Understanding & Reading Tip Sizes for Soft-Washing & Pressure Washing in Canada

If you are like many others then chances are that you don't fully understand how tips work and how to read them properly. In this article, we will show you how to properly read tips, how to best utilize them, how to organize them and also how to avoid improper use of them which could ultimately lead to permanent engine or pump damage, or even ruining the surface that you are trying to make look better which can cost you BIG TIME!

Tip degrees and orifice sizes are important because each tip has a different purpose. It is also important to know how to read tips: Here's a breakdown of how they work.

The first 2 numbers indicate the "Degree of Spray" & the last 2 numbers indicate the "GPM" (Gallons Per Minute)


(2502 = 25 Degree)  (02 = 2GPM)

(0010 = 0 Degree)  (10 = 10GPM)

(40025 = 40 Degree)  (025 = 2.5GPM)

When you change the size of the nozzle you are changing the PSI and not the GPM. Think about it... If your pump puts out 8 GPM then thats all it knows to do. So, if you change the nozzle size that the fluid travels through to a smaller size orifice than the PSI will increase. If you make the hole bigger that the fluid travels through, than it will decrease the PSI. 

Heres an example we use to explain the theory:

If you hook up a garden hose to the water outlet on your house and screw on a adjustable spray nozzle that you buy from the local store, then put the setting onto “Jet” and  squeeze the trigger and spray it directly at your neighbours face then its safe to say it will most likely hurt them. Now, if you change the setting to “shower” and spray them, they may not be getting hurt anymore but they still might be upset because you got them soaking wet!

The garden hose didn’t change and neither did the cities supply of water. What changed was the nozzle size or orifice size. By using a bigger orifice nozzle it reduced the amount of pressure coming out the gun. The same theory is applied for soft washing. By using your pressure washer that is rated for 4 gallons per minute (GPM), wide open without adjusting your throttle and having a tip that is rated for 8GPM you will reduce the PSI by 50%. So, if you then use a 0040 or a 2540 (40 gallons per minute) tip you can get your PSI down to the 100s of PSI.

Don’t throttle down you machine, instead adjust your tip size to reduce PSI and keep your GPM as high as your pump is able to do.

Remember the first 2 digits represent the degree in which the spray pattern will be and the last 2 digits indicate the GPM it is rated for. It is okay to lower your PSI by using a larger GPM nozzle that what your machine is used for but using a nozzle that is rated for less GPM will cause back pressure on your pump and engine which can lead to broken belts or ruined pumps or engines. 

Now, let's talk about surface cleaners...

Most surface cleaners have 2 tips or 3 tips on the spray bar. After you choose the degree that you like to use (first 2 digits) you will need to figure out what GPM rating you need for each tip. First, ask yourself what the GPM of the pressure washer you are using is. Then, find out how many tips are on the spray bar of your surface cleaner. You will want to evenly divide the GPM of the tips on the spray bar to match the GPM of your machine. Or if you want to reduce the PSI you will need to "oversize" your tips slightly. 

Heres an example:

Let's say you have a 8GPM at 3500 PSI pressure washer and you wanted to get as close to 3500 PSI as possible. You would need to run:

(2) 2504 tips or even (2) 4004 tips

The magic number is the last 2 digits because 04(GPM) x2 = 8GPM

If you wanted less PSI you might consider "oversizing" the tips and running:

(2) 25045 tips or even (2) 40045 tips

Again, the magic number is 045(GPM) x2 = 9GPM

If your surface cleaner spray bar has 3 nozzles then you would need to run:

(3) 25003 tips or even (3) 40003 tips

the magic number is 003(GPM) x3 = 9GPM (Oversized by 1GPM which will slightly reduce the PSI)


We highly suggest oversizing your tips most of the time when surface cleaning and even pressure washing with a gun because it allows your pressure washer to work a lot less hard and you can achieve the same or better results anyway by applying the proper detergent to the type of surface and stain that you are cleaning ahead of time. For example:

If you are cleaning something that has an organic stains like: Algae, Moss, Fungus or Lichen you will have better success by oversizing your tips and pre treating the surface with a mixture of SH (Sodium Hypochlorite) and a good surfactant like Apple Wash, Dragon Grip or Secret Agent.

