Pressure washers are a great way to tackle most of your outdoor cleaning projects. If you’ve purchased or rented a pressure washer, you may have noticed that it came with several different colored nozzle or spray tips.
What are these colored nozzles for? Colored pressure washer nozzles are the adjustable pieces which change the pressure and angle of the water spray. Each nozzle sprays out at different angles and either increases or decreases the pressure, that’s why they are colored, so they can be distinguished from each other.
Understanding the differences between each nozzle head will make a huge difference when it comes to using your pressure washer and the different types of cleaning projects you may encounter.
What do the Different Colors Mean?
|Color of Nozzle||Angle of Spray||Purpose|
|Red Nozzle||0 Degrees||Toughest Stains|
|Yellow Nozzle||15 Degrees||Heavy Stripping|
|Green Nozzle||25 Degrees||Light Stripping|
|White Nozzle||40 Degrees||Gentle Projects|
|Black Nozzle||65 Degrees||Applying Soap|
|Brass Soap Nozzle||65 Degrees||Applying Soap with lower PSI|
|Sewer Nozzle||0 to 45 Degrees||Cleaning Sewer|
|Dust Cleaning Nozzle||360 degree||Cleaning Dust|
|Stainless Steel Nozzle||Various||Long Lasting|
|Steam Nozzle||Steam||Steaming Oil/Disinfect|
Each nozzle can work for a different job. There are several different nozzle heads which that can attach to your pressure washer. They each spray the pressurized water out at different angles which can distribute the water so it’s less pressurized or it can concentrate the stream to give it a higher pressure.
It’s important to use the proper nozzle so you don’t damage what you’re cleaning. The different colored nozzles that you’ll see with a pressure washer are:
- Red Nozzle
- Yellow Nozzle
- Green Nozzle
- White Nozzle
- Black Nozzle
The red nozzles provide a single concentrated jet stream with since the angle is 0-degrees. All the pressure is forced into a single blast. You would only want to use a red nozzle with the toughest stains.
Bricks, driveway, and other flat surface are great cleaning projects to use the red nozzles for. Since the red nozzle creates a jet stream with the greatest pressure, you should be incredibly careful when cleaning with these nozzles. The high PSI can cause damage to some of the hardest substances.
With a 15-degree angle, yellow nozzles are best used for heavy stripping. This nozzle works great for striping paint from any material. The small angle still causes a high pressure which needs to be used carefully with gentle surfaces.
Serves a good purpose for the same cleaning needs as the red nozzle if you want to have less chance of damage. Yellow nozzles work great for cleaning away stuck on mildew or mold.
A green nozzle is for general cleaning purposes and light stripping jobs. Using a 25-degree spray, green nozzles have a well-balanced area of spraying and pressure. A green nozzle will fill most of your pressure washing needs.
The white nozzles have a 40-degree angle spray which comes out much like shower setting. White nozzles work well for the gentlest of projects. Great for outdoor furniture and in large surface area that doesn’t require a lot of pressure to clean.
A white nozzle works great at cleaning out inground pools as they won’t cause any damage to the tiling or vinyl. If you plan to clean any windows, then this would be your nozzle of choice.
A black nozzle is for soaking surfaces and works great for applying soap. The 65-degree nozzle gives just enough pressure that you can apply cleaning agents and detergents in hard to reach places. After you’ve use the black nozzle to soak down a surface, you simply switch to the desired nozzle blast away the soap and dirt.
Other Available Nozzles
Along with the color-coded nozzles above, there are a few other nozzles heads that you may come across. The nozzles heads serve specific functions rather than just offer different spray angles.
These nozzles are:
- Brass Soap Nozzle
- Sewer Nozzle
- Dust Cleaning Nozzle
- Stainless Steel Spray Nozzle
- Steam Nozzles
A brass soap nozzle is much like a black nozzle except the offer an incredibly low amount of PSI. This makes your pressure washer usable for the most fragile cleaning tasks.
Sewer nozzles are compact so they can be used to clean the interior of a pipe. They can reach the highest of PSI that a pressure washer can manage and is used for cleaning sewers, pipes, and tubes.
The dust cleaning nozzle does just what its name declares. The design of these nozzle provides a 360-degree spray. A dust cleaning nozzle is great for ducts, vents, and restaurant hoods.
