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How to Unclog a Pressure Washer Nozzle: The Complete Guide

Is a blocked nozzle slowing down your pressure washing? We understand your predicament. Our detailed guide is here to help you unclog it with ease. You’ll be back to your cleaning tasks in no time.

To unclog a pressure washer nozzle, disconnect the spray wand, unscrew the hose, and use a wire to poke the nozzle holes. Flush water back and forth to remove debris. For stubborn clogs, soak in hot water, then reinstall the nozzle. Check for wear, damage, and improper assembly. Replace the nozzle if needed.

Want to know the secret to resuming your pressure washing tasks swiftly? Our guide holds the answer. Delve deeper to learn the easy steps to unclog your nozzle. Don’t stop here; there’s more to explore!


Pressure washer nozzle cleaning tools

Of course, the first step towards cleaning nozzles in your pressure washer is having the right tools for the job. Thus, a question everyone should always ask at the onset is, do you have the right cleaning tools? If not, where do you get the best tools for unclogging nozzles?

Sometimes, a power washer does not come with a cleaning tool kit, especially for unclogging the nozzles. If that is the case, you have no option but to buy it separately.

The most common tool for unclogging nozzles is a cleaner wire. It is as simple as it sounds- a straight wire that can go through the nozzle openings.

You can also use a paper clip (unfolded) to rid the nozzle of debris. As you are about to discover, cleaning power washer nozzles is the most straightforward task you can ever perform on your power washer. It requires little effort; the money you will need to buy a cleaner wire is way less than the accessory’s price.

You can find a Pressure Washer Nozzle Cleaning Tool here.

• Related Questions About Nozzle Cleaning

In the meantime, a few questions often come to mind, especially if it is your first time unclogging nozzles. You may want to ask the following:

  • How do you troubleshoot clogged nozzles in power washers?
  • How does a clogged nozzle affect the performance of your pressure washer?

Let’s explore answers to these questions separately to help you understand the process of unclogging nozzles.

Troubleshooting clogged nozzles in a pressure washer

With clogged nozzles, the main concern is whether your power washer will blast water at high pressure or gradually reduce its optimal performance pressure. The truth is that clogged nozzles often hinder a cleaning routine, hence the need to fix them immediately.

The following troubleshooting tips should, therefore, help you get started with the cleaning progress:

  • Procedure start: Disconnect the spray wand. Unscrew the pressure hose.
  • Check: Check the nozzles for clogging using a wire. A solid wire like a paper clip would be best for the best results. If there’s everything stuck, it’s time to relieve the pressure.
  • Flush water: Flush water into the nozzle head but in the opposite direction.  It is the best way to remove debris, especially if any is in the nozzle head. This is a trick to relieve pressure.
  • Debris flowing out: If you see debris/particles flowing out, it is a sign that clogging may have been the reason for the low pressure in your power washer. Debris in nozzles also reduces impact pressure on the surface you are cleaning, reducing your machine’s optimal performance. With the debris removed, you can reinstall the spray wand and test the machine again for clogging.
  • Repeat: If the process hasn’t cleared the nozzle of plugging, repeat the above steps. Alternatively, if the process is tiresome (we presume not), you can replace the clogged nozzle with a new one. Check out leading eCommerce stores for nozzle prices, making sure to put money on the best one for your machine. Later in this post, we will briefly explore factors to consider when buying a new pressure washer nozzle.

In my 20 years of experience, I’ve found that the most common culprits of a clogged pressure washer nozzle are dirt, debris, or dried detergent. It’s a simple issue but can cause significant problems if not addressed promptly.

How to relieve pressure from a clogged nozzle that affects your pressure washer performance

We can also ask the above question differently: what is the importance of unclogging power washer nozzles? First, if you are a homeowner, always look to maintain a high level of hygiene in your homestead.

Having a power washer that delivers optimal performance when cleaning driveways, cars, and walls is necessary. Also, note that nozzles come in a variety, especially regarding their shapes and designs; you should always make the right purchase decision right from the start.

Pressure washers with bigger nozzle holes may be preferred, especially if you want something that delivers low to medium cleaning pressure. Bigger holes on nozzles do not clog easily, but that should not be a significant concern. However, with continued use, they, too, get clogged.

Nozzles with smaller holes deliver high pressure, often loved for their top performance when cleaning concrete surfaces or blasting stubborn stains on the kitchen counter. But compared to variants with big holes, they tend to clog faster.

