Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tools of the Trade: Airbrush Cleaning and Maintenance

Hey all,

today I wanted to show you, how I clean and maintain my Iwata HP-C Plus. For this, I differentiate between two cleaning processes: Basic and Thorough. Also quite important is the part about proper maintenance, so your airbrush will perform correctly.

I even edited my first Youtube video for this post, because the process is easier to show then to explain: enjoy:

1. Basic Airbrush Cleaning

If you use a brush to wipe down the paint cup, be careful not to press to hard, as the metal ferule of the brush can scratch the inside of the paintcup.

2. Thorough Airbrush Cleaning

But what to do, when your brush really is gunked up and needs special attention? You basically have two options here, both of which include disassembling your airbrush.

My airbrush completely dis-assembled

You either can clean all the parts by hand, or use an ultrasonic cleaner. This thing really is something else. After a 7 minute cleaning cycle you can see all the tiny paint particles, which where deep inside your brush.

The ultrasonic cleaner at work

After the cleaning is done, rinse all the parts with clean water, so any residue of paint or cleaning solution will be gone. Just be careful, not to lose any of the parts, especially the nozzle.
When you're finished, just put all the parts on a piece of kitchen roll, so they can dry completely.

Drying out and ready for maintenance

3. Airbrush Maintenance

An airbrush is a precision tool. You'll need to take good care of it, if you're expecting it to perform perfectly every time you use it.

I've noticed, that the trigger mechanism of my airbrush was getting a bit harder to pull, after I used the ultrasonic cleaner for the first time. This is because the cleaner removes not only the leftover paint, but also the lube inside of the airbrush. So you'll need to get a replacement lube, if you plan on using an airbrush. My choice was Ballistol, a German brand of cleaning oil, famous for it's use in gun-maintenance. I just sprayed a few tiny bursts of oil onto all the moving parts prior to assembly. For a final touch, I used the piece of kitchen towel which had some of the oil left on it, to carefully lube the needle, so that the whole mechanism was ready.

All the moving parts of the airbrush.

And it worked like a charm. The trigger was moving beautifully and all the little hitches were gone. Now you just need to re-assemble the airbrush and you are good to go.

The airbrush after cleaning and maintenance - good as new!




  1. Great instructions there! I got myself my first airbrush, an Iwata HP-SBS recently and have been learning how to use one as well as clean it. It was really daunting the first time I disassembled my airbrush, I didn't realize that some parts could be unscrewed!

    What sort of ultrasonic cleaner do you have there in the picture? I've been interested in the ultrasonic cleaner and have been looking around for something I could use for something like this.

  2. I use an Emmi 4, which is exactly the right size for my HP-C Plus. Works like a charm an is a pretty basic model - but for this purpose, you don't need a cleaner with all the bells and whistles. You can check the specs out here:




  3. Sounds very interesting! I will check this out! painter phoenix az

  4. Do you use water, alcohol, or cleaner in your ultrasonic?

  5. I use tapwater, mixed with a cap of the cleaning solution which was included in the kit (although I'm sure it would have the same effect to use a splash of airbrush cleaner with the tapwater).