My Karcher K5 Full Control Pressure Washer Review – over 3 years of testing

Last updated on March 26th, 2024

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It’s been over 3 years since I purchased the Karcher K5 Full Control Pressure, so I thought it was time for another update to this guide as I’ve just finished reviewing it in my patio pressure washer review guide, where I talked about how impressed I was with the T5 surface cleaner mine came with.

The good news is that it’s still going strong, but as with everything, you start to notice little things that you may not have noticed before. I have also since purchased Halford’s snow foam gun (the only one they had at the time – Karcher does sell their own version). I use this with my Karcher K5, so I will also talk a little about this as I know a lot of you will invest in this as a car cleaning pressure washer.

The Karcher K5 I use to clean my car with a snow foam gun and driveway

Spoiler alert/warning – the snow foam Karcher sells that you use directly in the pressure washer is a waste of time, and the car cleaner detergent they sell is even worst (I’ve tried both). Get a snow foam gun and some decent snow foam; I use Yiannimize snow foam, and its great stuff. More in this further down!

Firstly, I think the Karcher K5 a great alternative to the petrol pressure washers I have owned when it comes to power. It’s not quite as powerful, but it’s much more powerful than any portable pressure washer I own, although not as portable. I’m not throwing the K5 in the boot to clean the bikes off at the park, but then thats not what it’s designed for. it is.

Electric pressure washers really are the best choice for general cleaning, and I think this K5 Full control pressure washer model is easily one of the best pressure washers I have tested and used frequently. It has the power needed for all cleaning jobs, from cleaning the garden furniture to removing stubborn stains, engrained dirt, even moss and algae, although I choose to use Patio Xtreme patio cleaner for this with great results this year (No pressure washer need!).

Why I prefer my K5 Full control over the larger k7 with more power

I’m getting a little off track, so back to the Karcher K5 Full Control Pressure Washer. Firstly, it’s one of Karcher’s most powerful pressure washers for domestic use, with the exception of the larger K7 pressure washer, which I think is worth mentioning. It just so happens that my brother-in-law actually owns the larger K7. We were recently comparing our pressure washers as we both like our big boy toys, and we did both agree that the K7 doesn’t offer much more for the extra price he paid when compared to my K5.

He gets an extra 35 bar of pressure, even the hose length is the same at 10 meters. Basically, by considering a K5, I think you’re on the right track, and this is after owning it personally for over three years now. The K7 is much more expensive, I think he paid an extra £150 more than me for basiclly an extra 35 bar for a heavier pressure washer thats take up more space.

Which K5 Pressure Washer Do You buy, and what’s the difference?

Karcher K5 Premium Smart Pressure Washer
Karcher K5 Premium Smart Pressure Washer

The three main K5 models include the standard full control model with its LED trigger lance with 3 spray options (fan, dirt blaster & soap, all-on-one lance by twisting the nozzle), plug n clean detergent system and on-board storage. Then you have a full control premium version which has the hose reel on the back instead of wrapping the hose manually for storage. Finally, the latest greatest model is the smart version which works with an APP. Personally, I don’t use the APP but I do have it installed. I can see how it might be useful for some people, but personally, I think it’s more of a gimmick. More on this further down!

So you know which model I have, it’s the all-singing, all-dancing, K5 Premium Smart Control version shown in photo above. Now you don’t need this premium version, it’s important to know that the different variations all have the same water-cooled motor, the same 10-meter hose, the same lance with LCD screen for adjustable power, and the same performance of 145 Bar max power.

It’s only the APP and built-in hose reel that are different. You also have different accessories you can buy as a package which will usually save you some money. Some include detergent and surface cleaner, some have a car cleaning kit, or you can buy it with the lance only. What you choose just depends on what you need.

To give you an idea of size, most people have either owned or seen the smallest Karcher K2 as it’s very popular due to its price plus, it is a great little pressure washer, but it has its limits. I also own it, it’s no K5!

Karcher also sells a compact version of the Karcher K5 model, it’s actually called ‘Karcher K5 compact’. It has the same water-cooled motor. Personally, this is not what I would recommend but it does serve a purpose so thought I would include a link to this in case anyone wants to take a look. It does have a smaller 8-meter hose, it uses a suction tube for the soap and it really is a back-to-basics model, it just has the extra power and reliability. It also has the Vario power spray to adjust the pressure from the lance using the + and – buttons on the LCD display.

If you want to see it in action – check out the video below!

Karcher K5 Premium Smart Full Control Pressure Washer Review

So first, you need to know the difference between K5 premium home pressure washer and the Karcher premium Smart Pressure washer?

First, I want to explain the difference between the standard Karcher K5 Full Control pressure washer and the Premium and the Smart versions as they all look identical.

Performance-wise, they’re the same, but the premium models have a build-in hose reel which is super handy as mentioned earlier.

