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What Size Surface Cleaner do I Need? (Calculate with GPM)

Fact Checked By Daniel Wood | Post Updated On: December 30, 2023

It’s a common assumption among many consumers that bigger things are better, but it’s not always the case. In terms of surface cleaner, the size must match the power of your machine. In general, PSI and GPM are both important in measuring the suitable surface cleaner for your machine. Unfortunately, many of the users don’t even know that there is a concept of sizes in a surface cleaner; they just go to the shop and buy one that looks good without paying much attention to the size.

In the end, they fall into trouble and blame the manufacturer. Instead of doing this, they should ask what size surface cleaner do I need before confirming their purchase. The GPM of a pressure washer is the main factor that decides what size surface cleaner you should choose.

A surface cleaner’s size depends on the gallon per minute (GPM) of a machine. For one gallon per minute, a surface cleaner diameter should not exceed 4-5 inches. So, for example, if you have a machine of 3 GPM, you can purchase 12-15 inches of surface cleaner to get appropriate power.

what size surface cleaner do i need

What size pressure washer surface cleaner is right for me?

You have to do a little math in order to choose the right surface cleaner for your machine. As mentioned earlier, the size of a surface cleaner depends on your machine’s power (PSI and GPM).

 what size surface cleaner you should choose

GPM is the water flow rate of a machine that decides how much water the machine will provide in a minute. Therefore, the PSI of a pressure washer is always matched with its GPM for optimum performance.

For every GPM, you should count a 4-5 inch diameter surface cleaner. For example, you have a pressure washer with 4 GPM water flow, and you want to buy a surface cleaner. You multiply the GPM with 4-5, which comes up to 16-20 inches.

Therefore, 16-20 inches should be the diameter of the surface cleaner that you want to buy. Anything below or above the size of the surface cleaner will not provide you with the best result.

How much PSI do you need for a surface cleaner?

A surface cleaner contains multiple nozzles through which pressurized water comes out and hits a surface to clean.

The GPM of a machine is divided between the nozzles that a surface cleaner contains. For instance, if you have a pressure washer with 4 GPM and your surface cleaner has 2 nozzles, then you will get 2 GPM water flow in each nozzle.

With a 3-nozzle surface cleaner, you will get a water flow of 1.3 GPM in each nozzle. A higher GPM machine also needs a higher PSI to keep up with the water flow rate.

Generally, a pressure washer should have at least 2000 PSI and 3 GPM to use a surface cleaner. Anything less will not provide you with a good cleaning experience, and you will be frustrated.

If a surface cleaner nozzle provides less than 1 GPM water flow, it’ll not be effective in cleaning even the weak dirt.

To have a higher GPM in each nozzle, the gross GPM or the GPM of your machine should also be higher.

What should I look for in a surface cleaner?

Choosing a surface cleaner is not a difficult task if you have some of the things in mind.

First of all, you have to understand that surface cleaner can only be used on flat surfaces; for any uneven surface, your regular spray nozzle will be perfect.

Next is to check the PSI and GPM of your pressure washer to select the suitable surface cleaner for you. You can also check the nozzle chart list available on the internet for the right nozzle for your surface cleaner.

A good surface cleaner should have speed, efficiency, and ease of cleanup factors.

What size pressure washer do I need to clean a driveway?

The patio, driveway, garage, etc., are the areas that we feel comfortable cleaning with a surface cleaner.

A rotating surface cleaner is best for cleaning a large driveway; you just have to hold the cleaner over the surface and move slowly, and your cleaning will be done. In this type of surface, the attracted dirt is stronger than the other surfaces, and to clean them, you need a powerful machine.

Your machine should have at least 3000 PSI and 4 GPM, which can provide enough power to the surface cleaner.

18-20 inches diameter surface cleaners are best to clean a driveway. They can provide appropriate water forces with an adequate water supply. Hold the cleaner longer on a surface and move very slowly for better results.


Choose a surface cleaner wisely rather than buying anyone from the market. The size of your surface cleaner plays a significant role in cleaning an area.

Always select the lower-size surface cleaner that your machine can handle. This will help your cleaner to become powerful.

If you plan to use a surface cleaner, you should buy a powerful pressure washer so that its power doesn’t fall short.

About Daniel Wood

Daniel has completed his graduation mechanical engineering from a reputed university in US. He worked as a technical engineer in a pressure washer manufacturing plant for four years. He has a great passion for mechanical devices and has opened a workshop where he does research on various machines in his leisure time. His high interest in technology made him an expert in commercial and residential pressure washers.

2 thoughts on “What Size Surface Cleaner do I Need? (Calculate with GPM)”

  1. I have a 5.5gpm Simpson hot water pressure washer currently using a surface cleaner that’s 18″ and rated for 180° temp.

    What would the ideal size diameter and should I get a stainless steel unit because of the hot water I usually keep the temp about 160-180

  2. An 18″ stainless steel surface cleaner should work well with your 5.5 GPM hot water pressure washer. However, always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and product specifications to ensure compatibility and optimal performance.


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