Cleaning Dried Latex Paint From a Paint Sprayer: A Step by Step Guide
This generic guide covers both airless and HVLP units. To avoid invalidating your sprayer’s warranty, be sure to check the individual manufacturer’s guidelines too.
What You Need to Follow This Tutorial
Get everything together before you start so that you’re well prepared.
Regardless of the type of sprayer you’re using, safety is paramount. Make sure that your spray gun is disconnected from the power source before dismantling to prevent electric shocks.
Even though you’re not actively spraying, you’re still working with paint so guard yourself by wearing full protective gear throughout the process. Lay down a drop cloth to protect your workshop floor or garden (if working outdoors).
This tutorial focuses on cleaning the sprayer with water and a soft brush. Latex is a water-based formula and water is all you need. However, if you do come across an especially stubborn piece, apply a very small amount of mineral spirits to the area with a cloth and rub gently.
Try to avoid doing this though as harsh chemicals can cause tubing and gaskets to wear out faster than normal. Additionally, if you do use solvent, thoroughly rinse the area with plain water afterwards.
1. You won’t get far if you don’t start at the business end because you’ll use it to flush the rest of the system. The fluid nozzle usually contains the smallest orifice on the machine and is a great place for dried latex to hide. Start off by wetting the tip with the garden hose.
2. Take the soft brush and gently remove any coating that you see. Switching between the hose and the brush should let you see your progress.
3. Once the exterior of the nozzle is clean, peek inside and see if you notice any trapped paint flakes. If you do, take your pliers and carefully remove the larger pieces.
4. Be sure to dispose of any leftover paint or wastewater responsibly.
Step 2: Clean the Filters
1. If your paint sprayer has a removable filter (many HVLP units won’t) remove it carefully.
2. You likely find that the filter has the most dried paint in the entire spray gun because all the viscous fluid passes through the filter before being atomized at the nozzle. This makes the filter the hardest component to clean. Grab your garden hose again and rinse the filter to remove any latex paint that’s still wet.
3. Keep flushing the filter with water until the liquid passes with no resistance. Note that you may need to soak your filter in water to aid this process.
4. Once you’re sure the filter is clean, put it back in the sprayer.
1. With the key components free from clogs, it’s time to flush the sprayer’s internals with water.
If using an HVLP device with a paint cup, fill the paint container with water and set the machine to spray into the waste pail. If the container nears empty and the liquid expelled is still not running clear, repeat the process until it does.
For airless units, fill one pail with clean water and use the other pail as a waste receptacle. Place the flexible uptake tube in the water and set the machine to prime for a couple of minutes so the liquid circulates through the device.
2. Once you’re satisfied it has cycled a few times, set the gun to spray and evacuate the fluid into the waste bucket. Inspect the liquid to see if it ran clear. If not, repeat step one methodically until it does.
Step 4: Inlet Strainer Cleaning
1. More commonly found on airless sprayers (although you will occasionally see them on HVLPs with flexible uptake tubes), inlet strainers are another kind of filter that need attention.
Situated at the base of the uptake hose, inlet strainers eliminate any debris in the paint. Hopefully, the thorough rinse from step three removed most of the dried paint. However, if some remains, gently scrape it away with the brush and rinse again with the garden hose so dried flakes are not drawn into the system again.
Step 5: Final Test, Wipe Down, and Storage
1. By the time you get to this step, you can be fairly certain that your paint sprayer is spick-and-span. However, it’s wise to double-check just in case some flakes have worked their way back into the system.
Run more water through the unit once again, either by filling the paint cup or by placing the flexible uptake tube in a pail of water.
2. Once there’s no more dried latex in your sprayer, it’s time to give the exterior a little TLC. Dampen a cloth with water and give the exterior casing and hose (if present) a wipe down.
This is also a good opportunity to check for any wear and tear on the outside of the machine.
3. After the machine is completely clean, allow it to air dry before storing it away to prevent any mold from forming.