While pressure washers themselves aren’t too complicated, understanding the nozzles and what the color coding for them means can be! In this article, I will explain the difference between different nozzles, why each nozzle is important, and even recommend a few nozzles for certain common jobs.
Pressure washer nozzles are typically sized by the angle of the water output. The smaller the angle, the more focused the pressure will be. The wider the angle, the less focused the pressure will be. Often the nozzles for pressure washers are color coded for ease of use.
How about some more specifics?
What Sizes Are Available?
While there is no shortage of nozzles available for purchase, pressure washers themselves often come with stock nozzles. Usually, this is about 5 nozzles that spray the water in a fanned spread of 0 Degrees, 15 Degrees, 25 Degrees, 40 Degrees, and 65 Degrees.
While the 0 Degree nozzle offers maximum pressure, it is possible to find nozzles that have a spread larger than 65 Degrees. However, it is important to note that at that point, a garden sprayer on a hose might have a similar effect. With more than a 65 Degree spread, there isn’t much pressure.
Often the larger angle nozzles are used simply to spray water over a larger area. In fact, this decrease in pressure of output is utilized when adding soap or detergent to the line for cleaning jobs that could benefit from a little chemical help.
How Does the Nozzle Color Coding System Work?
The typical nozzle colors that come with the pressure washer or that come in a nozzle pack are red, yellow, green, white, and black. While there are other colors and specialty nozzles, these 5 are what typically come as stock nozzles or come in basic replacement packs.
Luckily, this color code is pretty standard across brands making the process of replacing nozzles much easier. However, I recommend you always check the guide for any extra or replacement nozzles you purchase because some sets change the colors around.
If you don’t need a specific nozzle, but instead are looking for a replacement or backup set of nozzles, we recommend this set from Amazon. It has the 5 basic nozzles properly color coded, thousands of positive reviews, and comes with a special foam cannon attachment which I will go over in the next section.
To help you understand the color coded system, here is a reference guide with colors, associated fan degrees, and a basic usage suggestion. This section will only cover common nozzles. Feel free to skip to the next section if you are familiar with common nozzles to see the reference guide on specialty nozzles.
Red: 0 Degrees
Red nozzles are usually a 0 Degree spray. The opening is small, creating a straight jet of water rather than a fan. This nozzle is very powerful, and should be used for tough jobs.
Know that the spray covers very little area, and it can take a long time using this nozzle for large jobs. I would recommend using it mainly on metal or strong concrete because it could easily damage other surfaces.
From most distances the red nozzle can damage surfaces such as wood, plastic siding or fences, or any painted surface. I strongly suggest never using the red nozzle on cars or vehicles.
Yellow: 15 Degrees
Yellow nozzles spray at an angle of only 15 Degrees. While they don’t have the pressure that red nozzles do, even the small fan greatly increases the area covered.
Even though the pressure on a yellow nozzle is less than that of the red, it still packs a punch and can damage many surfaces at close range. Because of this power, the yellow nozzle excels at really stripping surfaces clean of many stains and dirt.
This nozzle is very well suited to tough cleaning jobs such as cleaning off an area to be painted, spraying cement or driveways clean, or cleaning off tools such as shovels.
Green: 25 Degrees
The green nozzle is a very good medium strength nozzle. It is very good for many kinds of jobs. With the right distance, it does a great job at cleaning off vehicles, siding on a house, spraying down vinyl fences, or even a quick driveway cleaning. This nozzle is much safer to use on wood at the right distance.
White: 40 Degrees
Because of its wider spray, the white nozzle has significantly less pressure than other nozzles. Since it is much more gentle, it is well tasked to cleaning windows or other gentle jobs such as rinsing off a soapy car.
Black: 65 Degrees
This nozzle often has a slightly wider opening than other nozzles. This is because while it does have a 65 degree fan, the black nozzle is designed to put out a larger volume so that detergents and soaps can be added to the stream.
What Are the Specialty Nozzles?
Sometimes pressure washers will come with a specialty nozzle or two, but often these nozzles are more commonly purchased separately or in nozzle packs.
Less Common Nozzles
Pink: Soaping Nozzle
Pink nozzles are significantly less common and the color for this nozzle often changes. However, it is typically used as a soaping nozzle. With a wide, high volume spray, it is good for covering surfaces with soap. I recommend a pressured spray down, then a soaping spray, and finally a rinse for a good clean on most surfaces.
Blue: Rinse Nozzle
Like with the pink nozzle, the blue nozzle isn’t near as common as our stock five nozzles and the color is also more variable. The blue nozzle is often used after the pink nozzle as it is the rinsing nozzle. It is usually a tighter stream, but with a better volume output and reduced pressure so that surfaces aren’t damaged.
Personally, I find pressure washing to be very satisfying. I love seeing old dirt caked into concrete blasted away! Foam cannons are by far one of the most satisfying and useful nozzle attachments in a pressure washer’s arsenal.
