How to Clean a Spray Gun Between Coats: Pro Tips for Flawless Coats!


Achieve professional-quality paint and coating applications. Keeping a spray gun clean and working in between coats is essential. When you’re painting a car, doing a home improvement project, or doing art. It’s essential to know How to Clean a Spray Gun Between Coats. This will help you get consistent and smooth results.

This process not only prevents clogs and uneven finishes but also prolongs the life of your equipment. This guide will explore the steps and best practices for effectively cleaning a spray gun between coats. whether you’re using water-based or solvent-based paints.

So, let’s dive into the key techniques to keep your spray gun in top working condition and your project looking its best.

What Is a Spray Gun Between Coats, and How Many Types of Coats?

A spray gun between coats refers to the use of a paint spray gun or similar equipment during the intermediate stages of a painting project, specifically for applying additional coats or layers of paint, clear coat, or other coatings.

The purpose of using a spray gun between coats is to achieve a smooth and even finish, enhance color depth, and add protection or other desired effects to the surface being painted.

There are several types of spray guns that can be used between coats, and the choice of spray gun depends on the type of paint or coating, the project’s scale, and the desired finish. Some common types of spray guns used between coats include:

  1. Conventional Spray Guns
  2. HVLP (High Volume, Low Pressure) Spray Guns
  3. Airless Spray Guns
  4. LVLP (Low Volume, Low Pressure) Spray Guns
  5. Automotive Spray Guns
  6. Detail Spray Guns
  7. Texture Spray Guns

To get the best finish and most efficient work, you need to ensure that the spray gun fits the needs of your job.

Different Types of Spray Paint Coats

Type of Spray Paint Coat


Best Uses

Base Coat

Provides color and adhesion for subsequent coats.

Automotive painting, furniture refinishing.

Clear Coat

Transparent protective layer for gloss and durability.

Automotive clear coating, protecting artwork.

Primer Coat

Enhances adhesion and corrosion resistance. Smoothes the surface.

Preparing surfaces for painting, metal protection.

Top Coat

Final layer to seal and protect underlying coats. May include additional colors or effects.

Furniture finishing, artwork protection.

Intermediate Coat

Additional coats applied between base and clear coats for color effects or designs.

Custom automotive finishes, decorative arts.

Finish Coat

Final protective coat to seal and preserve the paint job. May include wax, sealant, or clear coating.

Sealing painted surfaces, protecting artwork.

How to Clean a Spray Gun Between Coats: Simple 10 Steps!

How to Clean a Spray Gun Between Coats 1
How to Clean a Spray Gun Between Coats

Cleaning a spray gun between coats is essential to ensure the quality of your paint job and to prevent clogs or contamination. The specific steps can vary depending on the type of paint you’re using (water-based or solvent-based), but here is a general guideline for cleaning a spray gun between coats:

Materials You’ll Need:

  1. Solvent or appropriate cleaning solution (e.g., mineral spirits for oil-based paints, water for water-based paints)
  2. An empty paint can or container for used solvent
  3. Cleaning brushes and tools
  4. Safety gear (gloves, goggles, respirator)

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process:

01. Prepare the Work Area:

Work in a well-ventilated area. Use appropriate safety gear, including gloves, goggles, and a respirator if necessary.

02. Release Pressure:

If your spray gun has an air pressure adjustment, turn it down to release any remaining pressure. Disconnect the gun from the air supply.

03. Empty the Paint Cup:

Empty any remaining paint from the cup into a designated waste container.

04. Disassemble the Spray Gun:

Carefully disassemble the spray gun following the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually, this means taking off the tip, needle, air cap, and any other parts that can be taken off. Place these parts in a clean, empty container.

05. Flush with Solvent:

Using an appropriate cleaning solvent, flush the spray gun’s components. Pour a small amount of solvent into the paint cup and spray it through the gun. This will help remove any residual paint.

06. Clean the Nozzle and Needle:

Use a cleaning brush or a soft cloth to clean the nozzle and needle thoroughly. Be gentle to avoid damaging these delicate parts.

07. Soak and Scrub:

Soak the removed parts in a container filled with cleaning solvent. After soaking, use cleaning brushes or tools to scrub away any remaining paint or residue.

08. Rinse and Repeat:

Rinse all the gun components with clean solvent until no traces of paint are visible. For exact instructions on how to clean your spray gun model, look at the instructions that came with it.

09. Reassemble the Spray Gun:

Reassemble the spray gun, ensuring all parts are properly fitted and tightened.

10. Test Spray:

Do a test spray with the gun before using it for the next coat to make sure it works right and there is no dirt or paint left over.

11. Dispose of Solvent Properly:

As required by local environmental laws, get rid of the used cleaning solvent and any paint trash.

When cleaning your spray gun, you should always follow the manufacturer's directions. Each model may have different cleaning needs. Also, be careful when working with cleaning solvents, and ensure enough airflow and safety measures are in place.

What to Do with Paint Sprayer in Between Coats?

