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Best Way To Clean Paint Rollers: Critical Steps!

The fact that paint rollers do an excellent job of applying paints on tall walls and vertical surfaces is certainly not in doubt. Indeed, without these tools, the execution of painting may be nightmarish if not close to impossible.

It therefore, makes sense to know the best way to clean paint rollers for the sake of lengthening their overall lifespans. We have indeed researched and are going to lay bare the procedures you have to follow to achieve ultimate cleanliness!

How To Clean Paint Rollers

In this first segment, we shall delve into discussing the best steps to take to clean the paint rollers. We shall start off with the tools and materials necessary for the job and proceed to examine the procedures to follow.

Tools and Materials Required

painting tools to clean paint rollers
  • Tall bucket
  • Spinner (paint roller cleaner)
  • Turpentine
  • Solvent
  • Gloves
  • Face mask

Step-by-step Procedure To Clean Paint Rollers

Safety First 

There are several safety precautions you should take even when working with a water-based paint roller. 

While it’s perfectly normal to just wash water-based paints off your skin, tiny paint particles can still enter your system and create health problems even if they’ve just been on your skin for a few minutes.

Try to limit the amount of paint that comes in contact with your skin. So, before you start cleaning a paint roller, put on a pair of rubber or latex gloves.

Wearing a construction mask and goggles will particularly come in handy when using mineral spirits or other paint thinners to remove oil-based paint. This will protect your respiratory system from the hazardous fumes produced by these chemicals.

Decide On The Paint’s Base Color

If it’s not oil-based, all you’ll need is some warm water and soap to clean it. However, if you’ve been working with oils, you’ll need to add some white spirit to the mix. 

Acrylics also require specific care – either a special brush conditioner or a conditioning hand soap will suffice.

Squeeze out Excess Paints

Best way to clean paint rollers

Commence the entire exercise by squeezing out the excess paints. You have the choice of bare hands or curved tools to do the job. Place the can of paint underneath the roller to catch the paint that is released from the squeezing process. Take note that you do not spill the paint unnecessarily around the place you are working on.

Immediately you are through with squeezing out excess paints, wash your hands under running water and with turpentine. Do now allow the paint to dry and harden on your hands as it may be impossible to get rid of later.

Wash out the Paint Residues

Best way to clean paint rollers

It is not possible to squeeze out all the paint. Indeed, some paint will still remain in the roller even after squeezing them out in the step outlined above. You have to employ the washing technique to get rid of the paint residues.

To do this, you have to place the roller cover or sleeve on the spinner. Go ahead now to rotate the spinner slowly and steadily under a faucet which exudes preferably warmish water. Finish off this phase by rubbing the roller with your hands into a stream of water.

Remove The Roller and Clean The Frame

Pull the roller from the frame. Don’t forget to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. Cleaning the frame while the paint is still wet is considerably better. 

Fill a bucket halfway with warm water and add to it a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Next, remove the excess paint from the roller frame and handle it with an old rag or a stiff-bristled brush. 

Lastly, all you have to do is allow it to dry naturally.

Bleed the Remaining Paint

Cleaning paint roller

Yet again the step above will not get rid of all the paint from the roller. The last ammunition you have to employ now is the bleeding of the remaining paint. To accomplish, you have to spin the roller in a tall bucket and repeat the soaking and spinning over and over until all the paint is bled from the fibers. Given that this is the final process, you have to check that the roller is completely devoid of any paint before proceeding.

Allow to Dry

Lastly, allow drying. Just leave the roller out in the open in the sun to let it dry. For best outcomes, do not lay them down on the floor. Instead, hang them on a rope or any other high place. Laying them down will often crush the fibers on one side and even generate uneven rolls which definitely compromise the future painting outcomes.

In case the weather does not permit, you may have to use a plastic cover to provide extra storage. Some washing machines have driers that can handle such items. You may consider using it for the application if need be.

Remove and Clean The Paint Tray

Rinse the paint pan in a bucket of soapy water. Remove any dried paint at the edges with a stiff-bristled brush. If you’re not in a rush and you’re using a plastic tray or tray liner, let the paint dry before peeling it away. 

Carefully Dispose of The Cleaning Water

Never pour cleaning water down a stormwater drain because it may contain paint shards. Drain the water into a sewage drain that connects to a water treatment facility.

Roller Cleaning Gadgets

There’s almost always a tool that’ll do the job for you. Roller cleaners, for instance, let you place the roller within a plastic tube with the other end attached to a hosepipe. 

Water is then forced into the roller sleeve. It drives the paint out of the roller and out the opposite end of the device. 

