Sprayer cleanout is essential to ensure your sprayer operates at peak efficiency. Over time, product residues can accumulate in sprayer components, leading to reduced performance and potential crop damage. Labels of most pesticide products provide sprayer cleanout instructions, often involving ammonia-based cleaners and, or detergents.

Ammonia-Based Cleaners

Ammonia-based cleaners neutralize acidic residues left by herbicides, which chemically bond to sprayer surfaces and are difficult to remove with water alone. The high pH of ammonia neutralizes the acidic residues into smaller, less harmful compounds through saponification. Ammonia also effectively removes mineral deposits from sprayer components.

Ammonia is required for cleanout in most group 2 herbicide chemistries, excluding Imidazolinone products (Solo ADV, Davai 80SL, Pursuit, Phantom, Ares, Quasar, Odyssey, Python, Viper ADV, etc.). Sulfonylureas (SU’s) and triazolopyrimidines (TZP) are the most persistent chemicals due to their low solubility. However, a proper tank cleanout eliminates concerns.

Some examples of SU and TZP products are:
– Ally, Express Pro, Smoulder, Express SG, Express Pro, Barricade II, Express FX, Intruvix, Predicade, etc. (SU)
– Prepass Flex and XC, Hotshot, Spitfire, Priority, Korrex II, Paradigm, Simplicity, Tandem, Tridem, Erebus Xtreme, Avenza, Akito, Exhilarate, Cirpreme, Exhilarate, Stellar, Outshine, Rexade (TZP)

When tank mixed, emulsifiable concentrate (EC) formulations may leave an oily film that traps SU’s or other actives in the tank and hoses. In such cases, using detergents becomes necessary for effective cleanout.


Detergents utilize surfactants to reduce water’s surface tension, allowing it to penetrate and remove substances like oil and grease. Surfactants possess hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties, forming micelles that lift residues from surfaces. Rinsing with water easily removes these micelles, leaving the sprayer clean and free from buildup. Non-ionic surfactants, specifically Agral 90 at 0.6% v/v, can be an alternative to detergents. Consult the product label to determine the most suitable cleaning product for your tank mix.

In summary, ammonia-based cleaners neutralize acidic residues and dissolve mineral deposits, while detergents excel at removing oil and residues. Understanding their distinctions and selecting the appropriate solution ensures optimal sprayer performance and crop protection. If unsure, consult the product label, Saskatchewan Crop Protection Guide, or contact your local HFL sales agronomist.

Products available at Horizon Fertilizers

For ammonia we carry Flush and Finish. Both contain 7% ammonia. The label rate is 0.50 L/100 L of water. If you use 400 gallons of water, you will need 7.57L of ammonia (3/4 of a jug).

For detergent we carry All Clear. The label rate is 0.25 L / 100 L of water. For every 400 gallons of water, use 3.78L (1 jug). For decontamination, double the rate and use 7.57L (2 jugs).

10L jug of flush sitting beside a 3.78L jug of all