Built-in hose reel on Karcher K5 Premium models
Built-in hose reel on Karcher K5 Premium models

Then the smart premium version also has a longer 10-meter hose instead of 8 meters and it can also be used with the APP. Personally, I don’t really use the APP but I can see why some people might.

Mobile APP you get with premium smart version
Mobile APP you get with premium smart version

The smart version also has a BOOST mode that gives you an extra 15 bar for a short burst of time for removing the toughest stains.

BOOST model which give you an extra 15 bar of pressure for a short period of time
BOOST model gives you an extra 15 bar of pressure for a short period of time

All the models with ‘home’ in the name also include the T5 surface cleaner which I’m using below and a bottle of plug-n-play detergent too. The surface cleaner is such a good addition, it does and excellent job but also means that there is no slashing of dirt onto the walls and furniture.

T5 Surface cleaner that came with my premium smart home pressure washer
Using it with the dirtblaster lance model to clean paving slab

I personally own the premium version with the smart APP control and absolutely love the build-in hose reel. The extra 2 meters hose length when compared to a K4 gives me a total of 10 meters. This makes life much easier especially when cleaning the car or larger areas, as does the built-in hose reel. I can’t stress how much better having a built-in hose reel has been.

This has been designed with pure convenience in mind. I highly recommend you go with the premium spec full control model if it’s within your budget but it’s not a deal breaker. At the end of the day, every version gives a great cleaning performance and more importantly, all have a water-cooled motor which means it’s much more reliable.


  • Designed with on-board storage for keeping the trigger gun, 2 lances and hose neatly stored together on the unit.
  • Has a convenient extendable pulling handle and wheels, which make it easy to manoeuvre within the job area, whether you’re washing the patio, car, deck, and more.
  • Comes with a powerful motor – 2100 watts – which features a patented cooling system for increased longevity.
  • Features LED display on power gun which allows you to ensure that you’ve selected the right power level for a particular application.
  • Comes with quite a substantial hose of 8m length, making it ideal for washing large areas.
  • Includes a T5 patio cleaner and a 1L bottle of 3-in-1 stone and facade cleaner.
  • Uses Karcher’s Plug and Clean Detergent system which makes for quick replacement of detergent with one simple movement.
  • 3 year warranty
The premium Karcher K5

The premium smart version also comes with

  • Build in hose reel to make winding and unwinding the hose easier.
  • An extra 2 meters of hose for a total of 10 meters.
  • One vario lance so you can switch between fan, dirtblaster and soap by turning the lance.
  • BOOST model – gives you an extra 15 bar of pressure on the standard k5 models.

Specifications and Features

  • Maximum pressure bar – 145 bar
  • Maximum flow rate – 500l/hr
  • Area cleaned in square metres per hour – 40
  • High pressure hose length – 8 standard -10 metres for premium smart version
  • Motor type – water cooled
  • Detergent application method – Plug and Clean system
  • Includes high impact wheels and adjustable aluminium handle
  • Premium models have built in hose reel.
  • Smart Premium has 10 meters hose and Bluetooth connection to APP
  • All home models include the T5 Surface cleaner
Karcher K5 Smart Control model
Karcher K5 Smart Control model

From the figures above (and my own real-life testing), I can confirm that the Karcher K5 Full Control Premium Pressure Washer is doesn’t half kick out some power. This pressure washer will handle the job of smaller pressure washers better and much faster, my little K2 doesn’t even come close in terms of performance. After all, you don’t want to spend a full hour washing the driveway when it can be done in half an hour and it literally saves this much time if not more.

I really recommend getting the T5 Surface Cleaner which makes cleaning large patios and driveways much more quickly than using the gun

Let’s just say it’s well worth having the T5 surface cleaner if you have a patio or large driveway to keep clean. I personally use it on an Indian stone patio and resin driveway.

TheT5 Surface cleaner has two powerful spinning jets and a brush rim top help remove dirt quickly
TheT5 Surface cleaner has two powerful spinning jets and a brush rim top help remove dirt quickly

I found that if you use it on full power to clean the patio and then use the standard fan lance setting on low to rinse the dirt and water away, it works great and comes up well while avoiding all the splashback.

Using the included T5 Surface cleaner to clean my patio and remove the dirt
Using the included T5 Surface cleaner to clean my patio and remove the dirt

Powerful water cooled 2100w motor

The major advantage of the K5 pressure washer over smaller models is that it integrates a water-cooled motor instead of an air-cooled motor. It delivers 2100 watts of power, this motor offers a superior benefit of longevity compared to air-cooled motor types which most other pressure washers including the smaller Karcher models come with.

LED display trigger to select the correct pressure setting

One feature on this pressure washer that I really like and actually use, is the LED display on the Vario power spray lance.

Simply use the + and - button on the gun to increase or decrease the power, no need to turn the end of the nozzle like most other models.
Simply use the + and – button on the gun to increase or decrease the power, no need to turn the end of the nozzle like most other models.

