How To Clean Dried Latex Paint from a Paint Sprayer (5-Step Guide)

Last Updated On September 22, 2023

Wondering how to clean dried latex paint from a paint sprayer? You're in the right place!

In this guide, you'll learn:

  • What you need to know about cleaning a paint sprayer
  • Supplies you'll need for cleaning dried latex paint from a paint sprayer
  • ​The steps to cleaning your paint sprayer

And much more!

How to Clean Dried Latex Paint from a Paint Sprayer

It’s recommended to thoroughly clean a paint sprayer after every use.  

However, sometimes we forget, because we’re human and make mistakes.  

The only problem is, paint dries very quickly, and it doesn’t matter if it’s inside a hose or on the outside of a house.  

So if you’ve left a dirty paint sprayer to sit for a few hours, the paint inside will begin to dry out and crust over the insides of the sprayer.  

This can be incredibly problematic for your next use, because the sprayer will be gummed up with paint.  Latex paint is particularly bad, and can cause lasting problems if it’s not properly removed from the sprayer as quickly as possible.

So, if you want to make sure you get all the dried latex paint out of your paint sprayer, keep reading to learn everything you need to know!

What You Need to Know About Cleaning Dried Latex Paint from a Paint Sprayer

Latex paint is a strong adhesive that can cause some serious clogs.  To be frank, an HVLP paint sprayer needs proper clean up every time you use it.  

Dry paint begins to build up and becomes harder and harder to remove the longer it sits.  

If you don't clean paint out from your paint sprayer with warm water or some sort of paint remover, the old paint will quickly clog up the spray tips inside your paint gun.  The longer it sits, your paint gun will get harder to use.

If you leave it too long, you'll need a strong paint stripper like mineral spirits or goof off to remove the dry paint from inside the paint tips.  

If you're going to be using your paint sprayer frequently, proper maintenance is the best thing you can do.  Hopefully, this article can walk you through how to get it nice and clean so you can get back to your regularly scheduled paint job.  

You don't want to have to resort to using a paintbrush because you don't have a functioning paint sprayer.  

Read More >> How Do You Clean a Graco Paint Sprayer?

Did you know: Latex paint is resistant to common paint imperfections like flaking, blistering, and peeling.

Supplies You’ll Need for Cleaning Dried Latex Paint from a Paint Sprayer

When you’re trying to get any sort of dried paint from a paint sprayer, you’ll need to have several important things on hand.  This is doubly true for dried latex paint because of how resilient and binding the paint is.  

Latex paint is less likely to dissolve or melt, which would help the removal process for other paints.  Instead, you’ll need to be prepared with the following:

  • Small soft-bristled brush for scraping/brushing the paint from surfaces and filters
  • Garden hose
  • Two five gallon buckets to fill with water so you can run it through the sprayer
  • Pliers, both for disassembling the sprayer and removing some of the dried paint from the interior
  • Goof off, mineral spirits, or another solvent in case the paint is too difficult to remove with just water and a brush

How To Clean Dried Latex Paint from a Paint Sprayer (5-Step Guide)

  1. Remove the Nozzle
  2. Clean the Filter
  3. Run clean water through the Sprayer
  4. Prime the sprayer again with clean water
  5. Clean out the inlet strainer

Step 1 - Remove the nozzle of the sprayer

You’ll have to clean the nozzle and tip thoroughly in order to get any other work done.  The tip slides into a small hole, and this is likely jammed with latex paint.  Using the soft bristled brush, scrape away any paint that you can.  

The garden hose will help you wet the area and potentially break up some of the dried paint. 

 Using the pliers, you can also reach in and pull out larger pieces of paint.  Be careful not to damage the nozzle or the rest of the sprayer in the process.  

Without opening up the hole for liquid to exit the sprayer, you won’t be able to drive water through the rest of the system, and therefore will have difficulty cleaning the entire set up.

Step 2 - Remove and clean the filter inside the spray gun

Typically, inside the handle assembly of the spray gun, there is a filter that can be removed.  Unscrew the handle and remove this filter and clean it thoroughly.  

