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Pressure Washer Tips – How to Choose the Right Nozzle to Clean Like a Pro

Here’s everything you need to know to select the right pressure washer tips.

Being able to choose the right pressure washer spray tips is crucial to proper cleaning. That knowledge will also prevent you from causing damages to your surfaces, such as peeling off your car’s paint or breaking a window. 

With this guide, we want ‌to‌ ‌share‌ ‌our‌ ‌experience‌ ‌with pressure washer spray nozzles to help you build up your knowledge.

We hope that it will make you understand exactly how to select the right tip, depending on your pressure washer and the job you want to do. 

Follow all the guidelines and your pressure washer will thank you, as it will perform better and last longer‌.

The Different Types of Pressure Washer Tips

5 Colors for 5 Types of Spray Nozzle Tips

Most pressure washer tips are universally color-coded. The color of the nozzle identifies the angle of its orifice – the fan width – and thus the pressure and velocity it provides. The closer to 0° the angle of the spray tip is, the stronger your water jet. In other words, the wider the angle of the nozzle you mount on your pressure washer, the more gentle the cleaning work will be.

Here are the five types of color-coded pressure washer tips:

Red Tip: 0°

With a red spray tip, you’ll get the concentrated power of a jet of water over a very small spray area. The fan width is virtually zero with that one.

Yellow Tip: 15°

With their 15° fan width, yellow pressure washer tips cover more area than red tips but still produce a strong water jet.

Green Tip: 25°

Green nozzles are the most commonly used nozzles around the home. With their 25° fan width, they allow you to clean an area faster while producing a medium-power jet.

White Tip: 40°

White spray tips have a 40° fan width. This allows them to produce a very gentle spray over a wide area.

Black Tip: 65°

A black nozzle has a 65° fan width and an orifice that is made wider to produce minimum water power and a wide spray.

2 Special Pressure Washer Tips

You’ll also find two types of nozzle that are not color-coded:

Turbo/Rotary Nozzle

Turbo or rotary nozzles are very useful and preferred by some people. That’s because they combine the force of a 0° jet with the spray area of a 25° nozzle. They work by rotating the 0° water jet at very high speeds – 1800 to 3000 rpm -, thus making the water appear as a direct 25° spray.

Variable/Adjustable Nozzle

Variable/adjustable pressure washer tips are all-in-one nozzles that you can adjust to the fan width you need.

Which Type of Nozzle for Which Cleaning Job?

0° Red Tip

Red nozzles are rarely used because they cover very little area and provide pressure that’s too strong for common cleaning jobs. But, their strong and direct water jet can still be used for stripping:

  • Stains on sidewalks/driveway crevices, or hard concrete
  • High and hard-to-reach stains
  • Rust

15° Yellow Tip

Yellow nozzles are used for medium stripping. With them you can:

  • Clean concrete, brick, and hard porous surfaces
  • Remove difficult stains and oil
  • Remove paint or prepare surfaces for painting

25° Green Tip

Use green nozzles for cleaning:

  • Cars, boats, bikes
  • Wood, painted surfaces, fences, patios, driveways

40° White Tip

With their delicate spray, white nozzles are great for cleaning fragile surfaces like:

  • Blinds, windows

65° Black Tip

 Black pressure washer tips are soap nozzles. They are used with detergents.

Turbo Nozzle

Turbo nozzles are used for cleaning jobs similar to those red nozzles do, but for wider surfaces/stains.

The Nozzle Orifice Size is Important

A pressure washer is basically made of a gas engine or electric motor that drives a pump,  pistons, and check valves. And, right before the hose, there is an unloader – or unloading valve.

The function of the unloader is to bypass or recirculate water through the pump when it reaches pre-calibrated pressure. This creates a water cushion so that the pump doesn’t tear itself apart. It is a spring-loaded device that opens only one escaping route for the water – either to the hose or to the pump – and closes the other at the same time. The highest wear and tear on a pressure washer is in the unloader.

It is critical to get your spray tips matched to your pressure washer pump.
If you use a tip that’s either too big or too small for the pump, you won’t have the expected pressure and the unloader won’t be working at its engineered pressures. It’s also going to shorten the life of the unloader and can even damage the pump, pistons, or check valves.

Let’s use an example to illustrate this point.

  • Let’s say you’ve mounted the right green tip – designed for your pressure washer – on your pressure washer and you get a 2500 psi by-pass pressure and a 1500 psi operating pressure.
  • Now, you mount a green tip that is too small for your pressure washer. What will happen is that your by-pass pressure will still be 2500 psi but your operating pressure is going to be higher. Let’s say 2000 psi.
    So, the balance in the unloader is now upset. The unloader, which was designed to close at 1500 psi is now closing at 2000 psi. The pressure difference will thus have an impact on the life of the springs inside the unloader. In other words, it will wear out quicker.
  • Finally, using a green tip that’s too big, the by-pass pressure is still at 2500 psi, and the operating pressure is now at 1000 Psi. The operating pressure is too low.

Now, you probably understand why it’s so important to use the right size of pressure washer tips.

The color code is one thing, but different models of pressure washers may use different tips that are balanced and calibrated to the pump to make it perform properly. And that’s why you need to buy the tip that is calibrated to YOUR pressure washer.
To do so, check out the parts numbers of your pressure washer. You can also buy nozzles that match the operating pressures of your pressure washer.

How to Select the Right Nozzle?

Here are the basic rules to follow when you’re in doubt about what spray nozzle to use:

  1. Make sure you have nozzles that are calibrated to your pump.
  2. Start with the widest of the nozzles you were hesitating between. Or, always start with the 25 or 40° nozzle to eliminate any risk of damaging the surface.
  3. Test on a small area first.
  4. Keep your distance and move closer if needed.
  5. When you’re close to the surface but don’t have enough power, switch to a more aggressive nozzle.
  6. Start again from step 4.

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