If you think that the spray nozzle is choking and is not dispensing the paint properly, then it is a sure-shot sign it needs cleaning!
Some folks think that the airless paint sprayer only needs cleaning once or twice a month, but that’s not true. So, is it necessary to clean an airless paint sprayer after every use? Well, yes!
The sprayer needs cleaning after every job before the paint dries out quickly, and results in a stubborn chunk that’ll restrict the flow of paint.
But how to clean an airless paint sprayer? Well, the cleaning method varies based on the paint type you are using and the last time you cleaned the sprayer.
Read the guide to learn different methods to clean the sprayer thoroughly, and start spraying with it again.
First Things First
Before I hop on the steps to clean the paint sprayer, it is essential to understand the paint sprayer and its components.
An airless paint sprayer has made painting a breeze. Now you can complete a 2-day job under 4 hours, provided you have a properly working and clean sprayer.
Keep the Instruction Manual Handy
Troubles are inevitable, especially when cleaning an airless paint sprayer since most people don’t know about all the components it has. So, keeping an instruction manual handy will be a huge help.
You’ll find the correct steps to disassemble and assemble the paint sprayer in the manual.
Don’t Forget to Wear the Protective Gear
Cleaning an airless paint sprayer involves using liquids like thinner, which can cause inflammation, or you may feel a burning sensation on the skin. So
Ensure wearing protective gear such as nitrile gloves and protective goggles to ensure eye and face protection.
Understand the Working of Every Component of the Sprayer
Before you start disassembling the sprayer components, understand the working of every component to be sure about what you are doing.
Not understanding the components can ruin the gun’s performance completely, and buying a new one will cost you a lot of money.
Cleaning Supplies You Need Close at Hand
You will find most of these cleaning supplies around the house, so gather them in one place, and then start with cleaning the sprayer.
Here are the following items you need:
- A bucket full of water
- Mineral spirits such as alcohol or thinner
- Cleaning cloth or rag
- Waste pail
- A soft-bristled brush
So, you have mustered all the cleaning supplies? Great, now follow the below-mentioned steps to clean your airless paint spraying gun.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Clean Airless Paint Sprayer
Can you follow the same cleaning steps for all types of paints? No! But there are a few common rituals that you need to perform irrespective of the type of paint you’ve sprayed with the airless paint spraying gun.
Here are the steps you need to follow to get the sprayer ready for cleaning:
Release the Air Pressure
Releasing the air pressure is necessary before you disassemble the gun from the hose or the pipe. Turn off the paint sprayer, and engage the trigger to empty the entire pressure built-up inside the sprayer.
When you turn the prime valve to the drain position, the paint sprayer nozzle will start dispensing the paint it contains, so make sure to point it toward a waste bucket. Once the pressure meter needle points to zero, you can start with other cleaning steps.
Flush Out the Coatings
Merely engaging the trigger won’t flush the entire paint out of the sprayer, so you need to do that manually. Furthermore, the process of flushing out the paint depends on the type of paint or coating used for spray painting.
Below, I’ve listed some ways expert airless paint sprayers use to flush out different paints. Before I explain to you the cleaning steps, it is indispensable to understand why cleaning the sprayer after every use is recommended.
Well, leaving the paint or coating inside the sprayer overnight can ruin the filters completely. Also, it has a significant impact on the pump, so in order to protect your investment, you should clean the coatings after every use.
Unscrew the tip and the tip guard from the spray gun before you start flushing out the paint. Furthermore, remove the drain tube safely so that the paint inside the tube doesn’t spill in your garage or wherever you are cleaning the paint sprayer.
After that, follow the below-mentioned steps to clean the sprayer properly.
Latex Paint and Primer
You need the following items to clean latex paint and primer from an airless paint spray.
- A rag or cleaning cloth
- A bucket full of warm water
Add a little bit of ammonia to a bucket with five gallons of warm water. Now put the airless paint-spraying gun inside the solution.
Ammonia is effective against latex paint, and the particles break down quickly. Scrutinize the sprayer and look for any paint residues sticking inside it, and remove them manually using an old rag.
Oil Paint and Primer
Water doesn’t work well when cleaning oil paint and primer, so you need to replace it with a spirit solution, including thinner.
Dip the airless paint-spraying gun inside a bucket with some thinner, and leave it for some time. The thinner loosens the oil paint, and thus you can clean the sprayer easily.
Alcohol-based Shellac Primer or BIN
Cleaning the BIN from a sprayer can be pretty tricky. Most experts recommend using denatured alcohol as it works better when it comes to removing the shellac primer.
I even used cheap ammonia to clean BIN, and it worked as expected. Want to save money? Consider using cheap ammonia bottles instead of denatured alcohol.
Note: Make sure to wear protective gear when using ammonia or denatured alcohol to protect your skin from any exposures.
Clean the Pump
Before you start cleaning the spray gun, it is essential to clean the pump so that there is no paint left in it.
Follow these steps to clean the pump thoroughly:
- Move the spray gun toward the waste pail.
