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FAQs – Airbrush Maintenance and Cleaning


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why should I use SuperLube?
A: When you’re using a substance to lubricate your airbrush needle you run the danger of some of that substance getting into the spray and onto your project (that’s why you only need a little bit). The question is what will happen when that greasy substance reacts with your paint. SuperLube doesn’t like to react with oil-based or water-based paints – that’s why we recommend it – we know what it will do. If you use an oil-based lube it might react with your acrylic paints (it’ll mix like oil and water).

Q: Why do I need to lubricate the needle?
A: The needle doesn’t really need the lube rather the needle in turn lubricates a little o-ring deep in the body of the brush that prevents blowback. It’s really rather small so it doesn’t need much lube and it only needs to be lubed every now and then.

Q: Are airbrushes hard to keep clean?
A: No, it’s quite a simple task, though it might be difficult at first. Develop a regular maintenance habit of rinsing the airbrush with the appropriate cleaning agent for the material being sprayed between color changes. Thoroughly clean your airbrush at the end of the workday. Check out the appropriate cleaning guide for your brush here.

Q: How do I rinse my airbrush?
A: To rinse out the airbrush, simply flush it with the appropriate paint cleaning agent – Medea Airbrush Cleaner for water-based paints and paint thinner for oil-based paints. Never immerse or soak an entire airbrush. When using flammable cleaners never flush the airbrush near an open flame or lose electrical wiring and always flush the cleaner into an appropriate container to deal with these materials.

Q: How often should I rinse my airbrush?
A: You should rinse out the airbrush generally in-between color changes, before taking a break, and at the end of the day. Here’s why – wet materials clean up easier than dry materials. Rinse it while it’s wet and you won’t have to do a thorough cleaning as often when it’s dry. Rinsing between color changes is a maybe. If you’re blending colors and working from light to dark then chances are good that you won’t have to rinse. If you need a pure color then you will have to rinse out your airbrush.

Q: How often should I thoroughly clean my airbrush?
A: It’s easy to say that you should clean your airbrush at the end of each workday; however, you should thoroughly clean the airbrush when the inevitable buildup of dried paint begins to interfere with normal operation. For some people this is once a week, for others, it’s once a day. It should be noted that regular and timely rinsing of wet paint with the appropriate cleaner will lengthen the amount of time between thorough cleanings. In short, rinsing more means cleaning less.

Q: When I’m thoroughly cleaning out my airbrush why should I use a solvent?
A: Solvents quickly break up the molecular bonds paint forms when it dries. We recommend acetone or lacquer thinner as solvents, but stay away from paint thinner – paint thinner, in our experience, doesn’t seem to work well cleaning airbrushes. WARNING: DO NOT SOAK YOUR AIRBRUSH OR AIRBRUSH COMPONENTS IN SOLVENT. There are parts and greases in other areas of the airbrush that don’t take kindly to it. With that said, you should generally use only as much solvent as can be held in a cotton swab or in a pipe-cleaner. WARNING: SOLVENTS ARE FLAMMABLE AND TOXIC. DO NOT SPRAY SOLVENT-BASED CLEANER THROUGH THE AIRBRUSH.

Q: What about Medea Airbrush Cleaner? Can I use it to clean out my airbrush instead of solvent?
A: There’s a saying-“the right tool for the right job”. Medea Airbrush Cleaner is great stuff and it works really well on wet paints and materials. Paint is a suspension of pigment in an adhesive substance. When the adhesive is wet you can wash it off with soapy water-when it is dry, you need something to dissolve the molecular bonds the adhesive creates. This is where solvents such as acetone or lacquer thinner come into play.

Q: Why should I buy the expensive pipe cleaners?
A: For the price of 50 cents you too can keep your sanity during a thorough airbrush cleaning, but wait, there’s a noticeable lack of detached cotton fibers that will plug up your brush at odd moments. And last, but not the least, you too can keep those pipe cleaners from breaking in the most inopportune of places. That, and we here in the tech support department have a small fortune invested in the pipe cleaner industry. We really would like to see some returns on those investments. The cost of keeping your sanity at your location may vary. The real reason we say “expensive” pipe cleaners is to keep you from buying the craft items, the colored stuff that children make fuzzy reindeer ornaments out of during the holiday season. Craft items might melt in solvent.

Q: Could I use a small brush instead of pipe cleaners?
A: Yes! In fact that’s a great thing to do. You can use an interdental brush in many of the places that you regularly use pipe cleaners. However, there are still times when you’ll need a pipe cleaner, so you can’t eliminate the need for them entirely. Incidentally, we know that Oral-B interdental brushes don’t melt in lacquer thinner.

Q: Why do the cleaning and maintenance guides exist?
A: Most of the problems we encounter here in the customer service and technical support department deal with poor cleaning and maintenance. The whole point is that we’re trying to help as many people as efficiently as possible. Cleaning is the biggest problem that most airbrush users have to deal with; it’s also the biggest reason why many new airbrush users give up.

Q: I don’t see my question listed here? What do I do now?
A: You can e-mail your question to us at info@iwata-medea.com.


Why are there no prices on your website?

Iwata Medea is the wholesale distributor of Iwata, Medea and Artool products in North and South America, and the UK, and does not sell directly to customers at this time. To purchase Iwata Medea or Artool products, please check our dealer pages for a reseller near you. Or call our customer service team at 503-253-7308 ext. 2000, and we’ll help you find a local reseller.