How To Clean an HVLP Spray Gun? (5-Step Guide)

Want to know how to clean an HVLP spray gun easily? We've got you covered!

In this ProPaintCorner.com guide, you'll learn:

  • What you need to know about spray gun cleaning
  • Supplies you'll need for cleaning your HVLP spray gun
  • Steps to clean your HVLP spray gun

And much more!

Man preparing to clean an HVLP spray gun

So you've wrapped up another successful DIY painting project and now it's time for the fun part: clean up.

You may be wondering how to clean an HVLP spray gun after you've gotten it all covered in paint. Luckily, spray gun cleaning isn't that hard if you follow the right steps.

So, before you dive into cleaning your spray gun, keep reading to learn the key steps you'll need to take to get the best clean possible!

What Do You Need To Know About HVLP Spray Gun Cleaning?

Cleaning an HVLP spray gun isn't a very difficult process, but it is a very important one for maintaining the gun's quality over time.

Though it's tempting to leave the clean up for later, with spray guns that's the worst thing you can do. This is because if paint is left to dry inside the gun it can get stuck and clog very easily. 

If it does clog, that can cause issues with the spray pattern in the future, even if you give it a thorough cleaning you still might have some paint residue that gets stuck inside and causes buildup.

With all those little, but essential parts, inside the gun, you need to take proper steps to make sure your gun will continue working well.

This is why we recommend cleaning your gun parts immediately after you finish working with it every time to maximize the life of the spray gun.

But, once you get this process down it'll be fairly easy to repeat each time.

Did you know: Most people will be able to save 30% to 50%  on materials when they get good at using an HVLP gun.

Take Caution During Disassembly

Although this process is fairly simple, the important thing to consider here is your unique HVLP spray gun and how it's meant to be disassembled.

You'll want to do your research, either online or in your user manual, on how to disassemble your unique HVLP gun.

The reason this is so important is because each gun has a different set up and often has little gun parts that are delicate and should be treated as such.

As you take the gun apart, you'll want to be very careful not to bend or otherwise harm any of those tiny parts like the needle or the fluid tip because that can make it almost impossible to put the gun back together again.

Keep Track of Parts

The other mistake folks make is simply dumping all the gun parts in a sink basin together. Then they'll fill it up with soapy water and start scrubbing.

The problem with this is the little parts, like the fluid needle, can easily get lost in the soapy mess and can end up getting bent or broken.

That's why we recommend developing a process where you keep the small discrete parts away from the larger parts of the gun while your cleaning them.

Paint gun cleaning doesn't need to be a super difficult process, it just needs to be thoughtfully done to protect your spray gun in the long term.

Supplies You’ll Need For Cleaning Your HVLP Paint Gun

Giving your HVLP spray gun a thorough cleaning requires a few supplies that hopefully you'll already have on hand.

So before you run out and buy a spray gun cleaning kit, check out the list below to see if you might already have everything you need.

  • Soapy water
  • Paint thinner or Cleaning solution
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Bristle cleaning brush (usually comes with spray gun)
  • Paper towels or rags
  • Toothpicks
  • Plastic cups/buckets
  • Gun wrench (usually comes with the spray gun)

One more note before we dive into these steps: As you develop your cleaning process, make sure you include protective equipment like plastic gloves and goggles, especially if you're using a heavy duty cleaning solution or paint thinner.

If these things come in contact with your skin or your eyes they can really damage your health, so make sure you protect yourself appropriately.

Read More >> What Are the Best HVLP Spray Guns for Cabinets?

How To Clean an HVLP Paint Sprayer (5-Step Guide)

  1. Clean out the paint cup
  2. Disassemble the gun body
  3. Submerge the parts in paint thinner
  4. Wipe everything down thoroughly
  5. Reassemble the spray gun

Step 1 - Clean out the paint cup

First things first you want to clean out the paint cup.

This is the part that will likely have the most paint or fluid on it. So you'll want to start by filling up the cup with your paint thinner or other cleaning solution.

