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The Best Cordless Power Washers to Keep Your Vehicle Good and Shiny

·6 min read
Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab


"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below."

Power washers streamline the cleaning process, allowing you to easily rid your vehicle of any harsh contaminants before touching it with a wash mitt. However, one key barrier to entry for power washing is having access to a hose. Thankfully just about every cordless unit comes with one, making any body of water a garden-hose replacement.

Take a look below at quick info on the best cordless power washers from our testing, then scroll down for buying advice and in-depth reviews.


What To Consider

Unlike other automotive equipment, cordless power washers are easy to shop for. The key metrics are water output (measured in gallons per minute and pounds per square inch), noise level, and battery life. While many of these models come with batteries of different sizes, it’s important to know that whichever you choose can make it to the end of your car wash without going dead.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

➥ GPM vs. PSI

The age-old argument in the power-washing world is establishing whether gallons per minute or pounds per square inch is the superior measure of water output. The short answer is that both are equally important. GPM measures how much water is being distributed, while psi measures how fast it’s being delivered. Think of it this way: When you put your thumb over the nozzle of a garden hose, it’s still putting out the same amount of water as before, only at a higher pressure.

➥ Noise

For the sake of your eardrums and your relationship with your neighbors, don’t overlook how loud a washer is. Compared to the regular variety, cordless units are marginally quieter but also less powerful. Aside from the disparity between noise and performance, you can breathe easy knowing that all of these models put out less than a mild 85 decibels.

➥ Battery Life

Without the luxury of being able to plug your power washer into a wall socket, battery life becomes an issue. While more flow rate/pressure will lead to more cleaning power, it comes at the cost of run time. Another factor to take into account will be the size of the battery that each unit comes with—measured in amp-hours. Bigger batteries will extend run time but tend to be considerably heavier and more expensive. Our advice: Two smaller batteries that you can swap out will always be better than one big pack.

➥ Weight/ Weight Distribution

While conventional power washers tend to be bigger and therefore don’t have every component packed near the spray wand, cordless units don’t have that flexibility. In making sure your power washer will be easy to use, weight is an important metric to look for. Equally important is the distribution of that heft, lightening the load it takes to precisely position the stream of water.

How We Tested and Selected

Evaluating these power washers boiled down to three experiments to gauge noise, battery life, and ease of use.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

Employing a calibrated decibel meter, I fired up each unit into its most aggressive power mode, holding the instrument one foot away each time. After taking three noise readings, I averaged the results to get a single decibel measure for each power washer.

The battery-life test was much more elementary, setting each power washer to its highest mode, pulling the trigger, and waiting with a stopwatch in hand to see how long each unit could stay operational. However, things got complicated when taking the battery size into account—as each manufacturer provided me with a different size of battery.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

Lastly, ease of use. Let’s face it, you could have a whisper-quiet power washer that puts out superior cleaning power, but nobody will buy it if it’s a pain to hold or start up. So I used each model to give my car a thorough wash. Among the key factors here were the weight of each unit and where the weight is distributed. Aside from balance, I gauged setup, charging, and attachments.

The four washers you see below performed the best in that gauntlet. I also included a model that I haven’t tested yet but looked promising from my experience—if you’re willing to sacrifice some portability. You’ll find that at the end.

—BEST OVERALL—

DeWalt DCPW550B

Noise level: 85.2 dB | Flow rate: 0.9 GPM | Pressure: 550 psi | Weight: 7.7 lb | Runtime: 14 minutes 8 seconds (with 5.0-Ah battery)

The DCPW550 was the best handheld performer on the list. With class-leading water delivery at 0.9 GPM and 550 psi in its highest mode, it cleared away hefty dirt and grime without breaking a sweat. However, in the case of cordless power washers, performance often adds weight, and this DeWalt is no exception, tipping the scales at just under ten pounds. Fitting it with a 5-amp-hour battery (not included in the price), I had more than enough runtime to wash my car, plus a couple of bikes.

—BEST VALUE—

Worx WG644 Hydroshot

Noise level: 84.7 dB | Flow rate: 0.9 GPM | Pressure: 450 psi | Weight: 7 lb | Runtime: 14 minutes 31 seconds (with twin 2-Ah batteries)

Delivering the best performance for its reasonable price point, the Hydroshot clocked the longest runtime and boasted respectable cleaning power. While it was comfortably among the heaviest units in our test, all of its weight is packed near the handgrip, meaning it was easy to control regardless of whether we were using one hand or two. The Hydroshot is also the only cleaner with an indicator that tells you how much battery life is left, which was great to reference.

—QUIETEST—

Craftsman CMCPW350D1

Noise level: 78.4 dB | Flow rate: 0.5 GPM | Pressure: 350 psi | Weight: 5.7 lb | Runtime: 13 minutes 3 seconds (with 1.5-Ah battery)

While this Craftsman can’t match the cleaning power of the other units here, it’s easily the quietest. Thankfully, its relative lack of power never proved to be a massive issue while I was washing the car. The included foam cannon was also a great bonus, allowing me to spray down the vehicle with a dense layer of car soap before touching it with a wash mitt. The only downfall of the Craftsman was its weight distribution, which proved to be quite low-slung, making one-handed use quite difficult.

—MOST AFFORDABLE—

Black & Decker BCPW350C1

Noise level: 82.8 dB | Flow rate: 0.5 GPM | Pressure: 350 psi | Weight: 5.1 lb | Runtime: 8 minutes 12 seconds (with 1.5-Ah battery)

While the Black & Decker is the most affordable of the power washers we tested, it doesn’t feel cheap. It’s also the lightest, and the weight of the included 1.5-amp-hour battery sits right below the pistol grip, making for a supremely balanced package. It can’t match the runtime of its more expensive compatriots, but an additional 1.5-Ah battery and charger will only set you back another $50. Generic battery replacements can be found for less, but we recommend buying straight from B&D to ensure compatibility.

Another Great Option

—BIGGEST TANK—

Sun Joe PW1200

Noise level: N/A | Flow rate: 1 GPM | Pressure: 800 psi | Weight: N/A | Runtime: 20 minutes (claimed)

While I haven’t have the chance to evaluate the Sun Joe PW1200 in person yet, its build and specs caught my eye. It is the most expensive power washer on the list, but that (along with it's wheeled construction) is a sign of its considerable performance numbers. And since not all of its elements are packed in near the spray wand, weight and balance become relatively less important.

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