Adding dish soap to your sprayer?

I’ve had problems with my sprayer clogging in the last couple years when I sprayed dormant oil and copper (Kocide). Will adding dish soap to the mixture help keep everything well mixed and moving?

If so, how much per gallon of water?

I clean my sprayer after every use with Dawn dish detergent. Do you clean
your sprayer after every use? If you don’t, that’s your problem. My sprayer
has never clogged in all the years I’ve had it.

Mine also never has clogged and I used Wilt Stop in it for two years. that stuff is like pine tar, if not washed out the sprayer would be useless.
I suppose some might have a bad design and clog. Add the copper last, and continue shaking every few minutes. You could try adding dawn, I would think though it might weaken the oil, then again the copper is probably more important.
I usually don’t use oil with it. I use a sticker which works great! I spray sulfur and oil in the fall after leaf drop.

Interesting. That might be my problem. For the last couple of years I added the copper first because I thought it was important to get that completely mixed into the water before I added the less mixable oil. (I don’t really know if the dormant oil is less mixable, but I just figured it would be).

I do shake the sprayer like crazy, but it doesn’t seem to help. My problem has been the little, almost conical shaped screen inside the wand. That has gotten gummed up in the past.

Ray - I must admit I’m not great about cleaning sprayers between usage, but I clean them at the end of the season and my next use is the copper/oil mixture so it should be as clean as it’s ever going to get!

Maybe get another sprayer. I went through one or two before I found one I like. Marketed by a local nursery. It never leaks, or has stopped performing since I got it. You could try opening it up more too. Although a fine mist is best. Takes longer to coat, but coats well.

Bart…I never have any issue with any of the many things I spray…EXCEPT for copper and oil. Like Drew said, I think you have to keep it agitated when spraying. I guess copper being a heavy metal drops out of solution quickly. It really is a PIA to spray. Opening up the spray a bit might help some, but really it’s the concentrates at the bottom of the tank that is the problem. If your pickup tube goes all the way to the bottom of the tank, it may help some to either bend it a bit or cut it off 1/2" above the tank bottom.
Some types of copper might be a bit better, but the copper sulfate I spray wants to clog a lot. Remember, the fine screen is really needed for other sprays, so the real issue is settling. Not much you can do about that if your using a hand sprayer, other than to try to keep it shaken up and try to work quickly.

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I’m amazed by everyone saying they haven’t had clogs! To be clear, is everyone talking about hand-held, pump-up sprayers? If so, I must be doing something awfully wrong because mine clogs up during almost every use at least a little bit. I can usually bang the end of it (my high tech repair) and clear it out, or take off the tip and blow it out, but certainly it does get clogged a lot. ANd when I’m spraying liquid seven dust (even the premade liquid) for Jap Bettles- forget it! I shake it the whole time and it still constantly clogs. Before someone suggests I get a new sprayer- I have! Three times in the last 3 years. Different brands. Oh…and @Bart , I use about a teaspoon full of joy detergent in every single spray. I read somewhere that it is a poor mans sticker (others here say thats not true so I’m going to stop that) but the point is that it hasn’t prevented clogging.

I just bought a new, commercial grade back pack sprayer yesterday, so I’m hoping it will be better!

No matter what type of sprayer you have, if you don’t clean it
after every time you use it, it’s going to eventually clog on you,
no matter what chemical you spray. If you take care of your tools,
they’ll take care of you.


It’s not really a poor man’s sticker, but rather a poor man’s spreader. I too have tried lemon Joy a long time ago, it doesn’t do much, if anything. It works as a spreader, but because it’s a surfactant, I’d expect it operates as an anti-sticker if anything.

Yes. no clogs, never leaks, holds pressure. And yes I clean it every time I use it. So I clean maybe 30 times a year.

Yeah…no problems with mine at all, other than the copper. I never clean mine (though I agree it’s a good idea), I usually don’t even spray clean water through it. I don’t even clean it at the end of the season.

I must confess that my sprayer care habbits are much closer to Jeff’s than Drews, but if you aren’t having problems (Jeff) then I really am not sure what my problems are. Possibly its just the seven dust that I never quite get cleaned out. Either way, hopefully my new sprayer will be better. I paid $89 for a 4-gallon back pack sprayer yesterday even though there was a similar one right next to it for $59. I probably got suckered in because it cost more and said it was “commercial” and had a “piston pump” and the other one was probably just as good, but I’m so tired of sprayer clogs that I thought I’d give it a try to see if it is any better. I’ll let ya’ll know!

Someone else suggested that the soap might actually be causing my sprays to come off easier, so like I said…no more soap for me!

