How To Clean Spray Paint Nozzle


Last updated: April 20, 2023

Get the tips and hacks of cleaning your spray paint nozzle in this comprehensive guide.

How to clean spray paint nozzle

Spray painting can be a fun, easy way to transform a surface with a good finish. But it can be frustrating if the spray paint nozzle becomes faulty or produces poor finishes due to clogging.

This normally happens when the spray can is used for long periods without regular cleaning and maintenance. 

If you encounter this problem, you might be interested in knowing how to clean a spray paint nozzle.  In this post, we highlight a few steps for cleaning spray paint nozzles. Let’s dive in. 

How to Clean Spray Paint Nozzles

You can try out a few quick tips to fix a clogged nozzle, such as disassembling the nozzle and soaking it in paint thinner, vinegar, or mineral spirits. Let it sit for an hour or two, thoroughly rinse it with water, then wipe it dry. If it still has softened paint residues after this, apply aerosol lubricant, then use a safety pin or sewing needle to gently remove the soft paint residues, taking care not to distort or enlarge the tube.

Why Clean Spray Paint Nozzles?

There are several scenarios where cleaning spray paint nozzles would be necessary. The common scenario is spray paint can nozzle getting clogged up with thick paint rendering it unusable. Other instances are corrosion and filler buildup.  Let’s examine these scenarios better.

  • Clogging: Clogging usually results from using thick spray paint or using the sprayer for too long. When this happens, paint residues accumulate on the spray paint nozzle tip. This can lower the pressure and block the flow. You’ll need to disassemble the spray paint can to unclog the nozzle, clean it thoroughly, and assemble it again to restore its functionality.

  • Corrosion: Sometimes, your spray paint nozzle can get corroded as a result of the contents in the spray paint and the environment or prevailing weather conditions. That’s why it’s best to select a suitable nozzle material compatible with most liquids. For example, titanium nozzles work best with most solvents like bleach. Otherwise, a corroded nozzle will need thorough scraping and cleaning to revive it. 

  • Filler Build-up: Build-up fillers can significantly affect the spray nozzle orifice. The clogged nozzle will develop poor spray patterns, increased pressure, and reduced flow.

How Do You Clean Spray Paint Nozzles?

You can clean a spray paint nozzle in multiple ways. These methods can be as basic as using warm water or cleaning with vinegar. They can even be as intense as soaking in paint thinners, using WD-40, aerosol lubricant, mineral spirits, or a spray gun cleaner. Let’s review each of these methods to help you choose the best.

1. Use Warm Water

A clogged spray paint nozzle can be frustrating. If you don’t know what to do, you may damage the nozzle while trying to fix the problem, or you may decide to replace it altogether. 

But before you take extreme measures to clean your clogged nozzle, try the most basic methods, like cleaning it with warm water. To do this, take a clean rag and dampen it in clean water. 

Next, use the rag to wipe the softened paint off the nozzle until it’s clear of paint. You can use a needle or toothpick to remove any paint residues, but you should take care not to damage the spray system. 

Note that this method works best with wet or softened paint. If the paint has dried, consider a more rigorous approach to prevent spray paint nozzles from blocking, as shown in step two. 

2. Soak in Paint Thinner

Paint thinner is an excellent solution for stubborn paint on any surface. Instead of going to great lengths to unblock your faulty nozzle, a paint thinner could be all you need to solve the problem completely.

For this step, you must first remove the dirty nozzle from the spray can. Don’t worry, you can easily do this without any tools. Just twist the nozzle gently, like a bottle top, to loosen it from the can. Then, add a specific amount of paint thinner into a bowl and soak the nozzle.

While at it, ensure that you wear safety gloves and a face mask when handling paint thinners.   

Leave the nozzle to soak in the paint thinner for at least two hours, then remove and rinse with water. If the paint thinner fails to remove all the dry paint, move to the next step.

3. Use WD-40

Where paint thinners fail, WD-40 can be an excellent alternative for unclogging a spray paint nozzle. This step is relatively straightforward. All you have to do is spray the WD-40 directly into the nozzle to loosen up any dried bits of paint that may be blocking the opening. 

