Paint sprayers can turn a lengthy paint job into a quick, no-fuss task. While paint sprayers are easy to use, they do require basic maintenance and care to keep it working correctly.
In this guide, learn how to clean dried latex paint from your paint sprayer, why it’s important, and the answers to other frequently asked questions.
If latex paint has only recently dried in a paint sprayer, you’ll have an easier time cleaning it than if it’s sat for a long time.
Likewise, if you’ve kept up with maintenance regularly before that, removing dried paint is simpler than if several applications have dried and built up on any parts.
Whether fresh or old, the challenge will be removing all of the paint completely without damaging your sprayer. With the right materials and tools, you can get your home latex paint sprayer working again.
How To Clean Dried Latex From Spray Guns
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, you can safely and properly clean the dried paint from your paint sprayer using this step-by-step guide.
1. Remove the nozzle
This step is done first so that you can later run water through the entire sprayer, saving yourself a lot of trouble trying to manually remove paint that could otherwise wash away.
First, take the tip off the sprayer. Clean the tip and the hole it slides into with your brush. Rinsing with the garden hose might help, too.
If needed, gently remove large flakes of paint with the pliers. Take care not to damage the nozzle or hose during this process.
2. Clean the filter
Most paint sprayers have a removable filter in the gun portion. To access it, unscrew the handle and take it out. Rinse and gently scrub until water runs clear through the filter, then put it back into the handle and re-secure the screws.
3. Rinse your sprayer
Using your two buckets of water, run your sprayer until the water runs clear. This will take a while, since congealed/dried paint can once again clog your filter or nozzle.
If that occurs, repeat steps 1 and 2 before continuing this step. When the water runs clear out of your sprayer, free from all paint (or flecks of dried paint), you’re ready to move on to the next step.
4. Prime with water
Run clean water through your paint sprayer one more time, just to be sure all the paint particles and pieces are gone.
5. Clean the inlet strainer
This piece is at the bottom of the siphon/intake tube. It’s possible steps 3 and 4 cleaned this thoroughly already—but if you notice any paint left on the inlet strainer, remove it with your brush and rinse it well. Repeat step 4.
6. If needed, use solvent
In the unlikely event the previous steps haven’t removed all the paint in your paint sprayer, you’ll need a solvent. Be careful with application: it can damage tubing and other components when it sits too long.
Apply your solvent to a cloth and rub the dried paint gently. When it’s gone, rinse that component/area with water, then prime the entire sprayer with water once more.
7. Allow to dry, then store
To prevent mold from forming, make sure your paint sprayer and all its pieces are dried before storing. If you are storing the sprayer for a long time, you can use manufacturer-recommended solvents or other pump preservation liquids. Follow the instructions to store your sprayer properly.
Negative Effects Of Dried Latex Paint Inside Paint Sprayers
Latex paint is water-based and contains acrylic resin.
Although its formula is similar to acrylic paints you might use for art projects or crafting, latex paint is intended for larger areas: interior walls or ceilings, outdoor siding, and an array of other projects.
One benefit of latex paint over other formulas is that it dries quickly.
Unfortunately, this also means it can dry up inside your paint sprayer pretty fast, so cleaning it after use is important.
Dried paint inside a paint sprayer keeps it from working properly the next time you use it, and can clog or even permanently damage components in the machine.
Cleaning latex paint from a sprayer usually requires little more than water and scrubbing, but if it’s been sitting for a while, you might need something stronger to strip the cured paint away.
Questions About Cleaning Latex Paint
How long does latex paint take to dry when sprayed?
Latex paint dries fairly quickly when you apply it with a sprayer—about an hour for touch-dryness and 4 hours until you can apply another coat.
Can I leave paint in the sprayer overnight?
Some paint sprayers can be left with paint in them overnight—just don’t leave them pressurized, and store the intake/siphon tube and the sprayer gun in some water.
Note that some manufacturers don’t recommend this; rather, they advise completely flushing out your sprayer for overnight idling or storage. While re-priming and refilling the pump the very next day might seem like a hassle, it is much easier than having to clean out dried or cured paint.
Will rubbing alcohol remove latex paint?
Yes, rubbing alcohol can remove dried latex paint from most surfaces safely, including components of your sprayer. As with all solvents, however, it’s wise to use sparingly and in an inconspicuous area to test first.
What are some signs you should replace a paint sprayer?
Although you can troubleshoot and repair most problems you’ll encounter with your sprayer, you’ll know it’s time to replace it when the internal components show significant wear, the sprayer functions incorrectly (or not at all), and repairing it would cost a significant amount compared to purchasing a new sprayer.
Keep in mind that external components, like hoses and tips, can be replaced cheaply and easily.
Paint sprayers make quick work out of big painting projects but are difficult to clean if paint sits in them too long and starts drying or curing. When the nozzle, hose, filter, or virtually any part of a sprayer is clogged with congealed or dried paint, fresh paint won’t be able to flow through.
The result will be a non-functioning sprayer, or uneven results. Fortunately, completely removing the dried paint is possible—and can keep your paint sprayer working beautifully for years to come.