The tip/nozzle type also makes quite a difference in how often they clog, I have found. The inexpensive hard plastic nozzles tend to clog a lot. I also have a backpack sprayer and the nozzle is a small hole in a rubber like disk. Small particles can pass through the hole in the rubber without clogging, and so I rarely have had to clear a clog out of this sprayer.

The only time mine was clogging,was when spraying powdered Sulfur,that was added to water,to go after Pear Leaf Blister Mites.After the nozzle stopping every fifteen seconds,I misted the tree with water and scattered the dust on.It must have worked,the leaves after awhile,showed no symptoms. Brady

Brady…you need to look for micronized sulfur…it does not, and will not clog EVER, no matter what you do. Furthermore, you can store it in a damp basement (like mine) with the bag unsealed and STILL it will NOT clump, clog or otherwise give you any trouble at all. Right down to the bottom of the tank…no issues whatsoever even when sprayed at double the max rate.

City…you keep saying “sevin dust”. If you are spraying sevin dust, it isn’t meant to be sprayed. It may be true that it can be used as flowable powder (that does not mean with water), but if it’s “sevin dust” I’m thinking it’s not meant to be sprayed. I once tried mixing sevin dust and all it would do is float on the water, no matter how much I agitated or stirred it. Around here, nobody sells WP versions of Sevin, it’s always just the dust. Of course, I’m aware that it is available.
You also mentioned sevin liquid I think, it is meant for spraying (obviously) and it should spray without issue. I’ve sprayed lots of it with no problems.
You might (your call) consider something else. Both Imidan WP and Captan WDG mix like powdered milk (to be honest, they mix much more readily than that). Literally speaking, neither one even really requires agitation at all. The full pressure from your hose will more than adequately mix the combo to full spray readiness and there will be virtually nothing left in the tank when your finished. With the exception of Jap beetles, Imidan is vastly superior in damaging insect control, both by my experience and by efficacy charts. Carbaryl (while a great resource) is like a lavender air freshener to Plum Curculio. It is virtually useless in that regard. I really only see Carbaryl as useful for Japanese Beetle control, in which it really excels (it’s also better for ticks too if that’s important).
Last year, I too, bought a lower end commercial grade backpack sprayer and it was horrible. It cost even more than your’s and had the brass spray nozzle (overrated) and all. 4 gals. plus the sprayer is over 30 pounds…that may not sound like much (and your bigger and probably younger than me), but it gets WAY heavy on a 90 F day with high humidity. It takes A LOT of pumping to maintain adequate spray pressure and I ended up wasting a lot of spray.
For the amount of trees you have (and even me) you really need to look at a powered sprayer that you can tow behind your lawn tractor or whatever. Trust me, you’ll get 30% less mileage out of your spray chemicals with the backpack. You’ll spray wrecklessly to get the weight the Hell off your back, and to be done with the endless pumping required…I know I did.
They take WAY more pumping for some reason. Actually, I think the delivery rate (yeah, I know it’s adjustable) is just so much higher that the tank pressure is lowered so much quicker.
I was so sure it would be awesome…not so.

I use the cheap sprayer and never get any clogs even spraying copper. Copper is something I could see clogging because I went in and ate lunch one day and had a cup of coffee let’s say the mixture was seperating in that 30 minutes. I only spray copper, fungicide, antibiotic (rarely) and pesticide. I have sulphur and will try it more this year.

I clogged my backpack sprayer once with copper. I had to take it all apart to fix it. The problem was the powder got stuck in the intake. Now I mix it in really well with a small bit of water and it always is fine. Occasionally a Surround blob will get stuck but if I agitate and pump hard I can clear it. I never soap out the sprayer but I always rinse until the spray runs clear, and I clean the wand screen out every couple of sprays.


In case there are any new growers reading this thread, I thought I might mention what I would recommend for appropriate sized sprayer equipment for full sized pedestrian trees w/ a canopy diameter of 18-20’.

1-3 trees. Handheld 2 gal. pump up sprayer.

4-10 trees. 4 gal. backpack.

11-60 trees. Some type of a powered wand sprayer. Obviously larger capacity for the greater number of trees.

Also might be a good idea to plan sprayer equip. for future planting of trees. Many people originally plan for a few trees but continue to plant more trees till all their green space is full.

Also use a separate sprayer if you plan to spray herbicides. Sprayers can be cleaned, but even a very small amount of herbicide residue in the sprayer could affect trees if sprayed directly on the foliage.

Lastly, along w/ Apple and City, I recommend purchasing good quality spray equipment. Regardless how expensive the spray equipment is, with careful management, fruit harvest returns will be multi-fold.

Others’ thoughts?

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Thanks very much for that.I’ve never heard of it.The stuff was wettable Sulfur. Brady