Once all the paint has come off, use a damp cloth to clean any traces of paint on the nozzle and let it dry. You can reattach it to the spray can afterward and test it on a piece of paper. Otherwise, try out other methods in case none of these proves successful. 

4. Apply Aerosol Lubricant on the Nozzle

Aerosol lubricant is another effective method of dealing with stubborn paint on a spray paint nozzle. You can apply the aerosol lubricant to the nozzle opening or the entire nozzle. Wait for a few minutes, then spray it a second time. 

This method works almost instantly and will solve the clogging issue quickly. 

5. Cleaning Spray Paint Nozzles with Mineral Spirits 

Mineral spirits is a proven technique for removing unwanted paint on a surface. If you have problems with your spray paint nozzle, use mineral spirits to unblock it immediately. For this method, you’ll have to disassemble the spray gun, remove the nozzle, and soak it in mineral spirits for a few minutes.

Once the nozzle has soaked for a few minutes, remove it from the container and gently brush it with an old toothbrush to eliminate any remaining softened paint. The brush should be soft enough so you don’t damage the nozzle. 

As a last step, use clean water to rinse the nozzle thoroughly, then carefully reassemble the spray gun. Now, go ahead and test it out to ensure it’s working perfectly. 

Note: While using this method, you should always wear hand gloves and a face mask to protect yourself from the toxic fumes emitting from mineral spirits. 

How to Use a Spray Gun Cleaner to Clean Spray Paint Nozzle?

If you’re still keen on trying other methods to clean your spray paint nozzle, a spray gun cleaner can come in handy. This tool works by quickly dissolving and removing stubborn paint buildup. 

Start by wearing protective gear like gloves, masks, and goggles. Next, follow the instructions on the label to mix the spray gun cleaner. You can now remove the spray nozzle from the can and soak it in a bowl containing spray gun cleaner. 

Allow it to sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a soft bristle brush to remove excess paint residues, then rinse with clean water. This method is similar to mineral spirits; the products used are different, but the process and outcome are nearly the same. 

Reassemble the nozzle after rinsing and drying, then test its performance before resuming your project. 

How to Clean Spray Paint Nozzles with an Ultrasonic Cleaner?

Our final step on how to clean a blocked spray paint nozzle involves using an ultrasonic cleaner. Always ensure you work in a well-ventilated area when using an ultrasonic cleaner or any other solvent listed in this guide. You should also ensure that you’re protected throughout each process. 

Again with this approach, the nozzle must be detached from the can before it can be cleaned. Add some water mixed with a cleaning solution that works specifically with ultrasonic cleaners, then pour it into the ultrasonic cleaner and soak the nozzle in the mixture. 

Ensure that the nozzle is completely submerged in the mixture, then turn on the ultrasonic cleaner, allowing it to run for the time specified by the manufacturer. This should take a few minutes. 

 Next, remove the nozzle, rinse with clean water, and dry it with a piece of cloth before reattaching it to the spray gun. After these steps, your spray paint nozzle should be in a better working condition. 

How Do You Clean a Clogged Spray Paint Tip?

If you’ve used spray paint for some time, you will attest that spray paint nozzle tips tend to get clogged occasionally. While this is a normal occurrence, it can be frustrating. 

The problem can stem from various reasons, including not shaking the can thoroughly before use, using an old spray paint can for your paint job, or not cleaning the can after use. But this is a minor problem that you can quickly fix with quick, easy steps as outlined below:

  • Detach the spray paint nozzle tip from the spray can or nozzle so you can clean it more efficiently and thoroughly. 

  • Use a paper towel to wipe the spray paint tip and remove the excess dirt and debris. 

  • Soak the tip of the can in a container of mineral spirits or paint thinner. Leave it for a few minutes until all the paint has dissolved.

  • Shake the spray can thoroughly to loosen shy clogged paint inside the can. 

  • Remove the tip from the solvent, wipe it with paper towels, and reattach it to the can. 

  • Test the spray tip by applying paint on cardboard. Repeat the process if the clogging persists until you achieve the desired results.

