New users who stick with airbrushing have two things in common:
They learn how to clean their airbrush properly.
And they clean with the right tools.
These three videos from our QuickTech Experience Playlist will show you how to use the Iwata Cleaning Kit to perform three levels of cleaning: quick clean, end of spray session clean and a deep clean. We use a gravity feed airbrush for these videos but these techniques can be adapted to virtually any airbrush model.
Quick Color Change
It is important to make sure your airbrush’s color cup is clean before changing colors. This is especially true when switching between colors that are on the opposite side of the color wheel, like yellow and violet. In this video we show you how to perform a quick color change with a gravity feed airbrush. If you are spraying a color with a high pigment load like white, you may have to flush your color cup several times before you are ready to change over to the next color.
End of Spray Session
To have a great airbrush experience every time, its important to clean your airbrush at the end of each spray session. In this video we show you step by step how to clean a gravity feed airbrush using our Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Kit. Follow this cleaning routine and your airbrush will be ready to use the next time you pick it up to paint.
Sometimes airbrushes have problems. You might see bubbles in the color cup, a diminished spray pattern or maybe your airbrush won’t spray at all. Luckily most airbrush problems can be resolved with a thorough cleaning session. In this video you'll learn how to deep clean an airbrush so you can get back to spraying again.
You’ll see in the video that we soak the nozzle, nozzle cap and needle cap in Medea Airbrush Cleaner. This helps break up dried paint and makes it easier to scrub off. But please do not soak, immerse or “wet dock” your entire airbrush in any liquid. Ever. This can cause more problems than it solves.
Use caution when removing and reinserting your airbrush nozzle. We recommend using our Nozzle Wrench (available as part of the Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Kit and the Iwata Professional Maintenance Tools or sold separately as part CLNW1). If you are using the small spanner that was included with your airbrush or another tool, take extra care not to over-tighten as this can cause this delicate part to break.
Do you have an Eclipse CS? We made a video just for this airbrush since it has an unique compression fit nozzle. Check it out in our QuickTech Experience Playlist.
Prefer a step by step airbrush cleaning guide?
Here's what you need to know…
The airbrush needs to be cleaned only in areas which come in contact with paint The paint flows from the paint reservoir into the airbrush, around the tip of the needle and out through the head assembly. These areas must be kept clean for optimum performance of the airbrush.
Follow these recommendations…
Have a great airbrush experience every time you spray by cleaning your airbrush regularly and before paint dries.
Do a quick paint flush (step 1) between color changes. If you're ending a paint session complete steps 1 and 2. Proceed with steps 3-8 if your airbrush is clogged, spraying unevenly or to prevent paint build-up.
1. PAINT FLUSH - DO BETWEEN COLOR CHANGES AND AT THE END OF A PAINT SESSION
For Gravity Feed Airbrushes:
1a. Remove cup lid (if present) and dump out excess paint from color cup.
1b. Alternate between using the Iwata Washing Brush with Medea Airbrush Cleaner (or appropriate cleaner) and wiping the cup out with the Artool Studio Wipes.
1c. Spray the cleaner or water through the airbrush until it sprays clear. Spray into a spray out pot or paper towel.
For Siphon Feed Airbrushes:
1a. Remove paint bottle from bottom of airbrush.
1b. Fill a clean bottle (not included) with Medea Airbrush Cleaner (or appropriate cleaner) and attach it to the airbrush.
1c. Spray the cleaner or water through the airbrush until it sprays clear. Spray into a Spray Out Pot or paper towel.
For a quick paint flush use the Medea Airbrush Cleaner With 360 Nozzle (not included).
Continue airbrushing with a new color. If ending an airbrush session, move on to step 2.
2. REMOVE AND CLEAN THE NEEDLE
Disconnect the airbrush from the air source.
2a. Unscrew and remove the back handle. Place your handle on a safe surface such as the Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Mat with its raised ridge which keeps parts from rolling away.
2b. Loosen the needle chucking nut by hand.
2c. Pull the needle out. Needles are extremely sharp and delicate. Be careful not to drop or damage your needle while cleaning.
2d. Clean the needle with the Artool Studio Wipes by wiping only towards the sharp needle point. Only wipe the needle in a back to front direction so as not to puncture yourself.
If your airbrush is clogged, spraying unevenly or to prevent paint build-up:
Leave the airbrush disassembled. Place the needle on a safe surface like the Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Mat and continue on to steps 3-8.
If you are ending an airbrush session:
Gently push the needle back into place. The needle is fully seated when it comes to a complete stop. Tighten the needle chucking nut. Reassemble the airbrush and connect your air source. To make sure your needle is fully seated, fill the color cup or a bottle with water and push the main lever down only to test for air. If water sprays out your needle is not fully seated. Water should only spray when you pull the trigger back (turn the fluid adjustment knob if single-action airbrush). Tighten the needle chucking nut if no water sprays. If not working properly, check assembly and go through all of the cleaning instructions.
