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How to Clean Paint Rollers Without Making a Mess

I love using paint rollers to paint larger surfaces and it isn´t hard to guess why. Paint rollers apply the paint evenly and quickly especially if you want to paint a large surface area like walls or a door or a wooden fence. But while paint rollers are very convenient for painting they are very annoying to clean. And, if you are not careful, cleaning paint rollers gets messy real quick. So in this article, I will tell you exactly how to clean your paint rollers from any kind of paint and how to avoid making a mess in the process.

As a whole, you can wash and reuse every type of paint roller from any type of paint but the better the quality of the paint roller the easier it is to clean and the longer it will last you. It is recommended to either clean or properly store the paint roller after using it to prolong the life of the paint roller.

How you clean the paint roller completely depends on what kind of paint you used.

You don´t have to clean your paint roller after every painting session, by the way. If you plan on applying another coat of the same paint the next day then you can simply store your paint roller for the next day without needing to clean it.

How to Clean a Paint Roller From Water-Based Paint

Water-based paint is way easier to clean off a paint roller than oil-based paint which is also why I prefer using water-based paints for most of my projects. I only use oil-based paints if I really have to.

If you are painting a wall then chances are that you used water-based paint like latex paint. In which case you can follow this section on how to clean your paint roller from water-based paints.

If you are using oil-based paint then you can refer to a section further down in this article where I explain exactly how you can clean your paint roller from oil-based paint.

Scrape Off Excess Paint

The first step is scraping off any excess paint from your paint roller. You can use a 6 in 1 painter´s tool for that or you can simply use a putty knife.

You can get a 6 in 1 painter´s tool right here on Amazon.

Simply hold your paint roller over a bucket and scrape the painter´s tool over the paint roller. Start at the top of the roller and move all the way to the bottom.

The excess paint will come loose and run into the bucket below.

Repeat this until almost no paint is being scraped off anymore.

Remove the Roller Frame From the Paint Roller

Before you can go ahead and clean the roller itself it is important to remove the frame first.

You should put on some rubber or latex gloves for this step.

Grap the paint roller with one hand and the frame of the roller with the other hand. Then gently start pulling the toller away from the frame.

You should be able to pull the roller out of the frame with only a little bit of force.

Put the roller frame aside, for now, we will clean it later. We will concentrate our efforts on properly cleaning the paint roller first.

Prepare Some Soapy Water

Fill a bucket or another type of container where the paint roller can fit in, with some warm water.

Then add a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid to it and mix the solution until the dishwashing liquid has dissolved.

Clean the Paint Roller

Finally, all you have to do is cleaning the paint roller with the soap-water solution.

Simply put the roller into the soapy water and squeeze it a couple of times. Then take it out and hold it under running warm water to wash away the paint.

Repeat until the roller is completely clean.

If the container with the soapy water gets too dirty then simply pour it away and prepare a new soapy water solution.

Make sure that the roller is completely free of soap before you put it aside to let it dry.

Clean the Roller Frame

All that is left to do is cleaning the roller frame. This is fairly easy as all you have to do is cleaning it under running water with a brush and some dishwasher liquid.

Set it aside until it is dry and then reconnect it with the paint roller.

How to Clean a Paint Roller From Water-Based Paint – The Quick and Dirty Way

You can also use a Paint Roller Cleaner in conjunction with a drill to clean your paint rollers extremely fast but it’s also a little bit messy. So it is best done outside.

You can get the tool right here on Amazon.

Taras Kul made a really awesome video where you can see exactly how to use the tool and how quickly you can clean paint rollers with it.

How to Clean a Paint Roller From Oil-Based Paint

In all honesty, cleaning oil-based paint from paint rollers is really annoying and you need to use some sort of remover that is usually slightly toxic.

It is recommended that you clean oil-based paint in well-ventilated areas only. Because the cleaning agents used to clean oil-based paints are very aggressive. So wear plastic or latex gloves at all times while cleaning oil-based paints from paint rollers.

Remove Excess Paint

First of all, you need to remove excess paint from the paint roller. You can do this by rolling the paint roller over a surface.

I prefer using old newspapers for this.

Keep rolling the paint roller over that surface until most of the paint has been removed from the roller.

Prepare a Container Filled With the Right Paint Remover

Oil paint can´t be cleaned with water because oil repels water. So you need a special paint remover to clean a paint roller from oil-paint

You can refer to the label of the paint container in order to find out which paint remover is best for the oil paint that you used.

Most of the time you can use Acetone but there are some oil paints that recommend using a different kind of paint remover.

Now fill a container with just enough remover so that you can cover your roller in it.

Remove the Roller Frame and Clean the Roller

Before cleaning the roller itself it is important to remove the roller frame first.

You should wear plastic or latex gloves for all of these steps!

Grap the roller with one hand and the roller frame with the other hand. Then gently pull them apart. The roller should come off right away without any issues.

Then submerge the roller in the cleaning solution and squeeze it with your hand. Do this until the solution is tinted in the color of the paint.

Put the dirty solution in a plastic bottle and fill the container with another layer of paint remover. Then clean the roller until it is completely free of any paint.

Clean the paint remover from the paint roller with some warm water.

Finally, put the roller aside so that it can dry and fill the rest of the used paint remover in the plastic bottle. You have to dispose of the paint remover according to the regulations in your area. Don´t simply dispose of it in your regular trash.

Consider if You Even Have to Clean Your Paint Roller

By “Consider if you even have to clean your paint roller” I don´t mean, “throw your paint roller away if it is a cheap one” I actually mean that you should consider if you want to clean your paint roller right away or if you want to clean it after your project is finished.

Let me explain.

If you are painting a wall, for example, you will often need more than one coat of paint to properly cover the wall with the new paint.

So after applying the first coat of paint you have to let the paint dry over a couple of hours but then you will need to apply a second coat of the exact same paint to the wall. In this case you don´t have to clean your paint roller after the first coat because you will need it for the next coat in just a couple of hours.

But if you don´t clean your paint roller then the paint will dry and you paint roller is done for, right?

Well, not exactly. You can store the paint roller for the next use by simply wrapping it up in a plastic bag and sealing the plastic bag airtight. This will hinder the paint from drying and you can simply unwrap the paint roller and use it straight away for the next coat.

You effectively saved yourself some work by not cleaning the paint roller in between the paint applications.

For storing a paint roller I usually just use a garbage bag that I then seal with some tape. It’s more than enough to keep air away from the paint and the only thing you have to watch out for is that you keep the plastic bag away from any heat sources and from sunlight so that the paint on the roller has no chance to dry up.

This trick works with oil-based and water-based paints.

Clean Your Paint Roller Immediately or Store it!

The reason why this has its own little section is because I see so many people letting good paint rollers go to waste because they don´t store or clean them right away.

So, right after you are done painting you should not do anything else until you either stored your paint roller in an airtight container or until you properly cleaned your paint roller. Most paint nowadays dries quite quickly so immediately after you are done painting either store your paint roller or clean it.

How to Know What Kind of Paint You are Using

Most people get confused quite quickly when they have to identify the type of paint they are using. There are two main types of paint. water-based and oil-based.

But how do you know if your paint is oil- or water-based?

Most of the time its simply written on the paint container itself.

But the most widely used paints are in the table down below, so you can refer to that in order to identify the type of paint that you are using.

PaintType
Latex PaintWater-based
Acrylic PaintWater-based
Enamel PaintOil-based
ShellacOil-based

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