- Engage the trigger and cycle the pump by turning the on/off switch to on
- Turn the prime valve, and you will see the paint coming out of the spray gun.
- Let the paint come out until you see clear liquid flowing out without any contamination.
- Turn the switch off.
Clean the Gun and the Hose
Some folks clean the gun before cleaning the pump, which is not the right step. You should always clean the gun, and the hose after the pump starts dispensing clear liquid without any contamination.
To clean the spray gun, switch the prime valve to the spraying position and then turn the machine on. Position the gun towards the waste pail, and press the trigger. Keep the trigger engaged until the entire pressure from the pump gets released.
Now disconnect the power, and pay attention to other components that need cleaning too.
Have you flushed the coatings out of the spraying gun properly following the steps mentioned above? But what about the spraying tip? The spraying tip needs your attention right away as it can severely impact the flow of paint oozing out of the sprayer.
To clean the spraying tip, screw it back on the cleaned airless sprayer. Now put the tip in the reverse position, and turn up the pressure.
After that, engage the trigger and let the spray tip eliminate all the paint residual stuck inside it.
You should clean the spray tip after every use since the residual paint can make it unusable.
Clean the Spray Filters
Cleaning the spray filters is essential to prolong the life of your airless paint sprayer. Just running water through the filters will clean them only a little, so you need to follow a different approach to clean them properly.
An uncleaned filter can hinder the performance of the airless spray gun, and I hope you don’t want that to happen. You need to clean the pencil gun, manifold, and suction filter.
Take these filters out from the airless spray gun, and place them in a bucket full of water or cleaning solution. If you don’t know how to remove the filters, here’s a video that’ll help.
An unclean pencil filter looks something like this:
Put gloves on, and then start cleaning the filters manually.
If you see any stubborn bits on the filters, clean them using a soft-bristled brush. Still not able to clean the filter? Buy a pack of new filters if you want excellent performance from the airless paint sprayer.
Video Guide for Popular Models
Graco Magnum X5 -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9kZkFJubZE
Graco magnum X7 -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9kZkFJubZE
Wagner Control Pro 350M -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6Z6L8y7K-o
Wagner Control pro 250M -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqCVlIzVhSs
Wagner Control pro 150M -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5C2ZVcQzI4
Wagner Control Pro 250R & 350R -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cP8zEzBtSU
Krause and Becker 5/7HP 3000Psi -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glbPDG1wzsY
Now the airless paint sprayer is ready for storage or for the next job. But how do you store the sprayer properly so that it’s ready for use whenever you want to spray paint on something?
Storing an air sprayer isn’t just putting it inside the cabinet; you need to follow a handful of steps to get it ready for storage.
Here’s how I store my airless paint sprayer:
Storage for less than a day
If you want to store the sprayer for less than a day or you have some plans to use it tomorrow, then the storing method is described below:
- Put the drain tube in the paint can
- Now cover the can properly, and wrap it up with some plastic to get an airtight seal.
- Engage the gun trigger to release the pressure from the sprayer.
- Put the spray gun in a bucket full of water so the paint inside it doesn’t dry overnight.
- Lastly, make sure to fasten a plastic bag around the intel tube to avoid dripping paint.
Storage for 1-3 Months
- Pull the gun trigger to relieve the entire pressure.
- Put the suction tube in any protective liquid or Pump Armor.
- Put the prime tube in a bucket.
- Toggle the spray valve to prime
- Switch the pressure setting to the lowest
- Now make sure that the sprayer has sucked the protective liquid or the Pump Armor
- Seal the entire airless paint sprayer system properly so that there is no corrosion at all
More than 6 Months
If you want to store the airless paint sprayer for more than six months, then follow all the above-mentioned steps one by one. Add 30wt oil to the protective liquid or the paint sprayer before filling it inside the sprayer.
Apply some TSL (throat seal liquid) and put the rod in the down position. Wrap some plastic cover around the tube to prevent the paint from dripping.
Water Vs. Thinner: What Cleans the Sprayer Better?
There is always a lot of confusion between water and thinner when it comes to cleaning an airless paint sprayer. Well, both of them work great, but not in every situation.
The answer is really simple, you should use water for cleaning water-based paints, but if you are using oil-based materials, say latex, you should use thinner.
Avoid using the wrong solvent for cleaning the air sprayer because it can result in internal corrosion.
With this easy guide, you can quickly clean the airless paint sprayer, and it’ll function like a new one. Furthermore, consistent cleaning and maintenance are essential to ensure that the sprayer lasts longer and gives you a perfectly finished coat of everything you spray with it.
Lastly, wear protective gear while dealing with chemicals like spirits because their exposure can be harmful to the skin.
You can use a number of things to clean airless spray paints. But it is important to wipe the sprayer hose and its gun and other small material with pressure wash water to get it cleared up faster
Yes, you can. It also depends on the type of paint sprayer you are using but in most cases, like 99% of the cases, it is possible to use water to clean through the hoses.
Yes, it is possible, but I wouldn’t recommend you use that. It is far better to use water than any other substance