After you've filled it up, put the cap back on the cup and give it a good shake to really loosen the fluid up. Then, go ahead and pull the trigger and let the paint thinner spray into a plastic cup or bucket. 

This will allow some of the thinner to work it's way through the inner mechanisms of the paint spray gun and do some of the deep cleaning work for you.

Then, you'll want to run a paper towel with some paint thinner on it through the inside of the cup  (make sure you use nitrile gloves for this to avoid getting it on your skin) to clean paint out of the main body. You'll also want to clean off the inside of the cap.

Step 2 - Disassemble the gun body

Next you'll want to unscrew the gun body from the paint cup and set the paint cup aside to dry on a paper towel. Then, you'll move on to disassembling the rest of the spray gun body.

Start by unscrewing the air cap of the gun. Then, be very careful as you go to unscrew the needle. The fluid needle is usually spring loaded, so as you unscrew it, it will shoot off the gun if you don't hold it in place very carefully.

Now, you'll need to grab the wrench that likely came with your gun to unscrew the inner part of the air cap and then set that aside with all the other smaller gun parts.

Step 3 - Submerge the parts in paint thinner

After you've taken the spray gun apart, it's time to give all those smaller parts a thorough cleaning. While we recommend using paint thinner, since it makes the job much easier, you could use a simple cleaning solution or soapy water for this step if you prefer.

The important part is that you just take care of all these small parts and make sure they don't get damaged during the cleaning process.

So, we recommend you take the outer air cap, inner air cap, and the main gun body and dunk them in a plastic cup or bucket full of paint thinner.

Allowing them to fully soak will break up any paint residue that is lingering inside and make it much easier to detail clean the parts.

However, we don't recommend dunking the needle or the spring in the solution with all of these other parts as they can easily get lost or bent during this process.

Step 4 - Wipe everything down thoroughly

Once you've given everything some time to soak (usually a few minutes to a half an hour) it's time to take them all out of the cleaning solution and start wiping them down.

This is where a bristle cleaning brush and some toothpicks can be helpful. Use the brush to scrub the fluid tip and air cap pieces to get any additional residue off. It should come off much easier now that it's been soaking for a while.

Then, if you notice any buildup around the little ridges inside, you can (very carefully) take a toothpick to get any paint out of those grooves.

Next you'll take a rag or paper towel with a bit of cleaning solution on it and wipe the fluid needle and spring down thoroughly.

Step 5 - Reassemble the spray gun

Finally, once you've given all of the parts a thorough cleaning, you'll start to reassemble the spray gun.

First, put the needle and spring back in place. Then screw on the inner air cap, then the outer air cap.

Put the paint cup back on the gun body and put the cap on it, and now you're done!

Final Thoughts on Cleaning an HVLP Spray Gun

Cleaning an HVLP spray gun is an important part of keeping your spray equipment functioning well.

Learning this process from start to finish is an essential part of the painting process, and the sooner you get it done the better.

That's why we recommend getting familiar with your unique HVLP gun and finding a process that is easy, but also very effective at eliminating paint residue buildup after each use.

If you take good care of your spray gun, it will hopefully last for a long time and help you complete as many DIY projects as you can!

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Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Madison Rude

Madison Rude

I’m kind of a painting nerd. My mom taught me how to paint when I was nine, and since then I’ve painted rooms, furniture...you name it. I’ve written technical advice for Wagner sprayers, and I’ve spent a lot of time DIYing my own home. I’m no expert, but I love to learn. And here at ProPaintCorner, I learn more about painting every time I work with one of our painting pros to bring you the best product reviews and How To advice available. Together, let’s make your next painting project the best it can be!

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Madison Rude

Madison Rude

I’m kind of a painting nerd. My mom taught me how to paint when I was nine, and since then I’ve painted rooms, furniture...you name it. I’ve written technical advice for Wagner sprayers, and I’ve spent a lot of time DIYing my own home. I’m no expert, but I love to learn. And here at ProPaintCorner, I learn more about painting every time I work with one of our painting pros to bring you the best product reviews and How To advice available. Together, let’s make your next painting project the best it can be!

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