How to Clean a Clogged Spray Paint Nozzle?

Cleaning a clogged spray paint nozzle may look daunting, but it’s easy once you understand the different options. Here’s how to fix this problem easily and with minimal effort:

  1. Rinse the nozzle with running water. This step is as simple as turning the tap on and letting the running water flush off the paint residue from the nozzle. 

  2. Soak in a solvent. Another easy method involves paint thinners, mineral spirits, vinegar, or spray gun cleaner. Soak the nozzle in the solvent and let it sit until the paint is dissolved. 

  3. Utilize special cleaning tools: Take advantage of the many special tools for cleaning clogged nozzles to get the job done professionally. 

  4. Use a toothbrush: When you need to scrub the excess dirt and paint debris inside the nozzle, a toothbrush comes in handy so long as you are careful not to damage the nozzle completely. 

How Do You Fix a Spitting Spray Paint Nozzle?

Like clogging, a spitting spray paint nozzle can be fixed easily if you know what to do. Below are some helpful tips you can follow to solve the problem real quick.

  • Spitting is usually caused by high pressure inside the can. Check if the pressure is high, then vigorously shake the can to release the excess pressure. 

  • Clogging can also cause your nozzle to spit out paint when in use. Follow the steps to clean a blocked nozzle outlined in this guide and get the problem out of the way.  

  • If your nozzle is not correctly adjusted on the spray can, it could be the reason it’s spitting and not working correctly. Adjust it to the correct position, then spray-test it on cardboard. Keep adjusting and testing until you achieve the desired spray pattern. 

  • Prime your surface: Priming your surface helps prevent spitting and maintains consistency, so always use a primer when spray painting.

FAQs – How To Clean Spray Paint Nozzles?

Why does my spray paint keep getting clogged?

A few issues can cause your spray paint to get clogged. If you fail to shake the aerosol can to mix up the contents or use damaged spray cans and aerosol nozzles, clogging is inevitable.

But you can use different techniques to solve clogging issues. Paint thinners, mineral spirits, vinegar, warm water, aerosol lubricants, and special nozzle cleaning tools are some of the recommended options you can try. 

What do you soak spray paint tips in?

Any solvent that easily dissolves or softens paint can be used to soak up clogged nozzles. Paint thinners, vinegar, and mineral spirits are good examples. Add the solvent of your choice in a container, then soak the nozzle for several minutes until the blog is loosened. When handling such toxic chemicals, always wear protective gear. 

How do you clean a paint sprayer tip with dried paint?

Start by scraping off the dried paint using a scrapper or putty knife. Be careful not to scratch too hard, or you’ll damage the nozzle.

From there, use a solvent like Goof off or mineral spirits to remove any stubborn paint on the nozzle. You can also dip a toothbrush in paint thinner and scrub the inside of the nozzle for a more thorough cleaning. 

What Chemical do you use to clean a paint sprayer?

Household rubbing alcohol is a good solution for cleaning stuck-on paint on your sprayer. Acetone, WD-40, vinegar, and mineral spirits are other effective solutions. Some of these may work better than others, so consider trying different methods until you find one that works best. 

What Causes an aerosol can not to spray?

A clogged nozzle is the most apparent catalyst, followed by thick or expired paint. In some cases, your sprayer may be broken or damaged. A few essential solutions to this problem include spraying hot water into the can and using a safety pin to poke through the nozzle to release debris build-up. 

How do you fix a broken spray can nozzle?

A broken can nozzle will mainly require an actuator replacement. If you have an extra spray can tip that’s the correct size of your broken can, consider making a switch. Otherwise, remove the tip of your can and take it to your local hardware store for an actuator replacement.

Content Summary – Cleaning Spray Paint Nozzles

A clogged spray paint nozzle may seem like the end of your spray painting project, especially if you don’t know how to clean it or fix similar clogging issues. However, at the beginning of this article, we promised we’d help you solve the problem in various easy steps. 

We hope this post answers your question regarding clogging spray paint nozzles. Next time you encounter such problems, refer to the steps outlined in this guide to clean up your blocked sprayer and continue your project stress-free. 

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