We sure do like our toys, uh, I mean tools - but what we don’t like is cleaning them after each use. It’s a necessary evil so it must be done and done properly.
Let’s take a look at how to clean one of the most finicky of tools, the paint spray gun. When not done properly, the spray gun won’t perform as it should so it’s imperative that we clean it after each use. Those that use them daily can get away with a light cleaning but should be sure to clean them at least every three to four months.
To get started, we’ve compiled a list of the tools needed to get the job done properly:
- Parts bucket: to place all of the parts in so you can keep track of them and to clean them in one spot
- spray gun cleaner or a gun cleaning solvent
- Chemical safe gloves: a definite must if using cleaning solvent
- O-ring lubricant- Cleaning brush
- Remove the lid from the color pot
- Unscrew the paint color pot from the spray gun
- Unscrew the air cap from the tip of the spray gun
- Remove the fluid need cap from the back end of the paint sprayer gun- Squeezing the trigger, remove the fluid needle from the back end of the spray gun- Squeezing the trigger, remove the spring from the back end of the spray gun- Remove the fluid tip
You should have placed all of these parts into your parts bucket - an old, clean paint can works great. If you didn’t put your parts into the bucket, do it now (and hope that you didn’t lose anything). Place the gun housing into the parts bucket as well. Add paint thinner or gun cleaning solvent to the bucket and soak all of the parts for approximately five minutes.
Once you have let everything soak, scrub each of the parts down with a cleaning brush and set aside to dry. Now it’s time to reassemble the gun.
Once you have cleaned and dried the parts, it’s time to reassemble your spray gun.
- Replace the fluid tip and tighten it down
- Put some lubricant or vaseline along the outside of the needle and insert through the back of the spray gun
- Insert the spring into the back end of the spray gun
- Squeeze the trigger to make sure it is working properly
- Replace the air cap
- Screw the color pot onto the top of the gun and replace the lid
Once you have put your gun back together, squeeze the trigger to make sure it is working properly.
DAY TO DAY CLEANING
For those that use their paint sprayers daily, a quick cleaning may suffice, but be sure to do a more thorough cleaning every three months or so.
- Parts bucket
- Paint thinner
- Spray gun cleaner
- Cleaning brushes
Pour paint thinner into the paint color cup and spray to clean the chamber out, touch the tip of the spray gun for a moment to provide back pressure. This will help dislodge any dried paint inside.
Dip the brush in the spray gun cleaner and brush the paint sprayer gun housing and paint color cup. You don’t have to remove any parts, but you can remove the color cup if you prefer.
Let the gun dry, and that’s all you need for a quick daily cleaning.
Pro Tip: It might be a good investment for those that use their paint spray guns daily to purchase a paint gun cleaning box, which works like a combination of a sink and a dishwasher. It sprays thinner onto the parts as you wash them, making the clean-up even more simple than it already is.
Graco & Wagner Airless Spray Guns
The following instructions pertain to cleaning the Graco & Wagner airless paint sprayers. You might want to take notes as to how the gun is disassembled so that you’ll know how to reassemble the gun after cleaning.
- Parts bucket
- Paint thinner
- Spray gun cleaner
- Chemical gloves
- Cleaning towels to wipe hands
- O-ring lubricant
- Crescent wrench
- ⅝ inch box wrench
- Eyeglass screwdriver
- 9/32 socket wrench to remove pin
- O-ring replacements (if needed)
Take note of the first step, it’s important that you begin by squeezing & holding the trigger when removing the tip of the gun. This is because the needle sits on the end of the gun and if you accidentally score the needle when you begin turning it will cut the needle causing paint to leak when you use it next. As you remove the parts place them in the parts bucket so that you don’t lose anything.
- Using the ⅝ inch wrench, unscrew the front tip of the gun (keeping the trigger squeezed the entire time)
- After the tip of the gun comes off, release the trigger
- Squeeze trigger and using the ⅝ inch box wrench, remove the back tip of the gun
- Remove the spring from the back end piece
- Remove the spring cap
Removing the needle:
Remove the bolt that holds the needle in place. Next, attaching the crescent wrench to the right side (as the gun faces away from you) and using the 9/32 inch socket wrench on the opposite side, remove the bolt and nuts
- Screw the nuts back on the bolt to prevent them from getting lost and put in the parts bucket
- Pull the needle out
- Using the eyeglass screwdriver, remove the o-ring from the needle seat
Pro Tip: Pinch the o-ring with your fingers to get the screwdriver behind it
- Check the o-ring for condition, if it needs replacing throw the old one out and have a new one ready for re-assembly
Removing the filter:
The filter is located inside of the gun body, if you haven’t removed the knuckle guard yet, remove it now.
- Unscrew the nozzle
- Remove the filter
- Place the nozzle in the thinner
- Remove the filter for cleaning
- Place the gun body in the spray gun cleaner to soak as well
Cleaning the parts:
Add spray gun cleaner or paint thinner to the parts bucket and let soak for approximately five minutes. After letting the parts soak for about five minutes, it’s time for you to clean the parts.
- Put the chemical safe gloves on
- Begin scrubbing each part with the toothbrush
Pro Tip: Use the Q-tip to get down inside the hollow parts that the toothbrush can’t reach
Spray the parts with your air compressor gun and let it dry the remaining amount naturally. Using a towel or cloth can leave fibers or dirt on the parts causing the spray gun to not work properly after reassembled.
Assemble the gun:
Lay the parts out on a clean table or on newspaper.
Pro Tip: Put the parts in order needed to put the spray gun back together
Begin by reassembling the handle:
- Put the filter in the handle
- Screw the nozzle back on over the filter
- Reattach the knuckle guard
Assemble the packings:
- Lubricate the o-rings before replacing them into the spray gun
- The larger o-ring attaches to the front tip of the gun
- The other o-ring attaches to the end of the needle tip
- Lubricate the outside of the needle o-ring to allow it to insert into the gun easier
- Insert the needle
Note: The needle has a hole that will line up with a hole on the nozzle, allowing you to see through them both when inserted properly
- Place the small spring cap in first, making sure that it sets properly. The top of the hat should go in first
- Insert the spring
- Tighten the spring with the ⅝ inch wrench but don’t tighten all the way yet
- Insert the pin through the hole on the side of the sprayer
- Attach the nut to the pin, tightening it with the socket wrench and crescent wrench technique used earlier
- Check the trigger to make sure it works properly
Assemble the fluid end:
You’re almost done, now you just have finish off with assembling the fluid end of the gun.
- Place the knuckle guard end over the needle
- Squeezing and holding the trigger, replace the fluid tip using the ⅝ inch box wrench
- Attach the bottom part of the knuckle guard to the paint sprayer gun
Lastly, simply tighten the ends and when your done check that the trigger is properly working and you are all set to paint your next project with a nice, clean spray gun.
- Always use your compressed air gun on your parts to assist with any fluid left.
- Don’t use a cloth to dry the pieces as it could leave dirt and cloth fibers
- Don’t use recycled primer for a full cleaning
- Purchase a paint sprayer cleaning kit, which includes various brushes and devices to clean the different parts of your gun
- If you notice your spray gun is dribbling or squirting paint, check to make sure the pressure is at the proper level; that the tip is not clogged; if the filters need changed; or if the spray tip is too large or needs replacing
- If your spray pattern is more round than narrow, your spray tip needs replacing
The cleaning steps listed here are offered to you because everyone who owns a spray paint gun should know how to clean it properly. I had a gun that I thought I cleaned properly but didn’t. It was a total loss because, even if I could have replaced the parts, I was better off buying a new one. So if you want your paint sprayer to last, make sure you clean and maintain it properly.
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