(Pre-treating can be achieved by down streaming, 12 volt pump direct application, X-Jetting, pump up sprayer or a list of other ways.)

Same goes for an area that has grease stains or oil stains. Slap some Agent Blue, EBC Multi Purpose De-Greaser, F9 Double Eagle or even Gold Assassin down first, let it dwell then wash away. PSI is great and when its needed you can just adjust your tips to the recommend size but often a good detergent and your maximum amount of flow (GPM) will do the trick just as good and with less chance of damage due to a decrease in your PSI by over sizing your tips.

If you have any inorganic stains you can utilize products from Front 9 Restorations like F9 BARC, F9 Groundskeeper, or F9 Efflorescence. Another amazing product that we sell is EBC Restorer which works very well on so many inorganic stains and even removes tire marks and is a great product for new construction cleaning. EBC Restorer can also be applied through an injector at a ratio of 10:1 to easily remove Fire Retardant Powders which has become a very normal and very profitable service lately with all of the wild fires due to climate change. 

 For help determining your requirements, check out our Surface Cleaner Nozzle Selection Calculator!

At Big Shot Supplies we encourage you to understand proper tip selection and to get confident in: checking their condition often, changing them when needed and using different sizes depending on the type of surface that you are cleaning. 

Checking the nozzles condition  - With constant use the orifice can change or become plugged. If one grain of sand gets in your high pressure line it can work its way to the nozzle and could plug it up. At this point you will need to take apart the nozzle and use a dental pick to force it out. 3 easy ways to avoid this is to keep your equipment off the ground when not in use and to also avoid rinsing debris in the direction of your equipment. Also you should have a high pressure ball valve on the end of your hose so each time when you start your engine you can allow any grains of sand to flow out the hose before you hook up your gun or surface cleaner. 

Especially with surface cleaning you will want to change your tips regularly. With water being forced through the tiny holes for hours and hours at a time, each and every day, the nozzle can wear out by means of natural erosion. Over time a 25 degree nozzle will eventually turn into a 0 degree, so don't be that person who never changes the tips or considers doing any basic maintenance.

Also, that fact that the nozzles are spraying at such high pressures and are so low to the ground, there will be a rebound effect and the sand will reflect off the ground and again, start to erode the nozzles and even the spray bar. Best thing to do is to purchase 1 or 2 extra spray bars that fit your surface cleaner and have them available before you desperately need them. 

When it comes to tips you should always have extras on hand. Buy yourself a small box with dividers and stock up with the tip sizes you may need and then label and separate them.

Inside of that box throw the proper ratchet and socket that will be needed to replace the threaded nozzles. Also, have some teflon tape and sealant ready to go. Most of us wouldn't hesitate to spend $200-300 on an item for our business but we tend to shy away from stocking up on tips and other fittings. Honestly, $300 worth of tips and quick connects would keep you stocked up for a year or 2 and would help avoid costly downtime if an issue were to arise.

We hope this has helped you understand tips much better and if you have additional questions or feel like we left out something that may help others out then shoot us an email or give us a call anytime. 


Big Shot Supplies Canada




  • My soft wash tips read 25100, 25400,00100, and 00400. Why the extra 0?

    Travis Van Meer
  • Please note that the example they mentioned about halving 4000 psi in half to 2000 psi using a 25008 tip is most likely using 50 feet of hose. Keep in mind that if run a longer hose it will NOT work like that. The longer the hose the lower the psi will be (pressure loss due to friction). Running about 100-150 feet of hose with the same tip will bring you down to about 1200-1500 psi, so if you wanted to ACTUALLY get 2000 psi you would need to get a slighly smaller tip (maybe a size 7 or 6). A good pressure gauge is your best friend. Other than that, thank you for the information. Took me years to find out about nozzle sizes amd its good to have a company ACTUALLY trying to educate and not just sell you a product.

    Josue Barahona

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