Thursday 5 July 2018

Community Question: How do you clean yours?

Hi all

So no matter how hard I try, things get old and need to be tossed. 

I want to prolong the life of my paintbrushes and Airbrushes so I was wondering how you out there care for your tools of the painter’s trade. 

I have an ultrasonic cleaner and ultrasonic cleaner (mainly for glasses/rings etc). I want a fluid that works for this when it comes to removing paint from my airbrush components. 

They get old and eventually get clogged up at the bottom. Just use water (Citadel paints). 



  1. Hi. I use the Premi Air Foaming cleaner and Liquid Reamer aerosol cleaners and have done so for years. Also picked up a set of five small brushes Very useful product. But I should really strip the airbrush down every so often to give it a good clean all over! For brushes just water here, got a bit lazy over cleaning brushes. Wash and wipe make sure the point is good and back in the jar. I did try the brush soap by Masters, but rarely use it.

  2. I don't use an airbrush that often so there I have no real advice. As for brushes, mine often wear out before the clogging at the bottom becomes a problem (drybrushing). I use water to clean them but make sure always to clean them along the stands so that I do not bend them outwards. Think I have used the same detail brush for at least 5 if not more years but the drybrushing ones only last a couple of months (due to wear). I consider brushes to be consumables much like paint. I always have a number of them in different stages so that I can use each for the proper stage before it gets discarded (there is an evolution along a brushes life where it can be used for different purposes). The problem is finding suitable replacements. I tend to look for the cheaper ones to keep to cost down. Children's ponytail brushes are the best for drybrushing, but other soft, natural material brushes also work (no synthetics). For detail brushes any fine point brush will do as long at you do not rub the bristles the wrong way. Just dag it along the shaft on some tissue paper with the point pointing backwards.

  3. For brushes: I use an art-gel brush soap (which is similar to the Masters' stuff linked by Mark G, but as a gel, rather than solid).

    For my Airbrush, I completely strip it down when I'm cleaning up after using it and clean it out using Vallejo Airbrush Cleaner, it's quite potent and gets just about everything loose.
    Then to get into the hard to reach bits I use a set of miniature pipe-cleaners and simple cotton swabs. It's a fair bit of work, but it means your brush will be clean as can be the next time you pick it up to paint.

  4. Air brush maintenance is about one thing, use the least abrasive method possible. I took the CK studio class last year, Caleb's method of cleaning is simple. Back flow and dump your paint between colors, clean with cotton buds and 90/10 water alcohol, same thing he uses for thinning, if something is really clogged, straight alcohol. If that doesn't work, tear it down and clean with alcohol, 70% Isopropal will strip most paint off with light work from the bottom bud. At the end of the day, pull the needle, alcohol clean it and put it back in but leave it not fully seated. Using even nylon brushes made for "airbrush cleaning" degrades your chrome coating on the brush, and causes paint to stick more. As for sonic cleaners, i have heard mixed results, which include them damaging the soldered welds in the brushes, I don't touch them and haven't needed to. two other things, properly thinned paint is a must, thick paint clogs and when air shooting primers, be EXTRA Careful, they are designed to stick to metal. I have an old Iwata that is the only brush I prime with.

  5. For my airbrush, I run water thru it when switching colors until its spraying clean. After a while, shit does build up. At that point i strip off the plastic parts, get a tray and have it soak for a day or 2 in Hoppes #9 gun cleaner. It has a little bit of oil in it to lube it all. Word of warning: when you blow it out after using Hoppes, do it outside. You do NOT want to breath that in.