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How to Clean a Paint Sprayer Gun – In Four Steps


Using a paint sprayer will help you to get finished with your painting project quicker. Using a paint sprayer will allow you to apply steady and even layers of paint that create a professional-looking finish. The most important thing you need to know about using a paint sprayer is how to clean the paint sprayer properly

It is imperative that you clean your paint sprayer properly after each use. If you skip this cleaning or try to take a shortcut, then you could wind up having to buy a new paint sprayer.

  1. Prepare the Paint Sprayer for the Cleaning
  2. Clean the Little Things First
  3. Cleaning the Siphon Tube
  4. Cleaning the entire system out

Step by Step Guide to Clean a Spray Gun (Graco, Airless, and Wanger)

Follow all the cleaning steps in the right order when cleaning a paint sprayer. Start with removing any excess then clean the filters, nozzle, and gun.

Step 1: Prepare the Paint Sprayer for the Cleaning

Prepare the Paint Sprayer for the Cleaning

There are a few things you must do to prepare the paint sprayer for the cleaning process.

  1. Turn the power off.
  2. Set the pressure adjustment on the paint sprayer to the lowest possible setting
  3. Depress the trigger on the paint sprayer to make certain that the pressure in the gun has been relieved
  4. Turn the prime valve into the open position
  5. Remove the filter
  6. Remove the tips

Step 2: Clean the Little Things First

Step by Step Guide to Spray Gun Cleaning & Maintenance

You can begin the cleaning process by cleaning the tips and the filter. Some people like to soak their tips and filter while they are cleaning the rest of the gun. Soaking is a good alternative and you just have to decide what method of cleaning your tips and filter work best for your situation.

  1. You can make a mixture of water and paint thinner to help you clean away every particle of paint. This is the best thing to do if you have been painting with oil-based paint or primer.
  2. Carefully clean each piece
  3. If you use water and paint thinner or mineral spirits to clean your tips and filter you should wash the tips and filters with plain water and a mild detergent to remove any paint thinner residue. After you wash the items with a mild detergent and water then be sure to rinse them thoroughly.
  4. Allow the tips and filter to air dry while you clean the rest of the paint sprayer

Step 3: Cleaning the Siphon Tube

Cleaning the Siphon Tube sprayer

It is now time to take that siphon tube out of the paint it is in.

  1. Simply remove the siphon tube
  2. Immediately flush the paint that is in the tube out
  3. If you are using water-based paint you can flush the siphon tube with clean water. You may want to use a mixture of water and a mild detergent. Flush the paint from the tube and then rinse the tube out by flushing it with clean water.

If you have been painting with oil-based paint you will need to use a paint thinner like mineral spirits to dissolve the paint during the flushing process. I recommend that you mix the mineral spirits with water and flush that way first. Then you should follow the mineral spirit flushing with flushing of soap and water. Once you finish the soap and water flush then rinse everything with clean water.

Step 4: Cleaning the entire system out

It is now time to flush out the entire paint gun system.

  1. With the flushing tube in the cleaning solution, you have chosen you will now run the cleaning solution through the entire system
  2. Place the siphon tube in a cleaning solution
  3. Turn the power on to the paint sprayer
  4. Activate the trigger and keep it depressed until you see the cleaning fluid begin to flow out of the spray paint gun
  5. Continue to pump cleaner through the system until the fluid that flows through the gun is completely clear. This may take a few minutes so do not be in a big hurry
  6. Turn the power off
  7. Reassemble your sprayer

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should HVLP gun be cleaned between coats?

If you are waiting on the first coat of paint to dry then you will most likely want to go ahead and clean your sprayer to prevent any paint from becoming gummy or drying in the spray gun system. To know more check this video guide.

How to Clean a Spray Gun after Water-Based Paint?

Water-based paints make the cleaning of the tools very easy. If you use water-based paint you want to clean your tools using mild soap and water and then rinse those tools carefully using just clean water.

Follow each step as it is listed above. You just want to use no minerals spirits or paint thinners during the cleaning process.

Be sure that you clean the paint sprayer as soon as you finish because water-based paints also dry faster and paint can dry inside the spray paint gun in a shorter amount of time.

How do you clean a latex spray gun?

Latex spray guns are cleaned with simple soap and water solutions. You must clean the gun as soon as you finish painting to avoid paint drying inside the gun.

If you are using water-based paint like latex it might be tempting to use a cleaner like ammonia, vinegar, or even mineral spirits to make certain that you get all paint remnants out of your gun. This is NOT, I repeat, NOT, a good idea.

Water-based paint will become sticky when you mix it with degreasers and cleaning agents like mineral spirits. Instead of flushing out more paint by using these items, you will be causing more paint to adhere to the cracks and crevices inside your paint spray gun.

If you are using water-based paints, then use water, to clean the paint away. You can add a mild soap-like dish detergent, but for the most part, water is going to remove everything without any additional ingredients.

Is one paint thinner better than another for cleaning purposes?

Automobile-grade lacquer thinner is the highest quality paint thinner. Of course, using the highest quality thinner is recommended. Normal mineral spirits that you can purchase at any paint supply store are extremely good at cleaning spray paint guns and the normal mineral spirits is a lot less expensive than automotive grade lacquer thinner.

Can I hook my paint sprayer up to my garden hose?

Some paint sprayers are designed with fittings that allow you to connect them to an ordinary garden hose. With this type of paint sprayer, the pressure of the water passing through the hose is generally adequate for removing all paint residue inside the paint spray gun and you do not need to use soap and water combinations.

Understand that if you use oil-based paints or acrylic paints then you cannot clean the residue out of the paint gun with just water. If you are using a spray paint gun that connects to a garden hose for cleaning purposes be sure to read the manufacturer’s recommendations before you paint with an oil-based primer or paint.

Should I leave the cap on the paint gun when I am cleaning it after use?

If you leave the cap on the paint gun then the paint is simply going to be impossible to remove from inside the cap. The paint on the fluid tip is also going to be almost impossible to get out. Over a period of time, this will cause your spray paint gun to become useless.

You should remove the cap and clean out any paint that is inside the cap. Clean off any paint that is on the fluid tip and any paint that is on the flow brush.

Pay real close attention to the tiny holes on the portion of the air cap that looks like horns. If those tiny little holes become clogged your air paint sprayer is ruined.

Should I worry about fluids getting into the air passage of my spray paint gun while I am cleaning it?

Yes, you should be concerned about these fluids. If the air passages get moisture inside them repeatedly then corrosion can begin to occur. Eventually, that corrosion will start to create flakes that ruin your paint finish.

You need to attach the compressed air quick disconnect while you are cleaning the gun. This quick disconnect will effectively stop the fluids from getting in the air passage. It even increases the power of the spray gun while you are cleaning it allowing more paint particles to be flushed properly away by the mixture of air and fluid forcing through the gun.


Final Note on How to Clean a Paint Sprayer Gun

You should always make cleaning your spray paint gun a priority. The job is not finished until the cleanup is finished.

Cleaning the paint out of your gun and gun accessories will extend the life and performance abilities of the gun. If you allow the paint to dry inside the spray paint gun there is a good chance that the gun will not function the next time you want to use it.

Always read the manufacturer’s suggestions on how to clean your spray paint gun. You may void your warranty if you use the wrong cleaning methods or solutions.

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