The filter will likely be the most covered surface in the entire assembly, which makes it very difficult to clean.  

Because this filter processes all the viscous paint that travels through it, it will quickly become very congealed.  

Without cleaning this, you will run into the same problem discussed in the previous section - an inability to force water through the system to clean it.  

Make sure the filter is completely clear, and pour water through it to ensure it passes through without any resistance.  When that’s complete, you can put it back into the assembly and run water through it to clear out the rest of the spray gun.

Read More >> How to Thin Latex Paint for a Wagner Paint Sprayer

Step 3 - Run clean water through the sprayer 

Now that you’ve got the major components cleaned out, you can run clean water through the sprayer.  

Fill up the buckets and run water through the hoses to begin pushing the remainder of the paint out.  At this point, you will likely run into several obstacles, as the paint pieces become embedded in the filter or the nozzle again.  

You’ll have to repeat steps one and two several times to ensure that everything comes out of the filter and is removed from the hoses properly.  

Once you’ve accomplished this, you will start seeing clean water running through the sprayer.  When you can spray the water out without hindrance and it comes out clean, you are complete.

Step 4 - Prime the sprayer with water once again  

Fill up the bucket once again and spray into the second bucket.  Priming the sprayer after its cleaned will make sure that there is no additional paint left in the siphon tube or throughout the system.  

It is recommended to do this a second time just to ensure that nothing was missed in the first pass.  Once you can be sure that there is no paint coming through with the water, you can continue on.

Step 5 - Clean out the inlet strainer  

The inlet strainer is at the base of the siphon tube, and it will likely still have some built up latex paint on the grate.  

The water cleaning process will hopefully have eliminated the majority of the paint, but there will probably be a bit remaining that must be removed with the soft bristle brush.  

Scrape the paint from this and rinse it off thoroughly to ensure that it will not draw any paint into the system again.  

Once this is clean, your system will be fresh and ready to use again.  

Test it out by running more water through it (as some flakes may have fallen into the hose while cleaning the strainer), and verify that it is completely clean.

Read More >> How to Clean a Wagner Paint Sprayer

Other Valuable Resources for Cleaning Dried Latex Paint from a Paint Sprayer

You can search through Google to find some more options for removing dried latex paint from a paint gun.  It's not a tough process in the end, especially if you use the right materials.  

However, making sure you keep it clean will make your life easier every time you go to use your spray gun because you won't have to constantly clean up the dry paint.  

If you need it, Goof Off, alcohol, and mineral spirits are good solvents to deep clean the dry paint from your paint sprayer.  

Hopefully you can avoid using them, because the extra chemicals will wear out the gaskets and tubing in your gun over time.  

The most important thing to remember every time you use your HVLP paint sprayer is to properly maintain it.  

This will save you time and preserve your paint gun for years to come so that you can protect your investment without stress.  

Final Thoughts on Cleaning Dried Latex Paint from a Paint Sprayer

If you've got paint gumming up the works in your HVLP spray gun, you should get it cleaned as quickly as possible.  

The longer these things sit, the harder they become to clean.  The hoses can become completely blocked and the spray tips will be impassable.  

If you get to work quickly, you can avoid the heavy work of using solvents to break up all the paint. Even if you have to use a strong chemical, it is better to have it clean than to let it continue sitting.  

Take a look through the steps outlined here to get your paint sprayer clean and ready for action once again.  

Read More >> How Do You Clean a Paint Sprayer?

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Phil Ash

Phil Ash

After running my own painting business and 20+ years of painting experience, I’m still learning new things everyday about how to nail the perfect paint job. In addition to myself, I started Pro Paint Corner to connect you with painting experts to provide unbiased answers to all your painting questions.

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Phil Ash

Phil Ash

After running my own painting business and 20+ years of painting experience, I’m still learning new things everyday about how to nail the perfect paint job. In addition to myself, I started Pro Paint Corner to connect you with painting experts to provide unbiased answers to all your painting questions.

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