3. REMOVE THE NOZZLE
To reveal the nozzle (4), unscrew the needle cap (1) and nozzle cap (2) by hand. For the Iwata Eclipse airbrushes, remove the nozzle head cap (3) with the nozzle head cap wrench (included with the airbrush).
For Iwata Eclipse airbrushes (compression fit nozzle):
The nozzle (4) for the Eclipse BS, SBS and CS is a set and SHOULD NEVER BE SEPARATED.
DO NOT USE the Iwata Nozzle Wrench on compression fit nozzles.
3a. The nozzle is compression fit into the airbrush body. To remove, press against body of nozzle at an angle. Check inside the nozzle head cap if nozzle appears to be missing. Use the blunt end of the needle to remove.
For airbrushes with a threaded nozzle:
3a. Place the Iwata Nozzle Wrench* over the flat sides of the threaded nozzle base and turn left to unscrew.
*The Iwata Nozzle Wrench fits all Iwata and NEO airbrushes excluding the Iwata Eclipse Series and the NEO TRN2 Side-Feed Trigger Airbrush.
4. CLEAN THE NOZZLE AND CAPS
4a. To loosen paint, soak your nozzle, needle cap, nozzle head cap (if compression nozzle) and nozzle cap in Medea Airbrush Cleaner (or solvent) for NO MORE than 10 minutes.
NEVER soak your entire airbrush in liquid. Never store your airbrush with spray medium or cleaning agents in the fluid cup.
4b. Using an extra small cleaning brush dipped in Medea Airbrush Cleaner, scrub your nozzle, needle cap, nozzle head cap (if compression nozzle) and nozzle cap.
WARNING: Nozzle contains Nickle.
5. CLEAN THE PAINT PASSAGE
5a. Dip an extra small cleaning brush or pipe cleaner into a small cup of Medea Airbrush Cleaner.
5b. For gravity-feed airbrushes, push cleaning brush down into the color cup paint passage towards the front of the airbrush (1). For bottom-feed airbrushes, push pipe cleaner or cleaning brush up into bottle joint, deep toward the front of the airbrush (2). Scrub back and forth, twisting in and out. Repeat until there is no paint debris on the brush or pipe cleaner.
5c. Use the cleaning brush or pipe cleaner dipped in Medea Airbrush Cleaner to clean the paint passage from the front of the airbrush (3 and 4). Clean until there is no paint debris on the brush or pipe cleaner.
6. CHECK PARTS AND PASSAGE FOR DAMAGE AND PAINT DEBRIS
The Iwata LED Magnifier has 2 levels of magnification plus white and blue LED lights. Use it to:
- Look at your nozzle for cracks or dents or to check for distortion.
- See if you have a bent needle.
- Check for paint debris inside airbrush paint passages.
If parts are damaged you will need to reorder that specific part. Contact your Iwata retailer to order. If you are airbrushing often, you may want to have an extra needle and nozzle as these parts can be damaged easily.
7. CLEAN THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR AIRBRUSH
Clean the outside of your airbrush with the Artool Studio Wipes. Use a pipe cleaner dipped in Medea Airbrush Cleaner to clean tight areas where paint can build up.
8. REASSEMBLE AND LUBRICATE THE AIRBRUSH
For airbrushes with a threaded nozzle:
8a. Screw the nozzle back onto the airbrush with the Iwata Nozzle Wrench. Make sure nozzle is snug. Do not over tighten. Hand tighten the nozzle cap and needle
For Iwata Eclipse airbrushes (compression nozzle):
8a. Place nozzle into airbrush head base. Screw on nozzle head cap and gently tighten with head cap wrench*. Hand tighten nozzle cap and needle cap.
*The nozzle head cap compresses nozzle to airbrush. Make sure nozzle head cap is snug. Do not over tighten.
OPTIONAL LUBRICATION: Iwata Lube is not necessary every time you clean your airbrush.
If your main lever is slow to rise, lubricate the air valve O-ring: Make sure handle and needle are still removed from the airbrush.
Depress main lever and pull back, apply only one drop of Iwata Lube to the base of main lever stem.
Move onto 8b.
If your main lever does not move backward and forward smoothly, lubricate the needle packing:
Make sure handle and needle are still removed from the airbrush.
Place only one drop of Iwata Lube where the taper of the needle begins and spread evenly around tapered edge.
Move onto 8b.
8b. With main lever depressed, gently re-insert the needle so as not to damage the sharp tip. The needle is fully seated when it comes to a complete stop. Do not use excessive force.
8c. Tighten the needle chucking nut by hand to hold needle in place. Do not over tighten.
8d. Screw the handle back on to the airbrush.
9. TEST YOUR AIRBRUSH
Once reassembled, connect your air source, fill the color cup or a bottle with water and push the main lever down only to test for air. If water sprays out your needle is not fully seated. Water should only spray when you pull the main lever back (turn the fluid adjustment knob if single action airbrush). Tighten the needle chucking nut if no water sprays. If not working properly, check assembly and go through all of the cleaning instructions.