How to Clean Dried Paint Rollers: Make Them Look Like New

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A dried paint roller is probably something that everyone had to deal with at some point. Maybe you forgot to clean it the day before or you didn´t clean it properly or maybe you tried to store it in a plastic bag overnight just to discover that the bag wasn´t sealed properly and now the paint has dried on your paint roller. No matter what happened in this article I will tell you exactly how to clean your dried paint rollers and make them look new again.

As a whole, to clean dried paint rollers they have to be soaked in a solution that dissolves the dried paint. If the paint is water-based then soak the paint roller in a water and soap mixture for a couple of hours. Oil-based paint has to be soaked in mineral spirits or paint strippers to dissolve it.

There are a few more things that you need to pay attention to but don´t worry, I have them outlined in the sections below.

1. Determine the Kind of Paint that You Want to Remove

The first thing that we need to do is determine if the paint on the paint roller is water-based or oil-based. Most of the time you can simply refer to the packaging of the paint but sometimes you have no idea what kind of paint was used, so what can you do then?

You can simply use an old piece of cloth or an old towel that you don´t need anymore and put some methylated spirits on it. Then wipe it over the dried paint on the paint roller.

If the piece of cloth is stained then the paint is water-based, if it isn´t stained then the paint is oil-based.

Paint rollers are mostly used to paint walls so most dried paint rollers will probably have dried latex paint on them which is water-based.

2. Prepare the Solution to Dissolve the Dried Paint

You will soak the paint roller in a solution that dissolves the dried paint but depending on the type of paint you will need a different kind of solution.

For water-based paint, you can simply mix some water with soap and soak the paint roller in that to dissolve the paint.

To prepare the water-soap mix simply will a jar with water and then add about 5 drops of soap. Mix it well and you are done.

When you are dealing with oil-based paint, however, you will need something that is a bit stronger because oil-based paint will not get dissolved by water at all.

To dissolve oil-based paint you can either use mineral spirits or paint stripper.

Don´t mix the paint stripper or the mineral spirits with water. Just fill-up the jar or the tray, where you soak the paint roller in, with the solution.

3. Soak the Dried Paint Roller in the Solution for One Hour

Prepare a jar or a tray that is deep enough to fully submerge the paint roller in and fill it up with the solution that you need to remove the type of paint dried up on your paint roller.

If you are using mineral spirits or paint stripper then make sure to keep the jar away from the sunlight and the heater and make sure to wear gloves when handling these kinds of solutions as they can be harmful to your skin.

Then submerge the paint roller fully in the solution and let it sit for about an hour. You will see that the solution slowly starts to take the color of the paint roller and you may even see dried paint floating in or on top of the solution.

4. Clean the Paint Roller Under Running Water

After letting the paint roller sit in the solution for about an hour it´s time to take it out and clean it under some running water. You can use some soap to clean off some of the paint on the paint roller.

It is very unlikely that you will be able to get the paint roller completely free of all the dried paint in just one go so don´t worry if there is still dried paint left on the paint roller.

It will usually take anywhere between 2 and 5 rounds until all of the dried paint is gone.

It is generally easier to clean water-based paint than it is to clean oil-based paint. This is why it will usually take more rounds to remove dried oil-based paint from paint rollers.

5. Repeat Until all the of the Paint is Gone

Put the paint roller back into the solution and let it sit for another hour or so. If the solution is getting too discolored from all the paint then you should prepare a new jar with the solution to submerge the paint roller in.

Simply repeat the process of submerging and then cleaning the paint roller under running water until the water runs clear.

And with that, you have successfully cleaned your paint roller and it will look almost like new.

And in the future you may want to properly clean your paint roller after using it. I actually wrote an entire article on how to properly clean a paint roller. You can read it right here.

Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.

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