In between coats when using a paint sprayer, it’s important to take certain steps to ensure the equipment and paint stay in good condition and that the subsequent coats go on smoothly. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Clean the Nozzle and Filter: After finishing each coat, detach the nozzle and clean it carefully using an appropriate cleaning solution or solvent
  2. Empty the Paint Cup: If there is a lot of paint left in the paint cup, you might want to put it into the original paint container so that you don’t waste paint.
  3. Cover the Paint Cup: Put a wet cloth over the paint cup if you’re going to take a short break between coats. This will keep the paint from drying and clogging the sprayer.
  4. Flush the Sprayer: If you anticipate a longer break between coats or if you’re finished for the day, it’s a good practice to flush the sprayer with an appropriate cleaning solution or solvent.
  5. Clean the Lines and Filters: Periodically, depending on the paint you’re using, you may need to clean the paint lines and any additional filters in your sprayer.
  6. Check for Leaks: After each coat or periodically during your painting session, check for any leaks or issues with the sprayer.
  7. Keep Safety Precautions: While handling the sprayer between coats, maintain proper safety precautions.
  8. Stay Organized: Label paint containers and keep them organized, especially if you’re using multiple colors or types of paint during your project.
It's important to keep your paint sprayer in good shape so that it doesn't get stuck and each coat goes on quickly. Take care of your paint sprayer and clean it up regularly.

Can I Leave Paint in the Sprayer Between Coats?

Leaving paint in a sprayer between coats is feasible if you plan to resume painting within a day or so and take measures to prevent the paint from drying inside the equipment. However, several factors come into play.

It depends on the type of paint. When it comes to this, water-based paints are more flexible than oil-based ones. Proper storage conditions, like keeping the paint somewhere cool and dry, are very important for keeping its stability.

The way your sprayer is made can also affect how well it works during short breaks without getting clogged or drying out. Ensure the bottle is tightly sealed to keep the paint from drying out. You could use plastic wrap or a plastic bag to do this. You can also put the squirt gun in water, solvent, or the right paint thinner. Before starting work again, you should always do a test spray to look for problems.

In order to keep the equipment in good shape and avoid long-term damage, it is strongly suggested that you clean the sprayer carefully after each painting job. If you leave paint in the gun for a long time, especially oil-based paints, it can be hard to clean and even cause damage.

Can You Clean the Spray Gun with Water?

Yes, you can clean a spray gun with water, but the suitability of water for cleaning depends on the type of paint you are using. Water-based paints are easily cleaned with water. After using water-based paint in your spray gun, you can flush the system with clean water to remove residual paint.

However, if you are working with oil-based paints or other solvents, you should not use water for cleaning, as it won’t effectively remove these paint types. In such cases, you should use the appropriate solvent or thinner recommended for cleaning the specific type of paint.

Always consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for your spray gun and the paint to ensure you use the correct cleaning method. Proper cleaning is essential to maintain the longevity and performance of your spray gun.

FAQ’s on How to Clean a Spray Gun Between Coats:

Q1: How to clean a spray gun between coats on a car?

A1: Cleaning a spray gun between coats on a car involves disassembling the gun, flushing it with the appropriate solvent or cleaner, and thoroughly cleaning the nozzle and other components. It’s essential to prevent clogs and maintain a high-quality paint job.

Q2: How to clean a spray gun with water-based paint?

A2: To clean a spray gun used with water-based paint, flush the system with clean water immediately after use. Make sure to remove all traces of the paint from the gun’s components to prevent clogs and contamination.

Q3: Can I use paint thinner to clean a spray gun?

A3: Yes, you can use paint thinner to clean a spray gun, particularly when working with oil-based or solvent-based paints. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type of paint thinner to use and proper cleaning procedures.

Q4: How long should I wait between base coats in automotive painting?

A4: The recommended wait time between base coats in automotive painting depends on temperature, humidity, and the specific paint product used. Typically, you may wait 10-15 minutes between base coats.

Q5: How do I clean a spray gun nozzle effectively?

A5: To clean a spray gun nozzle effectively, remove it from the gun, use a cleaning brush or a soft cloth to remove any paint or residue, and soak it in the appropriate cleaning solvent. Scrub any remaining paint and ensure it’s thoroughly cleaned before reassembling the gun.

Q6: What’s the maximum time I can wait between applying base coats in automotive painting?

A6: The maximum time you can wait between applying base coats in automotive painting depends on factors like paint type, temperature, and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Generally, it’s best to follow the paint manufacturer’s guidelines, but it’s often advised to apply additional coats within 24 hours to ensure proper adhesion.

Q7: What solvent should I use to clean HVLP spray guns?

A7: The solvent you should use to clean HVLP (High Volume, Low Pressure) spray guns depends on the type of paint you’ve used. For water-based paint, water is suitable. For oil-based or solvent-based paints, use the recommended paint thinner or solvent, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Q8: How can I clean a paint gun with dried paint?

A8: Cleaning a paint gun with dried paint can be challenging. Soak the components in the appropriate solvent or thinner for an extended period, then use cleaning brushes and tools to scrub away the dried paint. It may take time and patience, but thorough cleaning is crucial to restore the spray gun’s functionality.


Learning how to clean your spray gun between coats is very helpful for people who paint or coat things. Keeping your spray gun clean not only makes the finish look smooth and professional but also makes the gun last longer. By following the proper cleaning procedures and choosing the suitable cleaning solvents. Also, you can keep your spray gun in great shape by following the manufacturer’s instructions.

It doesn’t matter if you use solvent-based or water-based paints. Be careful how you clean to avoid paint buildup, contaminants, and clogs. As you improve at this vital step, Your projects will look better and go more smoothly. This will save you time and money in the long run.

You can only get great, professional results if you clean your spray gun between coats. This is true whether you’re painting your car, making your house look better, or creating art.

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