Now, to understand how clogged nozzles affect the performance of pressure washers, think about blocking your nose with a piece of cloth, then try to breathe out.

Alternatively, imagine blowing air through a straw with the other end covered using a wet cloth. How does the clogging of nozzles in pressure washers affect their optimal performance?

• The Importance of Cleaning Clogged Nozzles

When clogging is the reason behind reduced pressure, you will notice that the motor is working extra hard. It would also be necessary to pump water using more strength and power. Clogged nozzles will reduce the pressure at which your washer blasts water and affect its optimal performance.

Therefore, cleaning clogged nozzles in power washers is essential to maintain optimal performance, especially flow rate, impact pressure, and efficiency. When the motor does not struggle and the pump works easily, your power washer becomes the handiest cleaning equipment.

According to experts in this niche, clogging is one of the most common pressure washer problems. Even worse, it can grind everything you want to do with your washer to a halt. Knowing how to troubleshoot these machines will help you fix mechanical hitches before they get out of hand.

In my experience, checking the nozzle each time before use is a good practice. The frequency of regular cleaning depends on how often and in what conditions the washer is used.

Remember, working with a power washer can be dangerous if improperly handled. Always follow safety guidelines, especially when dealing with high-pressure washers that can go up to 2700psi. Always unscrew the hose and relieve pressure before starting any maintenance work.

What is the best way to clean clogged nozzles?

Bearing that the nozzle in power washers can have big or small holes, the cleaning method may also vary slightly. Tools for cleaning these gadgets remain the same, albeit, for big-holed nozzles, you will need a thicker wire/paper grip to realize a better grip of trapped debris.

The process of unclogging nozzles is, however, simple. The following tips should, therefore, help you do it rigorously and faster:

  • Remove the nozzle: We advise that you remove the nozzle for the best cleaning experience. The catch is that cleaning pressure washer nozzles, while still attached to the central unit, would worsen the clogging problem.
  • Poke the holes: Using a straightened paper clip or wire, poke the holes in the nozzle in a back-and-forth motion. When doing this, hold it by the sides with the front end facing you.
  • Rinse the nozzle: Use clean water to rinse the nozzle thoroughly. We emphasize flashing water back and forth to realize the maximum debris removal. 
  • Re-install the nozzle and get back to work.

You can find a Pressure Washer Nozzle Cleaning Tool here.

• Dealing with Stubborn Stains and Debris

Based on our experience with pressure washers, reverse-cleaning nozzles is the best way to unclog them. For stubborn stains/dirt/debris/particles, we recommend soaking it in hot water for a few minutes. Or, you can wash them overnight and unclog them the following day.

In the worst-case scenarios, you may be forced to replace clogged nozzles with new ones, mainly if it results in damage beyond repair.  Nozzles are some of the cheapest pressure washer accessories. They also come in variants to suit your needs.

Still, on cleaning nozzles, most people ask how to unclog adjustable variants. Well, while unclogging should not be a complicated process, we would say that nozzles with removal orifices require extra care when it comes to cleaning.

• The Consequences of Extensive Damage to Your Machine

With a good needle slender and long (you can buy one from a shop selling tailoring supplies)-digging and poking the holes of adjustable nozzle heads should be easy. It would be best to force out dirt blocking the water pathway with little effort.

The catch with unclogging these gadgets is that you must dig and push out dirt while applying a little force for the best results.

At this point, you may also ask: Where did the dirt come from? Did you run dirty water through your pressure washer? Does it have a filter?

The correct answers to these questions should help you plan, especially to avoid damaging your power washer nozzle in the future. Large debris, such as small stones, can damage vital parts of your machine.

Take, for example, the poppet valve. It is not easy to clean this part; hence, you should install a water filter to prevent dirt from entering the unit. Extensive damage to these machines can shorten their lifespan, which often happens when you least expect it.

The inconvenience that comes with it is a topic we will reserve for another day. Even worse, you will spend more than necessary for repairs and maintenance.

How do you remove a pressure washer nozzle?

If you have little experience with your pressure washer, you might wonder how to remove the pressure washer nozzle from your machine. Most pressure washer nozzles are designed to be replaceable. Only a few cheaper pressure washers have a fixed nozzle that can not be replaced.

