Kärcher K5 Power Control Pressure Washer review: easy to use with great results

We put the Kärcher K5 Power Control pressure washer to the test to see just how versatile and effective it is for a family home

Kärcher K5 power control pressure washer being used on a chair
(Image credit: Kärcher)
Gardeningetc Verdict

A great little power washer which is easy to use, suits a wide range of cleaning tasks and gives brilliant, noticeable results on most surfaces

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Versatile – can be used to clean a multitude of surfaces

  • +

    Accompanying app to give you advice

  • +

    Powerful and effective, giving instant results

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    The hose and power cable are difficult to store after use

  • -

    Not the best finish when cleaning vehicles

  • -

    Instructions could be clearer

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The Kärcher K5 Power Control pressure washer is made to give you 'the perfect pressure' every time, whatever you are cleaning. Featuring a high-pressure hose, high-pressure gun, on-board storage, telescopic handle and integrated ‘plug ‘n’ clean’ detergent system, it also comes with a vario power spray lance and dirt blaster spray lance.

This is the second Kärcher pressure washer I have used, with the first being the most powerful (and largest) of all the Kärcher range – the K7. I was interested to see how this smaller model would cope with similar tasks, such as cleaning the patio and slabs, as well as cleaning my car.

Find out how it performed, then check out more options in our guide to the best pressure washer.

Kärcher K5 Power Control pressure washer specifications:

Kärcher K5 Power Control pressure washer review

(Image credit: Kärcher)
  • Power type: 230–240V mains
  • Max pressure: 145 bar
  • Best for: Getting the job done quickly, with the perfect pressure every time
  • Hose length: 10m
  • Power cord length: 5m
  • Weight: 12.95kg

First impressions

When I opened the box, I was a little disappointed to see that I had to assemble some parts of the pressure washer, such as the handle, wheels and on-board storage. I was however surprised at how light the pressure washer is and felt I would have no problems moving it around.

What's in the box?:

  • Kärcher K5 pressure washer
  • High pressure gun
  • Vario spray lance
  • 10m high pressure hose

Getting started

The K5 Power Control comes with three booklets (product registration information, a how-to guide and the instruction manual) and a piece of cardboard with a QR code to instantly register your product. The first step is assembling the machine. There are written instructions to match illustrations found on the first few pages. You have to fit and secure the wheels, mount the stand, install the lance storage and mount the transport handle, all using the screws provided. This was all fairly simple – each step has the relevant screw highlighted, on the illustration. You then mount the accessory net, push the hose through the hose guide and screw on the water connection coupling.

After I had completed the assembly, which took me about 20 minutes, I registered the K5 through the Kärcher Home&Garden app, which I already had from reviewing the Karcher K7 Smart Control. For context – the K7 has smart technology, and you can link your phone to the gun (a nice feature, but not entirely necessary). I wasn’t sure how handy the app would be for the K5 as it doesn’t have smart technology, but as soon as I registered the product, it ran through assembly instructions step by step. I must say, these are a lot clearer than the instruction manual.

While on the app, I also noted that I could use it for step-by-step instructions on how to clean different surfaces, as well as adding any extra accessories I had. It gives specific instructions, dependent on what Karcher model you’re using, so I just needed to select the Kärcher K5 Power Control model from the home screen and what I wanted to clean. 

Before you can use the pressure washer, there are a few final start up instructions in the paper manual and I found out the hard way, that it’s very important to follow these properly. You must place the device on a flat surface, then the next instruction is to unwind the high-pressure hose completely. I decided to fit the gun first before doing this, then attempted to uncoil the hose, which was almost like trying to straighten a coiled telephone line. After struggling for about five minutes and getting ever more frustrated, my partner (who had been watching me gleefully through the window), came out to help and suggested I took the gun off. 

At this point (to try and prove him wrong), I looked back at the instructions and saw that I needed to unwind the hose to eliminate the loops and twists, plus pull it all the way through the hose guide, before fitting it to the high-pressure gun. My partner noted that it was easier to pull a yellow lever at the same time as aligning the fitting to push in (the instructions mention the alignment, but not the lever).

Hose and gun connected (and feeling calmer), I then finished setup by plugging the 5m mains cable in and connected the garden hose to the water connection coupling. 

Using Kärcher K5 Power Control on patio

I tested the Kärcher K5 Power Control pressure washer on my block patio

(Image credit: Bethan Davis)

What is the Kärcher K5 Power Control pressure washer like to use?

