Yes, if the paint you are using is water-based, you can rinse the airbrush paint cup out using water.
- Put water into a paint cup;
- Swirl to thoroughly mix paint with water;
- Spray airbrush until empty;
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 until little paint remains;
- Use a moist rag to clean out the remaining paint;
- Use the same rag-clean airbrush needle if you have one;
You can use water to clean an airbrush using acrylic paints. Enamel and lacquer paints need to be cleaned with special thinners or an airbrush cleaning solution for your paint brand.
Sometimes the water is not enough to clean your paint or airbrush properly. Sometimes, this can be very bad for your paint or airbrush.
What Happens If I Use Water To Clean Non-Water-Based Paint
If you clean your airbrush using water after using paint that is not supposed to be mixed with water, the leftover paint can turn into a sludge that is hard to get rid of.
The sludge effect will vary depending on the brand and non-water-based paint you’ve been using.
Adding more water will not fix the problem or even worsen it.
If you have paint sludge in your airbrush, you should do the following:
- Use an airbrush cleaning brush to remove the paint.
- Use an airbrush cleaning fluid that effectively breaks down and flushes out the paint.
What Should I Use To Clean My Airbrush
There are four main ways to clean your airbrush:
- Water, but ONLY for water-based paints;
- Proprietary branded airbrush cleaning solution;
- Thinners specific to the paint you are using;
- General purpose thinners;
Cleaning Your Airbrush With Proprietary Airbrush Cleaning Solution
Many paint manufacturers make their own cleaning solutions for airbrushes. This is the best way to clean your airbrush after using their paints, but it can be a little expensive.
One example is an airbrush cleaning solution for the Tamiya brand of paints. This cleaning solution can be used with any type of paint that Tamiya offers, including acrylics, enamels, and lacquers.
Tamiya Airbrush Cleaner (250ml cleaning fluid)
However, if you don’t have an airbrush cleaner specifically designed for your brand of paint, or if you can’t find one, you can use a thinner that is specific to paint.
Cleaning Your Airbrush With Paint-Specific Thinners
If you have paint that comes with a special thinner, you can use the thinner to clean your airbrush.
The paint will thin perfectly with the specific brand-made thinners, making clean-up a breeze.
I don’t use a specific airbrush cleaning solution. I use the thinner that is specific for the paint I am using. However, if I can’t find that thinner, I will use the paint-specific thinners as my second choice.
Cleaning Your Airbrush With General Purpose Thinners
If you need to thin your paint for airbrushing, general-purpose thinners bought from a hardware store or an automotive store will not always be the best choice. In fact, they can often be used to clean paint out of your airbrush.
I use general-purpose thinners to clean my airbrush because it is effective and affordable:
- It easily loosens, mixes, and disperses all types of paint, from acrylics to enamels to lacquers;
- It’s cheap;
You can save money using general-purpose thinners rather than special airbrush cleaners or paint thinners. However, you will use it up more quickly, so it is only worth it if you go through a lot.
If I have gotten paint on my airbrush for any reason, general-purpose thinners will easily clean it off. I can also use an airbrush cleaning brush to help get the paint out.
Can I Clean My Airbrush With Acetone
Yes, acetone can be used to clean paint from an airbrush. However, it is also a strong solvent that can damage chrome and rubber parts inside the airbrush.
If you don’t have anything else to clean your airbrush with, you can use it while the paint is still wet. However, if you can avoid it, don’t use acetone to clean your airbrush.
Can I Clean My Airbrush With Ammonia
Yes, ammonia can be used to clean water-based paints. But you should avoid using it on things like chrome and brass because it will damage them.
Ammonia and acetone can both cause chrome to flake over time. They might also cause a green substance to build up on the brass parts of an airbrush.
Can I Use Windex To Clean An Airbrush
Yes, Windex and other window cleaners sometimes have ammonia in them. This can be used as a cleaner for acrylic paints, but over time the ammonia may damage the chrome and brass on an airbrush, making it unusable.
If you are using products for airbrushing, be sure to check the label first. This will tell you what to avoid.
These products have a small amount of ammonia in them. But using them is not worth the risk when better and equally affordable options are available.
Can I Clean My Airbrush With Isopropyl Alcohol
IPA, or isopropyl alcohol, can be a good choice for cleaning your airbrush because it will remove paint effectively without damaging rubber o-rings or chrome plating.
Some paints may not work well when mixed with milk. The paint may be a little clumpy or sludgy. But for many paints, it will work just fine.
At the end of the day, isopropyl alcohol would not be my first choice to clean an airbrush.
Final Recommendations On Cleaning Your Airbrush With Water
Water is not the best cleaner for airbrushes because it only works on water-based paints. It might make other types of paint sticky and hard to remove.
There are many different airbrush cleaning solutions, but my favorite is general-purpose thinners because they are very effective and affordable.
My final recommendation is to avoid water for cleaning and try some general-purpose thinners. I promise you’ll be happy with the results!
Yes, you can use water to clean an airbrush. But you have to be careful! You need to ensure the water is not too hot and you do not get the water in the airbrush gun.