Home » HVLP Guides & Tips » Cleaning Paint Sprayers

Owning an HVLP spray gun can certainly make painting projects go much faster. The performance of your spray gun can heavily depend on keeping all of the parts, inside and out, clean after each color or material.

HVLP Spray Gun Cleaning Tools

There are several options of cleaners available to make sure everything keeps running smoothly. The life of your spray painter will depend on how well you clean the spray gun.

If you clean it well, you can expect a good long time that you will have it’s availability for projects. If on the flip side you don’t take this part too seriously you will find it’s effectiveness will disappear very rapidly.

A Cleaning Plan

If properly taken care of, your tool will work efficiently and last longer as I have just mentioned. If you use your spray gun frequently you should use a stronger paint gun cleaner solvent at least once a week and do a thorough cleaning.

I am going to tell you how to clean your spray gun and which cleaner and solvents to use depending on what kind of paint or material you were using for your project. Always make sure to have and use the proper safety equipment including eye protection, latex gloves and something to cover your clothes when working with any paints or chemicals. Here are your best cleaning options.

So ask yourself this question. Which type of spray gun cleaner is right for you?

pH-Neutral Cleaning Solutions vs. Solvent-Containing Solutions

Neutral Cleaners

If you are using water-based paint in your paint gun, you will want to only use pH-neutral cleaning solutions. This can have it’s advantages but also some disadvantages. A pH level of about 7 is considered neutral. First here are the advantages of neutral cleaning.

Advantages

  • Since it has a neutral ph, short term skin contact will not harm skin.
  • Adverse health effects are less likely.
  • Safer for the environment.

Consider these three advantages, and now take a look at the negative side of neutral cleaning.

Disadvantages

  • Does not work on certain kinds of material or staining due to low acidity.
  • Having low acidity hinders the effectiveness of the product.

Solvent-Based Cleaners

Now your second option is using solvent based cleaners. These cleaners are more readily available and easy to access. But as with the first choice, please weigh up the pluses and the minuses for this type of cleaning.

If you are using solvent-based paints you will need to use clean paint thinner or a solvent-containing cleaning solution. These products are flammable so do not store them near an open flame, sitting in the sun, etc,. They can be highly combustible so be very wary of your storage location.

Solvent based cleaners will have a pH somewhere between 0 and 6. Always use latex gloves, as the acidity of the chemicals will burn your skin if it comes in contact with it. Treat these cleaning solvents with kid gloves.

Advantages

  • Gets the job done quicker.
  • Use less of product.

Disadvantages

  • Can harm skin from contact.
  • Harmful to the environment.
  • Can have adverse health effects if proper precautions are not taken.

Here are some simple directions for cleaning your spray gun. First you will need to flush out the drain hose and gun hose for a few minutes. Probably 3 to 4 minutes should do it, using the solvent cleaner you have chosen.

Repeat the process again using some new solvent. You may need up to a gallon of solvent in cleaning your spray paint gun this way. Please take your time and be meticulous with your efforts.

It would then be a great idea to store your gun kit with some mineral spirits loaded in the gun. This will keep the insides nice and loose. Very clean as well. Your gun will be readily for use the next time you need it.

Be prepared to take your time when cleaning, as the job can last up to an hour, including reassembly. But it all pays off in the long run, as you’ll get much more wear out of your spray gun.

There are 4 Parts To Clean

You need to carefully clean the following list of parts to you gun kit. They are the cap, the nozzle plate, the springs and the fluid needle. Carefully disassemble these parts as you will need to be cleaning all 4 in their own fashion.

  1. Cap

    To start cleaning the HVLP spray gun, remove the cap. Turn it counter clockwise and take it off the nozzle of the spray gun. Then remove the nozzle by twisting it away from the spray gun.

    These two parts will need to be soaked using paint thinner in a bowl type of container. You need to soak both of these parts for a few minutes, maybe as many as 15-20 minutes.

    A great suggestion here is to use an old tooth brush as your scrubber. This will clear out any trapped paint. Sit the cap and nozzle on a rag to allow them to dry fully.

  2. Nozzle Plate

    There’s a metal plate behind the nozzle of the HVLP spray gun. This needs to re removed. You may find that this isn’t easily done as the plate maybe stuck by paint.

    Carefully remove the plate. Then it will also need to be soaked for up to 20 minutes. Scrub judiciously with a small brush. Then dry by sitting it on an old cloth as well.

  3. Springs

    The next step is to take off the fluid adjuster from the back of the gun; it’s on the lower ring, and should screw off easily. This as you know by now will be to be soaked as well.

    Once you’ve removed the fluid adjuster, you’ll find the guide for the fluid adjuster and the spring for the air valve. Turn the guide counter clockwise once you’ve pulled the spring out of the gun.

    You will find the fluid needle here so remove it carefully. So both of these parts will need to be soaked in thinner, then scrubbed carefully (probably do this with a soft cloth) and laid out to dry.

  4. Fluid Needle

    Pulling out the fluid needle is a very delicate operation. Pull it out very carefully.

    Removing the fluid needle spring gives you access to the fluid needle itself. The needle part comes at then end of a piece of metal, and the back of the needle will be close to you with the spring out of the way.

    If you push on the trigger of the HVLP spray gun, enough of the needle will appear for you to grab it with a pair of tweezers. Wipe it clean with the rag soaked in thinner before setting it aside to dry.

    After all of this a probably an hour or more, it should be all right to re-assemble the spray paint gun. There is one more alternative you might want to consider. But you would need to purchase a paint gun cleaning machine.

Paint Gun Cleaning Machine | An Expensive Alternative

The fastest and most efficient way to clean your HVLP spray gun is with a paint gun cleaning machine. You can always clean your gun by hand, but it is very time consuming and you may not be able to get into all of the small cracks and crevices to remove the material.

If you are serious about painting or have several jobs to do, getting one of these machines will save you time and money in the long run. They also reduce waste by up to 50%.