Use the following steps to remove and replace a pressure washer nozzle:

● Step 1: Locate the nozzle

The first step is to locate the pressure washer nozzle. This is easy, as the nozzle is located at the end of the trigger gun, where the water comes out. It is relatively small; most are not longer than an inch. Some nozzles have a long black plastic cap; others have only a tiny plastic top.

If your pressure washer has a quick-release system, this will be located directly beneath the nozzle.

● Step 2: Remove the pressure washer nozzle

There are several ways the nozzle is connected with the pressure washer gun. Depending on the method, a different method to remove it is needed.

– How to remove the pressure washer nozzle quick-release

If your pressure washer model has a quick-connect nozzle, you can pull down the collar and release the nozzle. If the nozzle is clogged, you can expect some water to escape when pulling the collar down.

There are also quick-release systems where you must turn the quick-release collar to remove the nozzle. Turn the wand to the side and see a brass collar you can pull down. This should release the nozzle.

– How to remove the pressure washer nozzle with no quick-release

If your pressure washer model has no quick-release nozzle, it will use a fastener to keep the nozzle in place. To remove the nozzle, you will have to use an Allen wrench.

Insert the Allen wrench into the holes on the trigger gun. This should unlock the nozzle, and you can remove it.

Remark: there are pressure washer models that have a fixed nozzle that can not be replaced. If you are unsure, check the manual.

Nozzles degree color coding and what it means.

By now, we presume you already know how to clean a clogged nozzle on your pressure washer. However, if your washer‘s nozzle permanently gets blocked, it could be that you spent money on a substandard product.

This is why we must quickly walk you through different nozzle color codes to help you make the right purchase decision. They include:

  • Black soap nozzles that have large orifices hence blast water at low pressure.
  • White 40-degree nozzles are ideal for light washing because they blast water at gentle pressure.
  • 25-degree nozzles, usually green, are ideal for general cleaning duties. Some people call them multi-purpose power washer nozzles, given their wide-spraying capabilities. You can use them to remove leaves on concrete surfaces, driveways, boats, cars, patio furniture, and decks.
  • 15-degree nozzles, usually yellow and narrow, are ideal for dirt and paint removal. Compared to the above variants, they blast water at high pressure, making cleaning even the most stubborn stains possible.
  • Red 0-degree nozzles are another type known to blast water as powerful jets. If you want something to help you clean stubborn stains such as tar, gum, oil, mildew, and glue, go for the red 0-degree nozzles.

You can find Pressure Washer Nozzles here.

Does the type of a nozzle impact the ease of cleaning it?

Yes, the type of nozzle you buy directly impacts the ease of cleaning it. Most importantly, it determines the cleaning tool you will use when clogging happens. Nozzles with bigger holes are easier to clean than those with small holes.

When shopping for a pressure washer nozzle, pick the best one for the money and something you will not have trouble unclogging. In cases where high pressure is necessary, you don’t have an option because nozzles with smaller holes are the best.

The aforesaid brings us to the question of what factors homesteaders should consider when buying nozzles for power washers. Well, we researched the above question, and the following are essential factors everyone should consider:

Types of power washer nozzles

We have briefly explored the type of pressure washer nozzles, but let’s expand on it further. When you go shopping for the best nozzles for your power washer, you can choose from the following variants depending on your needs:

● Quick disconnect nozzle

The first type is the quick disconnect nozzle. As the name suggests, one can vary the angle of this nozzle to suit different purposes. Thus, with quick disconnect nozzles, you can use the machine for cleaning, painting, or turning it into a cutting gadget.

Often, the degrees to which you can adjust these nozzles vary from 0 to 80.

  • At 15 15-degree nozzle angle, you can use your power washer to strip paint off surfaces such as wood and metal.
  • At 25 degrees, a disconnect nozzle becomes a helpful tool for cleaning swimming pools.
  • Further, varying the angle to 40 degrees makes your machine effective in cleaning cars, windows, and roofs.
  • Disconnect nozzles that blast water at high pressure sitting at zero degrees. But the catch is that with these variants, your tool becomes very versatile, making it possible to clean stains on different types of surfaces.

You can find Pressure Washer Nozzles here.

● Specialized/accessory nozzles

The second is the specialized or accessory nozzle, often sold separately.  The catch with this type of nozzle is that it comes with an extension wand, rotating brushes, scrub brush, flat surface cleaners, foam blasters, gutter cleaners, and other vital accessories.