The instruction manual doesn’t tell you how to clean each individual surface, but gives more information on how to use the pressure washer with the Vario Power Control spray lance, a washing brush and detergent. This is where the app comes in handy as you can select what Kärcher product you’re using, add any accessories you may have and then from the home screen, choose out of nine options for what you would like to clean. 

The app then guides you through exactly what to do, step-by-step. At this point, I would also recommend looking at the ‘How-to guide’. Each page shows simplified instruction illustrations for areas to clean (which are not as helpful as the app), but there is a QR code to scan on each page which takes you to a relevant web page on the Kärcher website, with an application video.

Stone floor areas

I had started to clean our garden patio a couple of weeks ago with the K7 model, but never finished it. Therefore, this was a perfect opportunity to use the Kärcher K5 Power Control and to go over a few slabs and bits I had I had missed. I connected the Vario Power Control spray lance – which is easy to do – and then set the pressure to medium, by turning the head of the lance. The more you turn it to the left, the harder the pressure and to the right, the softer the pressure. There is no ‘medium’ marked on the lance, so it’s a matter of turning it until you think you’re in the right place and then pressing the trigger on the gun. The meter on the gun handle then indicates with several yellow bars on a scale, what pressure you are achieving. This is a little clunky, compared to other Kärcher models that come with a multi jet lance, where you adjust the pressure by pressing plus or minus symbols on the gun handle, but comparative to other branded models of a similar price.

With medium pressure set, I followed step two: rinsing the loose dirt from the patio. You then turn adjust the lance to the hardest pressure by twisting the head as far as it will go to the left. The app tells you to slowly guide the flat jet (which comes out of the vario lance) from left to right at angle of 15 to 30 degrees, at around 12cm from the surface. This works very well and it’s very aesthetically pleasing to see your dirty brown slabs return to the lovely colour they once were! 

Kärcher K5 Power Control cleaning of stonework

(Image credit: Bethan Davis)

I skipped ahead to see what the final steps were and step five mentions using the dirt blaster spray lance for heavy soiling. I attached this lance, which has a rotary jet, and is extremely powerful. You can work at a distance of 15cm to 20cm with this lance and the stubborn dirt ingraining my patio was no match for the dirt blaster. 

Top tips for cleaning a pation with the Kärcher K5 Power Control:

  • Work from left to right (or vice versa) to move the water towards any drains or run-off points
  • Rinse loosened dirt with medium pressure so it doesn't dry on the patio
  • Sweep any coarse soiling by hand
  • Do large patios or driveways in sections, repeating the steps for each section before moving to the next, so displaced mud doesn't get chance to dry
  • A broom is more effective than the pressure washer for getting rid of dirty water

Patio complete, I was really impressed with how easy it was, how quick it was (30 minutes) and how clean it looked. As this section of patio is right next to the section I had done with the K7, it was easy to compare results and you couldn’t tell the difference. This is impressive as with the K7, I used stone detergent and Karcher’s T-Racer surface cleaner, which has a hovercraft-like head, especially for patio and driveways. 

Cleaning glass

Following washing the patio, the pressure washer had kicked up a lot of dirt which had come to rest on the surrounding doors and windows. Following the instructions on the app for glass cleaning, I used the vario lance to rinse the doors and windows. I used a medium pressure, just to rinse the dirt off, but the app explains that you can use the hardest pressure, to get the best clean. These instructions can also be used to clean conservatories and greenhouses.

soiled car before pressure washing with Kärcher K5 Power Control

My car before being washed

(Image credit: Bethan Davis)

Cleaning the car

I’m embarrassed to admit that my car hadn’t been cleaned for about a year. With being on maternity leave and working from home beforehand, I don’t use my car as much as I used to. Plus, it’s gun-metal grey, so doesn’t show up dirt as much as other colours. Still, with the Kärcher K5 Power Control in my hands, I no longer had any reasons to not clean it and we bought some of Kärcher’s ‘Bring back the wow’ car shampoo, especially for the job.

I opened the app and told it I was using detergent under the ‘your accessories’ section. I then opened the application advisor for cleaning the car and this is where I hit a snag. The advisor shows a car covered in foam on the start screen, but looking through the seven steps, at no stage did it tell me when or how to apply the detergent. I checked the ‘How-to guide’ which offered no help and scanned the QR code, which took me to some information about a power brush you can get for cleaning cars – great for future reference, but no use to me here. I resorted to looking on Kärcher’s YouTube page and found a video that helped. It didn’t use the same model or detergent, but at least it gave me an idea of at what point I should apply the detergent. 