The LED display basically shows you the power output you’re using for the job and will always let you select the convenient programmed setting to suit the job at hand. This means for cleaning garden furniture I can quickly use a lower power setting while on more stubborn cleaning, I can use maximum power.

I really love the ‘BOOST’ mode

Boost mode gives you that extra 15 bar to remove stubborn stains
Boost mode gives you that extra 15 bar to remove stubborn stains

It also has a nice BOOST mode which I think only comes with the premium smart model which gives you an extra 15 bar of pressure you can use on stubborn stains. This is on top of the power the other models provide at full power. The only downside is that the extra boost model only lasts for around 15-20 seconds then it resets to just full power. You then have to wait a minute before using boost mode again. It’s handy and I assume you can only use it for shorter periods of time as it puts so much pressure on the motor.

Plug n Play detergent system

So another feature I like is the new plug-n-play system. Basically, you insert the detergent bottle upside down into the top of the pressure wash as shown below.

Inserting the detergent bottle into the top of the pressure washer using the Plug n Play system.
Inserting the detergent bottle into the top of the pressure washer using the Plug n Play system.

I like this design as it means I no longer knock the detergent bottle over when using the pressure washer, which was nearly every time with my older model that had a suction tube.

Now this means you have to buy at least a couple of Karcher’s own ‘plug n play’ detergent bottles. However, once you have used them, you can just reuse the bottles and fill them back up with your own choice of detergent.

This was important as I didn’t want to have to be tied down to Karcher cleaner products. I tried their snow foam and I purchased this separately from B&Q. The home models come with patio detergent included and this worked great. The snow foam though, an absolute waste of money, I don’t know how they can even call it snow foam.

I have since got myself the Halfords snow foam gun attachment, which attaches onto the end of the lance.

Yiannimize Ultra Snow Foam

I also got the Yiannimize ultra snow foam and what an incredible experience, this is what snow foam is supposed to look like and the cleaning performance was perfect.

Cover the Kia sportage with snow foam
Cover the Kia Sportage with snow foam

Now let’s talk about the lances

Dirtblaster lance
Dirtblaster lance
Fan lance
Fan lance

The Karcher k5 Premium models come with the Vario lance, so instead of having two separate lances for the fan and dirtblaster nozzles, you just have one lance, and you can twist the top of the lance to switch between the two lance types. You also have a third soap lance option for applying detergent.

Vario lance makes switching between fan, dirtblaster and soap quick and easy
Vario lance makes switching between fan, dirtblaster and soap quick and easy

This saves you from having to manually keep switching between three different lances which is much more convenient.

What about the APP

So I will say upfront, I do not use the APP.

So what is the the APP for you ask? you can choose what you’re going to clean, for example, a car or a driveway, and then it will select the correct pressure and transfer these settings to the gun. It will also tell you which lance type to choose and give you a step-by-step guide on how to best clean your car. Personally, I just choose the pressure I need, usually full power, unless im jetting off something a little more delicate like my wicker furniture.

However, one feature on the APP that was super useful. If you install the app first before assembling it, it gives you step-by-step instructions on how to assemble the pressure washer including which screws go where. Now, this is useful and could stop you from attaching the parts in the wrong order or using the wrong screws. I say this from experience!

I actually documented the APP setup in more detail in my best pressure washer for patio review if you need more details

Final Conclusion

The Karcher K5 Full Contorl and Premium Smart Pressure Washers are a heavy-duty machine that would make most outdoor cleaning jobs a breeze. It beats most other pressure washers in its class in several aspects, including power output, flow rate and bar pressure.

While the K5 Premium Smart model might be expensive for some, the benefits cannot be overlooked. These include faster completion of tasks, flexible operation and enhanced durability of its water-cooled motor. The built-in hose reel, longer hose, plug n play detergent system, LCD screen and Vario lance are all features that make it a much easier and pleasant machine to work with.

My Karcher K5 Premium Smart Model
My Karcher K5 Premium Smart Model

With that said, it’s hard to point out any faults of this pressure washer with the exception of the Karcher branded snow foam. Perhaps the price is the only drawback, and it’s obviously slightly bulkier, but it’s smaller than you might expect with the telescopic handle down.

I would highly recommend this model on the basis of quality, performance and how useful the extra features really are. Overall, 3 years in, and my K5 is still going strong. If there is one thing I might upgrade, it’s the hose to a rubber one, as the one fitted to all Karcher models, and most pressure washers, for that matter, can kink. Not a big issue, but I had to find something negative to comment on. Overall though, the Karcher K5 is a great pressure washer. If it’s between the K4, K5 or K7, I think the k5 is the better buy.

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Last update on 2024-04-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

1 Comment

  1. Well done, very informative and unbiased review. Helped me make an educated choice in which model was best suited to me.

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