● Rotary/Turbo nozzles

While these nozzles are bought with the central unit, you can also purchase them separately, especially when looking for a replacement accessory. They spin at a speed of between 5000-9000, hence very powerful and influential on paint and grime. They are mostly 0 to 15-degree pressure nozzles.

● Variable/Adjustable Nozzles

Adjustable or variable nozzles are often purchased together with the central pressure washer unit. It is a one-piece accessory attached to a cleaning wand. Anyone who uses this power washer nozzle will tell you that it is multipurpose, combining the functions of five different nozzles in one.

You can adjust the nozzle angle to a degree that most suits your cleaning needs.

● NPT threaded MEG nozzles

This type of pressure washer nozzle is threaded at the tip. The threads look like patterns and are designed explicitly for MEG tips and double lances. The threading ranges between 1/8 to ¼ inches.

Threaded MEG nozzles are mainly used to clean surfaces and use sandblast power washer heads. You can also find them in spinning dust cleaners.

● Black Tipped Nozzles

Another type of pressure washer nozzle is the black-tipped variant, also known as the black soap nozzle. As the name suggests, it comprises a black tip and is mainly used to spray chemicals. However, given their large orifices, they are low-pressure nozzles. 

You can find Pressure Washer Nozzles here.

Other common nozzle problems you should know

As a homesteader looking to put money into the best nozzles, dealing with clogging is not an end. You should not ignore other common problems that can hinder the performance of these vital pressure washer fittings.

And when that happens, maintenance or repair costs would go high, leaving a dent in your pocket.

From our end of the bargain, we would say that the earlier you learn about common nozzle problems, the easier it is to fix them. You will be better prepared to handle the situation earlier before it gets complex.

If you use a power washer for commercial cleaning services, you know how nozzle clogging and other problems can grind your operations to a halt. So, here is everything you need to know about other nozzles problems:

● Corrosion

Corrosion is particularly a big concern when using pressure washer nozzles. Sometimes, the cleaning detergent/soap flowing through the washing unit can be the beginning of the end for once an effective nozzle. Corrosion significantly degrades nozzles and can worsen if you don’t take immediate action.

● High temperature

While some pressure washers are designed to use hot water, you should be wary of how high temperature affects the nozzle. Heat damage is likely to occur, especially if the nozzle material is not resistant to hot temperatures.

The question is, should you go for a plastic or a metallic nozzle? It depends on whether you have a hot water pressure washer or a cold water variant. It would be best to always make the right decision before starting a cleaning routine.

● Damage due to accidental falls

Accidental damage to pressure washer nozzles can happen at any time. It can occur during installation or when you accidentally drop the nozzle during a clean routine. When it happens, you should expect a reduced performance, in which case, you may be forced to buy a replacement spare.

 ● Bearding/caking

Caking or bearding is a common problem with nozzles. It happens due to the build-up of materials, either on the inside or outside of the orifice. The leading cause of caking is the evaporation of hot liquid. Caking is a major cause of clogging in nozzles.

It obstructs the optimal water flow, hence the need to understand how it happens before performing the right corrective measures.

● Wrong nozzle assembling

When you wrongly assemble a pressure washer, you should expect mechanical glitches like water flowing in the wrong direction. Improperly made washers would negatively affect the o-rings because they would not be as effective as they should be. This is also true for nozzles.

When you over-tighten them, it could be the beginning of an even bigger problem. From damaging the threads to cracking the head, anything can go wrong due to improper assembling.

● Clogging

This post is about unclogging pressure washer nozzles. However, it shouldn’t escape your radar that clogging is a significant problem with these gadgets. Having explored steps to fixing this problem, we will also shortly look at the causes of clogging in power washer nozzles.  

● Wear and tear (erosion)

If you think only clogging affects the performance of pressure washer nozzles, you should think again. Wear and tear involve almost every component of a machine. You may have bought the best nozzles for the money a few months ago, but that does not mean you should forget about wear and tear.