As I had used the ‘plug ‘n’ clean’ system before with the K7, I knew that I had to remove both caps on the detergent bottle and slot it in upside down. The pressure washer then automatically pulls it through when it’s on the detergent setting. With this is place, I continued to use the app for instructions. 

  1. Remove leaves and debris
  2. Use the Vario Power Control lance on medium to remove coarse dirt working from bottom to top
  3. Cover the car with detergent (this will happen when the detergent setting is used and the detergent bottle in place
  4. Leave to work
  5. Agitate with a sponge or brush before rinsing on medium pressure

On the app, it again recommends washing from bottom to top, however, I found that by doing it this way round, any dirt from the top dripped over where I had already cleaned, sometimes leaving larger bits of debris settling further down. I then had to go round the car again to clear any noticeable bits.

The final step is allowing sufficient time for your car to dry and then enjoy your newly cleaned vehicle. Still wet, the body of my car looked clean, although I could see some stubborn dirt on the number plate and metal work, especially around the front grill. The app doesn’t mention anything about cleaning the wheels, but in the safety booklet for the Karcher K7 pressure washer, it explicitly tells you to not use the hardest pressure in case of damaging the tyres. The alloys on my car are coated with stubborn black dirt in places, so I had used the same medium pressure on them too, which had removed some dirt, but they were far from the gleaming alloys I had hoped for. 

dirt left on alloys of car cleaned with Kärcher K5 Power Control pressure washer

Some stubborn dirt was left on the alloys as this is often engrained by oil from the brakes

(Image credit: Bethan Davis)

It took me 45 minutes in total to wash my car (a mid-size SUV) and an hour or two later, I went back out to inspect my handy work, but was a little bit disappointed. The car was left looking cleaner, but it was very streaky in places and when I ran my finger over it, parts were still dirty. I wondered whether this was the result of me not cleaning it how it was intended, through lack of instructions, whether a year of dirt is just too much for one wash, or whether I simply hadn’t gone over it properly. I also wondered what other car shampoos there are, as the one on the picture on the app, is covered with a thick foam which didn't happen in my case.

With this is mind, I went back on the ‘add accessories’ part of the app and tried adding on a different car cleaning detergent. This time, the instructions jumped from seven steps to 11 and included four steps about detergent application. I had done everything correctly, apart from after applying detergent with the lance, it suggests applying detergent to a cloth, sponge or brush, to deep clean the vehicle. Now I know this, I’m hoping that the next time I clean my car, this will give me better results and fewer smears.

Cleaning other objects

In addition to the areas I’ve already mentioned, the app has step-by-step instructions for the Kärcher K5 Power Control to clean pipes, bicycles, wooden floor areas, stairs, motorcycles and facades. Following how simple and quick it was to clean the patio, I plan on using the K5 to clean the steps and areas of patio in between.

Kärcher K5 Power Control pressure washer being used on car

(Image credit: Kärcher)

Ease of use

As I have used a pressure washer before, I did find this model very simple to use and it’s great that you can adjust the pressure immediately, to suit whatever you may be cleaning, just by turning the head. This is brilliant for if you were doing large areas which require different amounts of pressure, due to loose stones nearby, or plants which you don’t want to damage. It was also easy to assemble, especially if you use the app to guide you. The dirt blaster lance is also great, although it did kick up a lot of dirt and I was absolutely filthy from top to toe once I had finished. The safety instructions advise wearing eye protection and I ended up doing so after a found the dirt was hitting my face. I’d also advise wearing old clothes too.

The app is a great guide, although it obviously needs a few updates, but anyone using a pressure washer for the first time, will be able to follow the instructions easily and get the desired results, especially on stonework. For those without the app, the instruction manual is enough for basic instructions, but you’d have to use the how-to guide or look up information, if you wanted to clean something specific and get the best results.

Storing the K5 Power Control

The one thing I found very frustrating was when it came to packing away the pressure washer. I’d already had issues with the hose and I again had similar issues trying to neatly tidy the hose away. I couldn’t for the life of me coil it up nicely – it kept getting kinks in it or twisting in a different way to how I wanted it. I ended up getting very frustrated and winding it around the body of the pressure washer, to keep it as tidy as I could, whilst being stored in our garage. 