Stainless-steel spray nozzles come in all the same ranges as the colored nozzles. Though the stainless-steel nozzles tend to be more expensive, they will last longer and can be used with most chemicals.
A steam nozzle turns the pressure washer into a high-powered steamer. This is great for removing any oil, moisture, or disinfect surfaces.
Additional Attachments for Pressure Washers
Outside of the colored standard nozzles, there are multiple attachments for pressure washers. Most pressure washers are designed to fit with all attachments and nozzles, but there are a select few that might require buy model specific attachments.
These attachments allow you to use your pressure in more versatile ways for cleaning everything outdoors than you could imagine. Some of these attachments include:
- Surface Cleaners
- Turbo Nozzles
- Wands and Lances
- Water Filters
By far, one of the most popular attachments for a pressure washer is a surface cleaner. A surface washer distributes the washer spray out through an enclosed cylinder which can be ran along flat surfaces. Surface cleaners get more expensive for the high PSI models, but they make cleaning flat surfaces a breeze. Surface cleaners are a great aid when cleaning driveways, garages, or really any flat surface.
Instead of using a brush separately alongside your pressure washer, you can add a brush attachment which combines the two tools together. By adding a brush, you gain extra scrubbing power to help clean the resistant grimes and dirt that just doesn’t seem to budge. Several of the brushes are on a rotating head to ease the scrubbing process.
If you are in the rare situation of needing to get higher pressure out of your washer, then you can add a turbo tip which increases the max PSI. Turbo nozzles push the pressure to 3000, sometimes 4000 PSI and can blast the most difficult of cleaning projects. A turbo nozzle rotates to spin the stream and boost the PSI.
A pressure washer’s spray can reach a good distance, but if you encounter an area that you can’t reach, then you can attach a lance or a wand. Wands and lances are designed to extend the reach of your pressure washer. Many wands and lances are collapsible so you can adjust to the height you need and it is conveniently stored.
A foamer is a brilliant attachment which allows your cleaning agent to mix with the pressure washer to spray together. It allows you to evenly spread the cleaning agent, and the pressure starts to break up the dirt or build-up. After the surface is soaked, you simply switch to your desired nozzle and spray away the cleaner.
A broom combines a brush with a surface cleaner and sprays out of several nozzle heads to sweep and clean surfaces. This is great for routine cleaning a garage, shop, or driveway.
Contaminates in your water can be an issue, and if you believe that having dirty water might affect your pressure washing experience, then you can buy a water filter attachment. Drawing from a well is a good cause to use a water filter.
How to Remove a Nozzle
Pressure washer nozzles are easily screwed on and off the end of your sprayer. Most nozzles will fit with any pressure washer, but some models might have special designs which require using nozzles that are specific to that model.
When you’re changing the nozzle on your pressure washer, you should have your washer off, and the pressure set all the way to 0. This is to avoid any possible injury. Attachments fit in the same manner, but you need to be sure that there isn’t a nozzle still attached when putting it on.
Pressure Washer Projects
As mentioned above, there are several outdoor projects which a pressure washer can make look brand new. Keep in mind that some of these projects may need cleaning on a regular basis while others are in need of less frequency. A few of the projects that you can tackle with a pressure washer are:
- Remove Paint from Metal or Wood
- Exterior Siding
- Stained Brick
- Outdoor Furniture
- Cars and Boats
- Outdoor tools (Including lawn mowers)
A pressure washer is the perfect tool for removing paint. The pressurized water strips up the old paint without damaging what’s underneath it. If your moving paint from wood, use at a far distance, so you don’t shred the wood. For this project, you can use a green or yellow nozzle.
Keeping this in mind, if you plan to clean a vehicle with your pressure washer, use the lowest possible setting, so you don’t pull the paint from your vehicle.
Exterior siding takes the beating of the elements, and you may find that you want to spray the season dirt off. Scrubbing siding off with a brush can consume a lot of time, and regular garden hoses sometimes aren’t strong enough to fully clean off all the grime. A pressure washer is the perfect tool for cleaning off your siding as it has the power to clean any dirt and they can reach every spot of the siding.
Bricks and concrete are both extremely porous materials, and it can be difficult to get out any grime or stains. A pressure washer is great and pushing out all the stains in these materials. When using a pressure washer to remove stains be careful not to concentrate too much pressure in one area as you can break pieces off.