Foam cannons mix foaming soap with the pressurized water to blast out thick foam good for cleaning many surfaces such as vinyl fences or house siding. They are most commonly used to clean vehicles, however. We recommend a more pressured spray down followed by foam and then a rinse.
Based on our research, Tool Daily Store brand foam cannons offer great results for a cheaper cost than many other brands. The common nozzle kit we recommended earlier came with this foam cannon as well. Check out the foam cannon individually at Amazon here: (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KXR21M4?tag=manlyesc-20)
I won’t go into detail about it, but there is a large difference between online recommendations to use basic dish soap in a foam cannon and soap designed specifically to be used in a foam cannon. The Chemical Guys is a brand that gets raving reviews for their results. Try it out with your new foam cannon:
Turbo nozzles are specifically designed for cleaning surfaces. They offer a strong pressurized spray, with water spiraling and pulsing in a circle due to its design. The variance in pressure and angle due to the water rotation provides excellent cleaning results.
For a good turbo nozzle, we recommend this one on Amazon: (https://www.amazon.com/Tool-Daily-Connect-Universal-Pressure)
Adjustable nozzles can be pretty handy, especially for basic jobs at home. While they can’t match the niche efficiency of each nozzle, it is pretty handy to adjust the fan angle with a quick twist rather than having to stop the water and change nozzles altogether.
Here is an example of a good adjustable nozzle with good reviews on Amazon. (https://www.amazon.com/Tools-Pro-Pressure-Adjustable-Connect)
Nozzle Recommendations By Job
Recommended: White Nozzle (40 Degrees)
With fragile surfaces, a softer spray is highly recommended. The white nozzle offers a wide, strong spray that cleans windows quickly without high risk of damage.
Whether on a building or vehicle, don’t spray windows straight on, and never at point blank. Spray from a distance, getting closer as you feel comfortable doing so. In addition, always spray windows at an angle. Be it up, down, or from the side, spraying it at an angle lets the pressure be deflected off the glass rather than forcing the glass to absorb a the pressure directly.
The white nozzle spray could be followed up with a window cleaner or with a quick round of the soaping and then rinsing nozzles.
Recommended: Yellow Nozzle (15 Degrees) or Green Nozzle (25 Degrees)
Concrete and driveways are very textured, which lets lots of dirt settle into the the tiny dips and valleys. For a quicker spray down, a green nozzle offers a strong spread that can spray driveways down quickly.
For concrete or driveways that are really dirty or stained, however, the yellow nozzle provides the extra strength needed to really strip the surface clean of all dirt and stains. Spraying close to the cement can increase pressure for particularly difficult stains.
Be cautious spraying cracks in concrete or driveways too thoroughly as it can wear the damage away more, letting water underneath. Water seeping underneath can cause low spots underneath which causes more cracks. This is especially important in cold weather when water can freeze in cracks or under cement, raising and cracking it.
Recommended: Yellow Nozzle (15 Degrees), Green Nozzle (25 Degrees), and White Nozzle (40 Degrees)
I used to work putting in paver patios, and a pressure washer was constantly on site for us to use. We used it to clean pavers for use, rinse off finished jobs, wet grout so it could harden, and seal completed and washed jobs.
NEVER use much pressure in the grout between pavers. The grout is much softer than the pavers and direct pressure could damage it.
When we removed old paver patios, many of the pavers could be reused on other sites, but had to be cleaned of excess dirt and grout first. A yellow nozzle was very good at this. We also used the yellow nozzle to clean stains off of individual pavers.
When grout has been swept into all the gaps and crevices, a very light, wide mist should be used to thoroughly wet the whole surface to activate the grout. I recommend using a white nozzle and spraying it up, letting the water fall across a wide area.
Pavers that have been grouted need to be washed clean before they can be sealed. I liked to do this with a Green Nozzle. Take particular car to not spray the grout between pavers with too much pressure as it is prone to being broken down or sprayed out, especially without sealant. After it dries, a sealant can be sprayed on.
Plastic Siding and Vinyl Fences
Recommended: Green Nozzle (25 Degrees)
When you really want to clean off house siding or vinyl fences, I think that a green nozzle does the job quite well. It could easily be followed up with a good soaping and rinse as well.
As with any job, holding the nozzle too close to the surface you are spraying could damage it. Find a comfortable distance and test the force on a smaller, more discrete surface before continuing.
When washing siding on houses, don’t spray directly into cracks or up into the seams as it can cause water damage or rot behind the siding.
Wooden Fences, Patios, and Patio Furniture
Recommended: Green Nozzle (25 Degrees)
Wood is a very strong and durable material, but it yields quite readily when a strong nozzle is used. Red and yellow nozzles could quickly peel away paint and tear into the wood. (It can actually be kind of fun to try cutting small pieces of scrap wood using a red nozzle)
If you are really trying to clean the surface off to remove stains or prep the surface for paint, a green nozzle is the way to go. It can give you good pressure without damaging the paint job or wood stain assuming you are at a good distance.