Keeping your airbrush clean is the key to making sure it functions perfectly.
In the following, you will learn everything you need to know to properly clean your airbrush as well as different methods for cleaning your airbrush between colors and for deep cleaning it after a painting session.
- Supplies Needed
- Instructions for Cleaning When Switching Colors
- Quick Clean Instructions
- Deep Clean Instructions
- That’s a Wrap!
- Airbrush Cleaner (for quick and deep clean only)
- Airbrush cleaning pot
- Paper towels
- Pipe cleaners (for deep cleaning)
- Old paint brush (for quick cleaning only)
- Small cleaning brush (for deep cleaning)
- Scrap paper
- Container for pouring airbrush cleaner in (quick clean and deep clean only)
- Container for soaking airbrush parts (deep clean only)
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Instructions for Cleaning When Switching Colors
When switching colors you can either change the colors by simply putting one color in directly after the other, or rinse your airbrush with water when switching between dark and light colors.
This method works well with water-based paints.
1. Remove Paint
Empty excess paint from the paint cup.
2. Add New Color
Put the next color in without cleaning the old paint out.
3. Spray the Airbrush
Spray the airbrush a few times into either an airbrush cleaning pot or into rags or paper towels to get the rest of the old paint color out.
The first few sprays may be all of the old color, and as you keep spraying you might see a muddied color that is a mix of the old color and the new color.
To avoid spraying muddied colors onto your project, keep spraying the airbrush until you get a pure version of the new color.
Switching From a Dark Color to a Light Color
Switching from a dark to a light color might make it take longer for the muddiness to go away.
In the case of switching from a dark to a light color, rinse the paint cup with water first, then spray clean water onto paper towels or rags until the airbrush sprays clean.
1. Rinse Paint Cup
Rinse the paint cup with water until it runs clear.
2. Scrub the Paint Cup
Use an old paintbrush to scrub the paint out.
3. Spray the Airbrush
Spray water through the airbrush into rags, paper towels, or a cleaning cup until it sprays clear.
4. Add the Next Color
Put the new color in the airbrush, and do a practice spray. If the color is clean and vivid, then you can start painting!
Quick Clean Instructions
You can also use a quick-clean method. This method is a good choice when you need to switch colors and are using solvent-based paints.
For Gravity Feed Airbrushes:
1. Take Off the Paint Cup Lid
Remove the cup lid.
2. Pour Out Extra Paint
Dump out excess paint from the paint cup.
3. Clean the Paint Cup Out
Pour a small amount of airbrush cleaner into a container. Then dip a rag into the airbrush cleaner and wipe the cup out.
Spray cleaner through the airbrush until it sprays clear. You can spray the airbrush into a spray out pot, into paper towels or a rag, or onto scrap paper.
For Siphon Feed Airbrushes:
1. Remove the Paint Bottle
Take the paint bottle out of the airbrush.
2. Attach a Bottle of Airbrush Cleaner to the Airbrush
Fill a clean bottle with airbrush cleaner and attach it to the airbrush.
3. Spray the Cleaner Through the Airbrush
Spray the cleaner through the airbrush until it sprays clear.
Deep Clean Instructions
Whenever you finish an airbrush painting session, you should do a deep clean of your airbrush. This helps to keep your airbrush in optimal functioning condition.
1. Disconnect the Air Source
Remove the air source from the airbrush.
2. Remove the Back Handle
Take off the back handle.
3. Loosen the Chucking Nut
Loosen the needle chucking nut.
4. Remove the Needle
Carefully take the needle out.
5. Clean the Needle
Apply airbrush cleaner to a rag or paper towel and carefully clean the needle with airbrush cleaner, wiping away from you and in one direction toward the sharp point.
6. Loosen the Needle Cap
Unscrew the needle cap.
7. Take Off the Nozzle Cap
Remove the nozzle cap.
8. Soak the Airbrush Parts
Soak the nozzle, needle cap, nozzle head cap (if applicable), and nozzle cap in airbrush cleaner for a maximum of 10 minutes.
9. Scrub the Airbrush Parts
Dip a small scrub brush in the airbrush cleaner and scrub the nozzle, needle cap, nozzle head cap, and nozzle cap.
10. Clean the Paint Passage
For a gravity-feed airbrush, push a pipe cleaner or cleaning brush into the paint passage near the front of the airbrush.
For siphon-feed airbrushes, push the brush or pipe cleaner into the bottle joint near the front of the airbrush.
Twist the cleaning brush or pipe cleaner to scrub the paint passage until you have removed all of the paint.
11. Clean the Exterior of the Airbrush
Wipe down the outside of the airbrush with a rag dipped in a small amount of airbrush cleaner.
That’s a Wrap!
There are three primary methods for cleaning your airbrush, the color change, the quick clean, and the deep clean.
For the color change you can dump any excess paint from the paint cup and simply put a new color in, or you can rinse the cup out with water and spray water through the airbrush until it sprays clear.
This method works well with acrylics.
For the quick-clean method you simply remove excess paint from the paint cup or bottle, and then spray airbrush cleaner through the airbrush until it sprays clear.
To deep clean your airbrush, you can disassemble the machine and soak removable parts in airbrush cleaner for 10 minutes.
You will want to wipe paint from the needle and from the exterior of the airbrush, and use a pipe cleaner or a small cleaning brush to scrub the paint passage.