Much like your houses siding, outdoor furniture takes a lot of beating from the outdoors. Outdoor furniture can be easily cleaned while using a little pressure. Your outdoor furniture can come out looking new. After the winter is a good time to get the furniture cleaned off.
You can use an electric pressure washer to clean any of your vehicles. Using a pressure washer is much faster than cleaning your vehicle by hand and garden hose. Since pressure washers have the power to strip and remove paint, you’ll want to be cautious when cleaning your vehicle and use the lowest setting of pressure.
A pressure washer offers more than enough power to help you clean off any outdoor tools. Working outdoors will get any equipment messy, and a washer will clear them off just as fast. Lawnmowers can gather grease and clog up after several cuts, all that is needed to be down is take a pressure washer to its underside and spray it all away.
Carbon and grease build-up after every use of your grill. When it’s time to clean your grill, than you can defeat the issue of scraping anything by using your pressure washer to clean out the grill. Your grill will need to be cleaned out regularly when used often.
What You Shouldn’t do With a Pressure Washer
So much pressure coming from the washer can be harmful. The sprayer can cause damage to the skin or bring other harm. Don’t ever use a pressure washer on someone else or animals.
It’s advised with all pressure settings to never get any closer to the cleaning surface than 6 inches away. If you don’t use the washer properly you can break pieces off the surface you’re cleaning debris can break off into your or another’s direction.
Pressure washers don’t make good gardening tools. The pressure would be far too high to water any of your plants, and it wouldn’t be advised to try blasting any weeds from the ground unless they sneak out of the cracks in your driveway.
A few outdoor cleaning projects that you come across will need to be cleaned without the use of a pressure washer if it’s made of a fragile surface. Pressure washers can be used to clean windows, but if there are any cracks or the seals around the window are in poor condition, the washer can make the situation worse and potentially get water inside.
Negatives of Using a Pressure Washer
Pressure washers are versatile cleaning devices, but like most things, there are some downsides to using a pressure washer. Along with improper handling, these are some of the issues you may run into when working with a washer:
- High Water Consumption
- Loud Noise
- Debris and Dirt Spray off
The largest downside to a pressure washer is the high amount of water consumption. Pressure washers operate with excessive amounts of water to obtain the desired pressure. This can difficult for people that live in states which have laws for water restrictions.
Using so much water to clean things can lead it to pool underneath whatever it is you’re cleaning. If you need to keep something underneath your project safe from water, you can drape a tarp over to allow the excess water to runoff somewhere else.
Some pressure washers are incredibly noisy while they’re running. Gas pressure washers cause the most noise since they run constantly. Some washers can be as loud as 90 DB. You don’t have to worry so much with noise on an electric pressure washer as they are quieter in nature and only run when the trigger is held down.
As your cleaning with your pressure washer debris and dirt can be sprayed off into other directions. They can get other surfaces around your project dirty, or it can shoot debris back at you. This is where a tarp comes in handy because you can use it for the excess water or projecting other surfaces from spray off.
Knowing Your PSI
It’s important to understand the PSI or pounds per square inch because too much will bring damage to your cleaning, but not enough will make your cleaning projects more difficult. What does PSI mean? The pounds per square inch is the measurement of pressure or force.
A pressure washer’s PSI ranges from 1500 to 4000. Most of your cleaning projects will land between 1500 and 2500 PSI, but more industrial uses, more PSI might be required.
Using the Right Pressure Washer
It isn’t just nozzles that you’ll need to take into account when using a pressure washer. With two types of pressure washers, gas, and electric, you’ll find that each one operates in different manners.
An electric model has less power than a gas pressure washer, but still enough to serve most conventional needs. The electric motor doesn’t have to have the motor running constantly like a gas pressure washer; it only runs when the trigger is pulled.
Electric pressure washers generally don’t require as much maintenance as a gas washer. Usually, an electric pressure washer is significantly cheaper than purchasing a gas washer. These washers are great for around the house projects or cleaning task with more delicate materials.
Gas powered pressure washers were the original design of washers and have owned the pressure washer market for many years. A gas pressure washer uses a small motor much like the one found in your lawnmower, which is designed to run the water pump.
Ethanol free gasoline is best to use, but many people also run their machines with regular unleaded. Gas washer pressures require a lot of upkeep, but the parts are easily interchangeable.