These save your time, but you’ll certainly need to give it a final wash with warm water to clean it entirely.

Common Tips For Great Paint Roller Cleaning

Now that you know the best way to clean the paint rollers, isn’t it also wise to familiarize yourself with the common tips which may guarantee great cleaning exercise and outcomes? We have sampled five of the best tips of that kind below:

Tip 1: Recycle the Roller

If you plan to pain surfaces more often, you do not have to clean the roller after each session. Instead, wrap it in a plastic bag. Thereafter, tuck it in a refrigerator until such a time when you might need it again.

Before using it, remove it from the refrigerator and let it stay in the room temperature to thaw. This way, you will save yourself a great deal of time and effort. You will also spend less on average to care for, operate, and maintain the paint rollers.

Tip 2: Make use of appropriate Solvents

The procedures we have outlined above are generic. The real-life situation is rather complex. Because of this reason, you will have to modify the procedures above to respond to your unique circumstance. For example, you might have to acquire turpentine and use it to rid the roller of any oil-based paints.

Hot rather than cold water is necessary for the removal of the latex paints, and so on. You have to be certain that the solvent of choice does not stink excessively nor predispose you to the risks of lung cancer.

Tip 3: Utilize the Hair Conditioners while Washing

In the course of applying the paint, the bristles do harden and lose their ability to spread out smoothly. It is therefore thoughtful of you to use the hair conditioners regularly on the bristles after a couple of uses.

These substances soften the bristles and ensure that they retain their softness for a prolonged duration of time. Also achieving the same roles are fabric conditioners. Purchase those that are specially designed for heavy fabrics like the carpets and rugs for better outcomes.

Tip 4: Avoid Using Smelly Solvents

Whereas solvents are necessary for ridding the rollers of excess paints, it is necessary to avoid those that do not smell great. They have the impact of predisposing you to the risks of respiratory tract infections. If these infections go on unabated, they might usually end up in premature deaths.

You may consider not utilizing the solvents at all if you happen to be allergic to them. A face mask may come in handy though for mild cases.

Tip 5: Clear the Scene

After you have completed cleaning the paint rollers, clear the scene where you have performed the act. Open the window and switch on the fan to get rid of the sharp smell of the solvents. Mop the floor dry to clear out any spills which might cause the room occupants to slip and fall off, and store any other items you may have used.

Preserving The Paint Roller is important!

Cover the roller brush with aluminum foil and roll out as much extra paint as possible. To keep any air out, crimp the foil’s edges. 

If you’re going to leave the roller alone overnight, put it in the fridge to keep it fresh (still wrapped in foil).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you wash and reuse a paint roller?

High quality paint rollers can be washed and used a second time. You need to make certain that the roller does not have a cardboard inner tube and you need to make sure that you were painting with a water soluble paint and not with an oil based paint.

Is it worth cleaning paint rollers?

Really good paint rollers can cost six dollars or more per roller. It is well worth the time and effort to wash the roller if you are using a quality roller. If you are using a roller that cost about 2 dollars then you can save time and simply throw the roller away and get a new one when you start painting again.

Should you wet your paint roller before painting?

You do not need to get your paint roller wet before you apply paint to it. You want the roller to absorb or soak up the paint from your paint pan so do not immerse the roller in water before beginning to paint.

Do you have to wash paint rollers between coats?

You do not have to wash a paint roller between coats if the paint dries quickly. If the paint takes more than an hour to dry then you should wash your roller so the paint on the roller does not dry out while you are waiting

How Often Should You Clean Your Paint Roller?

You should consider cleaning the paint roller at the end of each painting session. Remember that cleanup is easier and more successful when the paint is wet. Also, remember to clean the roller frame and paint the pan.


As you may well have realized, getting rid of the excess paint from the rollers is a slow and meticulous undertaking. This is a chore which calls for the employment of great skill, maximum patience, and of course a couple of co-operant tools of the trade.

For these reasons, you have to invest a great deal of practice and effort to be able to get it right. Needless to say, you will require great assistance from trained experts in the field of paint removal to get you started but as you learn from them and this website, you will soon become an expert yourself.

About Lisa Bohrer

Lisa is a native Texan who says she wears many hats. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, farmer, animal lover, fisherwoman, gardener, and college student. Lisa is a sophomore at Liberty University where she is taking classes to earn her Associates Degree in Creative Writing. She and her husband of 35 years fill their days with life on the farm raising goats and chickens, and then most evenings she can be found at the computer writing, or researching a topic that has piqued her interest.

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