Nozzles corrode after the orifice especially comes into contact with water for several months. The reality of low pressure comes with erosion because the orifice gradually becomes smaller.  If you suspect nozzle wear and tear as the cause of low pressure, the following troubleshooting steps should help you fix it:

  • A drop in spray pressure should signal wear and tear on the nozzle orifice.  The flow of water, however, increases, albeit the more significant drop is noticeable.
  • Change in spray pattern: Another sign to look out for when diagnosing the wear and tear of the nozzle is a change in the spray pattern. If the quality has reduced, chances are high that erosion has occurred on the orifice.
  • A change in water flow rate indicates that the nozzle has suffered severe erosion. As the erosion of the orifice continues, the flow rate increases. You should also notice a decrease in water pressure, given that erosion widens the orifice. If you had purchased a narrow nozzle for high-impact pressure, erosion would mean that wouldn’t be the case anymore. Your only option at this point is to buy a new one.
  • Worn-out nozzles spray water at low pressure. Something that should be even more telling is reduced spray impact. It is usually evident when a pressure washer you have used to clean tough stains no longer delivers excellent performance.

You can find new Pressure Washer Nozzles here.

The process to unclog a pressure washer nozzle is straightforward. Always remember to turn off and disconnect the pressure washer first, then remove the nozzle and inspect it for debris. If you find any, use a needle or cleaning tool to remove it

What causes clogging in pressure washer nozzles?

Here is another question every commercial cleaning service provider or homesteader using pressure washers should ask. What is the cause of clogging in power washer nozzles? Well, depending on the type of washer, the answer to the above question often varies from one person to another.  

After researching this subject, we noted several causes of nozzle clogging/jamming. They include:

  • Debris: Build-up on debris is a leading cause of clogging in power washer nozzles. While a pressure washer may have a water filter, tinier particles often go through. Over time, a build-up of dirt becomes a significant problem affecting the performance of your machine.
  • Wear and tear of your machine’s internal components also cause nozzle clogging in power washers.
  • Caking, also known as bearing, is another cause of nozzle clogging. When worn-out materials build up on both sides of the orifice, clogging is likely the next cause of worry.
  • Dirty water flowing through a pressure washing unit is another reason to worry about clogged nozzles.
  • Mixing cleaning water with the wrong detergent would result in erosion and corrosion of internal parts of your machine, resulting in clogged nozzles.

The best way to remove a nozzle from Karcher Pressure Washers

  1. The first step is to switch the pressure washer off by turning the power setting to 0.
  2. To remove the nozzle, turn the nozzle counterclockwise. That way, it detaches from the trigger handle.
  3. When the old nozzle is removed, you can add the new nozzle and turn it clockwise. This way, it will lock in place.
  4. When the new nozzle is added and feels secure, you can turn on the pressure washer and use it.


In the end, knowing how to unclog nozzles in pressure washers is necessary. You do not have to spend money hiring a repair and maintenance expert to do something you can perform in quick, easy steps.

With the tips explored in this post, we hope your experience with these gadgets will improve to the highest efficiency level.

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  1. Felix Mitchell says:

    This article has encouraged me to take better care of my pressure washer.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Your commitment to taking better care of your pressure washer is commendable, Felix! We’re glad our article could inspire you. Keep up the good work!

  2. Tracy Snyder says:

    I appreciate the step-by-step instructions provided in this article.

  3. Courtney Stone says:

    I never realized how important it is to clean the nozzles regularly.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Courtney! Regular nozzle cleaning is key to maintaining optimal pressure washer performance. Dive into our guide for easy tips to keep your cleaning tasks running smoothly. Happy cleaning!

  4. Catherine Mills says:

    I will definitely be trying these nozzle cleaning tips on my pressure washer.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Catherine! We hope the tips help you get your pressure washer running smoothly again. Happy cleaning!

  5. Melissa Howard says:

    Great guide, very detailed and easy to follow!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Melissa! We’re glad you found the guide detailed and easy to follow. Happy cleaning!

  6. Tonya Chavez says:

    Important advice for anyone experiencing pressure issues with their washer.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Tonya! We hope our guide helps you overcome your pressure washer nozzle issues quickly. Keep exploring for more tips and tricks on our blog.

  7. Alexis Cruz says:

    I’m glad I found this guide, it’s exactly what I needed for my pressure washer.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      I’m glad our guide was helpful for your pressure washer! Keep up the good work with your cleaning tasks. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

  8. Gilbert Mcdonalid says:

    I didn’t know cleaning the nozzle could make such a big difference.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Gilbert! We’re glad our guide helped you. Keep up the good work on your pressure washing tasks!

  9. Ivan Johnson says:

    Very helpful information for maintaining my pressure washer.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Glad to hear the information was helpful, Ivan! Keep up the good work maintaining your pressure washer. If you ever need more tips, feel free to check out our blog for more guidance. Happy cleaning!