Gas Pressure Washer Advantages
There are some advantages of working a gas-powered pressure washer. Among the facts that it can be used anywhere without a power source, they also offer the highest pressures. There are several good applications for a washer powered by gas, but you’ll need to keep in mind how often you’ll need to run and refill the washer.
Downsides to gas pressure washers
- Amount of Power
- Excessive Noise
- Purchase Cost
- Maintenance for a Pressure Washer
The amount of power is important to pay attention too. A gas-powered washer can produce two to three times as much Pressure than an electric washer. A gas washer’s pressure ranges between 2,000 and 4000 PSI. For many projects, such a high PSI isn’t necessary, but the different nozzles and attachments can help you control it.
When running, a gas pressure washer creates a lot of excessive noise. The more industrial washers can get so loud that you’ll need to use protective ear wear.
For the better running gas washers, it will tend to have a high price tag. The gas washers will almost always be more expensive than an electric washer and can range from $200 to more than $500+. The gas-powered motor obviously needs gasoline to work, so the cost of gas must also be factored in.
A gas-powered pressure washer requires upkeep from time to time since the motor wears down while being ran. Most, if not all, parts of a gas pressure washer can be disassembled and either repaired or easily replaced. Because of the ability to interchange parts, a gas pressure washers will have a greater longevity than electric.
Choosing a Gas Washer or an Electric Washer?
Each washer seems to suit a better demographic. If your planning on only using your washer from time to time to finish simple cleaning projects, you may want an electric, but if you’re planning on using your washer excessively or for industrial purposes, then a gas washer will be your choice. Many users prefer the easy convention of electric washers while others need the higher pressures offered with a gasoline powered washer.
Electric washers a perfect for lightweight duties, but far more cost effective and user friendly. A Gas pressure washer is more powerful, but tends to be more expensive at purchase and in operating.
How to Properly Use a Pressure Washer
Pressures washers clean many surfaces efficiently, but with the high PSI it’s important to properly handle a washer, so you don’t cause any damage to the surface you’re cleaning or cause any injury to you or any others. Operating these machines are simple, which makes it easy to forget how much force comes out of a pressure washer.
To properly operate a pressure washer, you should follow these steps:
- Prime Your Washer
- Check Your Nozzle
- Test the Pressure
- Start Cleaning
After you’ve got the pressure washer started, let it run for a while for a gas washer to prime before idling. Allowing it to run for a moment gets out any air in the motor and gives the motor a chance to get to a proper idle before engaging.
Pick out the proper nozzle for the job at hand. Its best to choose the proper nozzle the first time, a mistake with a pressure washer can be costly and ruin a surface rather than clean it. Before spraying, check that the nozzle is on correctly, so it doesn’t spray improperly.
To check the pressure of your washer, do a spray test before you start cleaning. A spray test is when you spray the washer into the open air. This gives you a final check to make sure everything is working properly and that you’ve chosen the right nozzle for the job.
Start spraying from a far distance and then move closer to the surface as you clean. You should start from 18 inches away then adjust accordingly, but don’t get any closer than 6 inches away, because you can cause irreparable damage to the surface.
When Using a Pressure Washer Always Consider Safety Measures
No matter which nozzle or attachment that your using for you pressure washer, you’ll want to take some safety measures. Always be sure to wear protective cleaning wear such as gloves or goggles.
If you’re working with an electric pressure washer, you’ll need to be careful not to get your source of electricity wet. This can cause damage to your washer or your electrical source while creating a risk of electrocution and becomes a fire hazard.
Tricks to Help While Pressure Washing
When using a pressure washer there are some tricks that will help in the cleaning process. If you use these tips it will help you cut back time and effort:
- Presoak your Surface
- Try to Use Hot Water
- Careful with Wood
Presoak the surface you intend to clean and let sit for a while to allow the cleaning agent to work. The cleaning agent will loosen and break up any dirt or grime. This will help you save on cleaning time and allow you to use fewer chemicals.
If you can get away with it, try to use hot or warm water when running your pressure washer rather than cold water. Hot water help dissolve mix with your cleaner better and this will help the cleaner work properly without breaking down. Warm water also help soften up dirt and grime versus cold water which can cause the substances to harden more.
If you plan to clean wood, then always be sure to start from 18 inches away while using a green nozzle. A green nozzle helps prevent cutting or tearing of the wood. Some woods are much softer than others.