Airbrush Cleaning Frequently Asked Questions
The following is a series of tips and general advice for cleaning your airbrush
Cleaning During Colour Changing
We would recommend filling the cup with water or the appropriate airbrush cleaner and then use a stiff bristle brush to mix the fluid and paint together before spraying out the airbrush or pouring the fluid out the cup. Refill the gravity cup with the appropriate airbrush cleaner and spray through until the flow/spray pattern runs clear. We recommend spraying through airbrush cleaner at a higher pressure to help remove paint pigments from inside the nozzle (40-50 PSI).
With suction/bottom feed airbrushes we recommend following the same procedure as above. Have two suction feed bottle available, one filled with water and the other with the appropriate airbrush cleaner for the brand/type of paint you are spraying. Simply use the water first to remove the bulk of the residue paint from the airbrush and spray through the suction bottle with a suitable airbrush cleaner at high pressure until your spray pattern runs clear. Then use airbrush cleaning brushes or Q Tips to remove any residue paint from the suction connector on the airbrush body.
We also recommend backward flushing while cleaning your airbrush. Backward flushing is an important part of airbrush cleaning and maintenance. This procedure helps remove stubborn paint pigments from inside the airbrush nozzle. Simply cover the needle cap at front of the airbrush, this blocks the air flow and allows back flushing to be achieved. Many airbrushes from Harder & Steenbeck and other brands come with ventilated or open air cap guards making backward flushing difficult. This nozzle cap makes that task simple and easy
If you are using Solvent Based Airbrush Cleaners then please be aware that only Branded Airbrushes will have PTFE washers. Using solvent based airbrush cleaners on cheaper unbranded airbrushes can affect the rubber o-rings which will result in internal air leaks inside the airbrush body.
Cleaning After Use
When you have finishing airbrushing we would recommend a more complete clean of your equipment to ensure your airbrush is kept paint free and in tip-top condition. This is a more involved cleaning of the airbrush but is similar to the cleaning techniques described above. We recommend the following is done immediately after you have finished airbrushing as the residue paint in the airbrush will still be wet and easy to remove. If the paint is left in the airbrush too long and starts to cure then these techniques may not clean your airbrush completely and the paint may only be removed by soaking the nozzle/airbrush in airbrush cleaner or solvents.
- Firstly following the cleaning techniques described in the Cleaning During Colour Changing section above.
- Unscrew and remove the airbrush handle
- Loosen the needle locking/chuck nut and draw the needle back until you can see the tip in the gravity cup/suction connection
- Unscrew the air cap and needle cap/guard and clean with internally and externally with a Q Tip soaked in airbrush cleaner
- Harder & Steenbeck airbrushes have a free floating nozzle that can easily be removed when you unscrew the air cap.
- Many unbranded airbrushes and brands like Iwata have screw in nozzle systems that have to be removed with a nozzle spanner.
- Soak the airbrush nozzle in the appropriate airbrush cleaner. The use of an Ultrasonic Cleaner is recommended for this purpose.
- Push the needle forward and remove from the front of the airbrush. Take care to avoid damaging the tip of the needle.
- Wipe residue paint from the needle with a cloth dampened with airbrush cleaner and coat with a few drop of airbrush lube.
- Insert the needle back into the airbrush body from the front and pull back until the needle tip can be seen in the gravity cup or suction feed connector.
- Refit the needle locking nut but do not tighten
- Refit the nozzle, air cap and needle cap to the front of the airbrush body. Take care with screw in nozzle systems as not the over tighten which can damage or break the nozzle.
- Gently slide the needle forward until you feel resistance (when the needle meets the nozzle) & tighten the needle locking nut. Take care not to force or push the needle too far forward as this can split/damage the nozzle.
- Reconnect the airbrush to your air supply and then blow any remaining fluid through the brush.
Following the procedures above will ensure that your airbrush is fully cleaned to provide years of trouble free airbrushing.
Please Note: Never immerse the air valve assembly in solvent as all airbrush air valves contain at least one rubber o-ring