How to Clean a Paint Sprayer Gun

When you buy a paint sprayer, the most important maintenance you will perform is cleaning.  How to clean a paint sprayer gun is vital to keeping your gun working and painting like new.

Keep your spray gun in tip top shape with our easy to follow How-To Guide.

How to clean a paint sprayer gun
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How To Clean a Paint Sprayer Gun

Cleaning a paint sprayer is essential to ensure its proper functioning and prolong its lifespan. A clogged or dirty paint sprayer can lead to poor paint quality, uneven coverage, and even damage to the equipment.

How you clean your paint sprayer depends on a few things.  What type of paint, lacquer, enamel etc. you used and what your manufacturer recommends.  We will discuss how you clean a paint sprayer gun focusing on the type of medium you used.  

Prepare for Cleaning

Before starting make sure that you have all the necessary equipment and supplies at hand. You will need a bucket of water, a cleaning solution (such as paint thinner or mineral spirits), a cleaning brush or rag, and a wrench to remove the nozzle.

You should wear protective gloves, eye goggles, and a respirator to prevent exposure to paint fumes and cleaning chemicals. Make sure that the paint sprayer is unplugged and the pressure is released to prevent accidents.

Flush the Sprayer with Water

The next step is to flush the sprayer with water. You can use the paint pick up hose or you can fill the paint cup with water. Make sure the paint cup is clean before starting this step. Flush until the water comes out of the sprayer nice and clear. You can then move on to taking your sprayer apart.

Taking Apart Your Paint Sprayer

Remove any parts that can be removed like the nozzle, air cap, fluid tip, and needle.

Use a wrench to remove the nozzle and any other removable parts. Make sure to keep the different parts organized.

Now, soak the components in water. Use a bucket of clean water and fill it with enough water to cover the parts completely. Place the parts in the bucket and let them soak for a few minutes.

Use a cleaning brush or rag to scrub the parts thoroughly, removing any paint or debris from your sprayer and its parts . Pay attention to the smaller parts, such as the nozzle and fluid tip, and ensure that they are completely clean.

After cleaning the parts, rinse them with clean water to remove any remaining paint or cleaning solution. Ensure that all the components are completely clean and free of any debris.

Use a Cleaning Solution

If water alone is not sufficient to clean the parts, you can use a cleaning solution such as paint thinner or mineral spirits. These solvents are effective in dissolving dried paint and stubborn stains.

Fill a bucket with the cleaning solution and place the components in the solution. Let them soak for a few minutes and use a brush or rag to scrub the parts, paying attention to the smaller parts.

Rinse the components with clean water to remove any remaining cleaning solution. Ensure that all the parts are completely clean and free of any debris.

Reassemble the Paint Sprayer

After cleaning and rinsing all the components, the next step is to reassemble the paint sprayer. Ensure that all the parts are dry before reassembling them to prevent rust or damage. We recommend letting the parts air dry instead of rubbing them dry. This will keep random bits of lint etc., from getting into your sprayer.

Start by reattaching the nozzle and any other removable parts, making sure to tighten them securely. Reassemble the gun by attaching the fluid tip and needle, and then attaching the air cap.

Ensure that all the components are assembled correctly and that there are no loose parts. Once the paint sprayer is reassembled, it is ready for use.

Store the Paint Sprayer Properly

Proper storage is essential to maintain the optimal performance of a paint sprayer. After cleaning and reassembling the components, ensure that the paint sprayer is stored in a clean and dry place.

Cover the paint sprayer with a plastic bag or wrap to prevent dust and debris from accumulating on the components. Ensure that the hose is properly coiled and secured to prevent damage.

We recommend you buy a storage fluid to pour into your paint sprayer that keeps the washers etc. lubricated so they won’t dry out while it’s in storage.

How to Clean a Paint Sprayer Gun : Tips and Things to Know

Many things are available to clean a paint sprayer gun from soap and water to paint sprayer cleaning solvent, to thinners.  Again, what you use to clean your gun depends on what type of paint you put in it.

Cleaning your gun keeps it running in tip top shape, so that the paint you spray is smooth and consistent. Dried paint inside your gun can lead to clogging which will ruin your gun, sprayer tips, and your paint job.  The last thing you want is dried bits and chunks of paint coming out onto your painting surface.  

Yuck.  You should take apart your sprayer as much as you can to clean each of the parts.  This allows you to be sure that you’ve gotten all the paint out of your sprayer before putting it away.

It is very important to clean your sprayer thoroughly before storing, by making sure that there is no left over paint anywhere inside your gun.  Some manufacturers even suggest running anti rust and lubricants through your sprayer before storing for extended periods of time.  

For example, most airless sprayers will recommend an airless sprayer storage fluid which sits inside your sprayer while it’s in storage.  The fluid will lubricate and protect the valves and pump parts from corrosion and parts like gaskets and seals from drying out.

Can You Run Paint Thinner Through a Paint Sprayer?

YES!  Some mediums require you to use a paint sprayer cleaning solvent like paint thinner to remove all the paint from inside your sprayer.  Paint thinner is the best way to clean oil based paints and various types of lacquers and varnishes out of your paint sprayer gun.  Instead of running water through your sprayer, you would run paint thinner or a paint sprayer cleaning solvent through your gun until you’ve removed all the paint.  

Can You Spray Water Through a Paint Sprayer?

YES!  This is actually one of the ways to clean a paint sprayer.  Water is sprayed through your gun when you’ve used water based paints like latex.

How to Clean Dried Latex Paint from a Paint Sprayer

This can be a bit tricky.  Hopefully, your latex paint sprayer doesn’t get to this point.  But, sometimes, we might miss some paint when cleaning and only notice it later.  That’s fine.  How to clean dried latex paint from a paint sprayer might require more than water.  

First, you can try to soak the sprayer parts in water and/or run more water through your gun to soften up the dried paint.  Take apart your sprayer as much as you can to really get into the areas where dried latex paint might hide.  

If that doesn’t work you might want to try some paint thinner or some latex paint remover, which is made of different combination of alcohols to soften up the paint.  If you want to save some cash, you could try isopropyl rubbing alcohol, you might have that lying around your home already.

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How to Clean Paint Sprayer Tips

Most of them time, your paint sprayer will get clogged at the tip.  Paint tends to dry on sprayer tips fast.  Pay close attention to any downtown you take during your paint job and clean off your tip before you start spraying again. Clogs can cause your pumps to work overtime and burn out the motor on your sprayer.  

1 way to clean you sprayer tips is to use a paint sprayer cleaning solvent.  They are super easy to use and you can basically just wipe the paint right off your sprayer.

Some paint sprayers allow you to reverse the sprayer tip and blow air right through the nozzle.  This helps to clean the tip by using air to remove the first layer of paint.

Otherwise, you clean paint sprayer tips depending on the paint medium you used.  If you used water based paints, cleaning the tips with water right after you’re finished painting will remove the paint.  Using oil based paints, lacquers, and varnishes means using a paint sprayer cleaning solvent, paint thinner, or some other commercial solvent to wipe them down.

If something goes wrong during the cleaning process please contact your gun manufacturer.

For example, if you own a Graco, you can contact the Graco Authorized Service Center in your area.


Now that you know how to clean a paint sprayer gun and how to clean paint sprayer tips, all you have left is to master your painting skills!


Which is the best paint sprayer for my projects?

Check out our detailed post where we discuss the best spray guns on the market.