I also had a similar issue with the mains cable. The elasticated storage net I had fitted, seemed like the perfect place to store the cable, once I’d wound it up, but I found it would not stretch enough to accommodate it and left most of it sticking out the top. When my partner got back, he attempted to tidy it away properly and although he did a better job than me, it still took him 10 minutes to unkink the hose and wind it up.

Kärcher K5 Power Control pressure washer cleaning decking

(Image credit: Kärcher)

Additional features of the Kärcher K5 Power Control

What’s great about this machine and other Kärcher models with the same feature, is that everything is sourced from the same machine. You don’t need to suck water from an open container (although you can do this if you need to with a special accessory), you can use the same lance for everything, only switching to the dirt blaster when needed and the ‘plug ‘n’ clean detergent system is great, controlling how much detergent you need, so you don’t have to do it manually.

The large wheels and telescopic handle make transporting the pressure washer a breeze and the on-board storage keeps the lances and gun nice and tidy. It’s a shame this pressure washer doesn’t have an integrated hose reel like some of Kärcher’s other models, as this would eliminate the issues with unravelling and tidying away the hose. 

Although this model doesn’t have smart control, the app ensures you are ready to clean any object or surface, plus there are FAQs to check any issues and a link to the online shop, to see where you can buy accessories or other Kärcher products.

How does the Kärcher K5 Power Control rate online?

The Kärcher K5 Power Control pressure washer is rated very highly, with most giving it four or five stars. Users comment on how easy it is to use, how much quicker it makes cleaning, and how effective it is, especially at cleaning patios and driveways. 

The main negative comments echo my thoughts with the storage for the mains cable and the issues with both the storage and kinks with the hose. Some users say they wished that they had spent a bit extra and purchased the premium K5 model just for this reason. 

This model is mid-range in terms of price for Kärcher pressure washers, but it does do a great job and it definitely saves time. Some of the cheaper Kärcher models are rated more highly, but other brands around a similar price are rated the same as the Kärcher K5 Power Control.

Kärcher K5 Power Control vs Kärcher K7 Premium Smart Control

The K7 is almost double the price of the K5 but does come with a 3-in-1 Multi Jet Lance, T 7 T-Racer Surface Cleaner, bottle of Stone and Façade cleaner, integrated hose reel and smart control (connection to your phone via Bluetooth). It comes almost fully assembled but is a lot bigger and heavier than the Kärcher K5 Power Control, at 17.8kg. 

In term of versatility, it can be used for exactly the same jobs as the K5. The multi jet lance is definitely superior to the vario, as you can change easily between a flat jet, rotating (dirt blaster) jet and detergent mix, by twisting the head. The T7 surface cleaner does make cleaning patios and stonework easy and quick, but I would argue that the K5 does just as good a job, even without using detergent. The T7 surface cleaner doesn’t kick up as much dirt as the dirt blaster lance (I only had dirt splattered up to my calves) and covers a larger area at once, but I don’t think this is a good enough reason to justify spending the extra money.

Connecting your phone to the pressure washer does have its benefits, such as you can click a button on your phone which transfers the relevant pressure to the gun automatically, dependent on what stage you are of cleaning. However, I was able to operate the K5 and clean objects just as effectively without it being connected to my phone.

I didn’t have any issues when it came to tidying away the K7 though. The hose winds nicely back on to the integrated hose reel, the mains cable fits in the accessory bag and the onboard storage leaves the lance and surface cleaner packed tidily away, ready to use next time.

Overall, if you don’t want to break the bank with a pressure washer and don’t mind a few storage issues, I would go for the K5, as it is just as effective as the K7, plus you can always purchase accessories such as a surface cleaner, to make it as timesaving as the K7. 

About this review and our reviewer

Bethan Davis is a PR officer and with two young kids, is always on the lookout for products that will keep her house and garden tidy, with minimal time and effort. She test the Kärcher K5 Power Control and Kärcher K7 Smart Control in close succession to compare the two models and see how they fare independently, too. 

She has a medium-large garden with stone patio and walls, a couple of family cars to clean and a block driveway – so finding places to test the pressure washers was easy.

Bethan Davis

Bethan works in PR for the tourism industry and lives with her fiancé, sons Danny and Finn, and Jasper and Leo the cats. She loves being in the garden, but prefers to spend her time relaxing there rather than gardening, so is always on the lookout for tools that will keep her space looking its best without take up loads of family time.