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Ultrasonic Airbrush Cleaning Solution


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I'm trying to find a solution for the ultrasonic cleaner for my airbrushes that I'm happy with.  Back in a day, I used straight or 50% diluted Simple Green.  This worked fairly well, but either seemed weak if diluted or left a film on the airbrush.  And over time it seems to dull the metal parts, almost as if they were finely etched.  

 

I then moved on to 91% isopropanol.  This actually worked very well and didn't seem to affect the parts at all.  But it also probably isn't the best idea in an ultrasonic cleaner and is impossible to find in the pandemic.  It also evaporates relatively quick.  During heaving painting streaks it didn't feel so wasteful, but with more construction heavy periods it seemed to disappear at a wasteful rate.

 

So I tried the "magic formula" of 1/3 water, 1/3 Simple Green, and 1/3 original Windex.  Knowing the concern wit ammonia, I only left it in for short periods.  Usually just the 8 minute cycle, but occasionally an hour or two because I forgot or ran and did something.  This has only been recently and I've had to stop as it's quickly wearing the coatings on the metal parts.  Both anodized areas or chrome plated.   

 

These seem to be the major suggestions I've seen on the internet, other than purpose bought ultrasonic solutions that get pricey very quick.  So, any thoughts or advice on what to use?  I use primarily Tamiya and Gunze Acrylic Lacquers, but occasionally real lacquers like Alclad and/or Mr. Surfacer.  I always run some Simple Green or hardware lacquer thinner through and clean with some Q-tips.  So I've thought about as simple as plain water.  I appreciate any input, thank  you!

Edited by ESzczesniak
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I usually just use regular store bought lacquer thinner. I always empty out the thinner after I am done. I strain it through a paint strainer back into the container. I find it doesn't harm the finish of the airbrush, but it might damage the seals inside. Other than that, maybe give purple power a try. I have also had really good results with LA's Totally Awesome. I use this to strip paint from model car bodies and it doesn't harm the finish on the airbrush. Of course, always test it out first.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Of all the airbrushes Ive used over the past I dont know how many years Ive never seen one set of instructions that doesnt tell you not to immerse the airbrush in any kind of liquid...

 

I so of always took that to mean dont put it in a bath of anything.

Why do people these days think an ultrasonic cleaner is ok?

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I just run either thinner (for oils) or windex (for Vallejo) through it and wipe the needle. Every so often I will dissemble it, and thoroughly clean the little bits. I never immerse the main body, and all the little bits for no more than a few minutes. I have had it for about 6 years or so and I have had no issues with it. I have replaced the needled once(very recently) and otherwise it works great!

 

Sean

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1 hour ago, ElectroSoldier said:

Of all the airbrushes Ive used over the past I dont know how many years Ive never seen one set of instructions that doesnt tell you not to immerse the airbrush in any kind of liquid...

 

I so of always took that to mean dont put it in a bath of anything.

Why do people these days think an ultrasonic cleaner is ok?

 

This. I see no need to immerse an entire airbrush body in anything. I would just put the metal parts....needle, nozzle, spray head etc in the ultrasonic using whatever solution you want. Bear in mind that windex and other solutions containing ammonia can remove the chrome from parts like the paint cup. I have airbrushes that are 30+ years old, have never been immersed in anything and work just fine. The most critical part is the nozzle.

 

Bob

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On my Iwata Eclipse, I use distilled water and pull out the air valve. I immerse the body and run it for the max length of time. Knocks out all the bits that I miss when I strip the brush down and clean. YMMV.

 

Verb

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I dump the entire Airbrush in a jar of  lacquer thinners and place that in the tub of water. Give it about 5 mins in the ultrasonic and then pull it out and rinse and reassemble. I do this every 6-9 months . I'e been doing it for years and the airbrushes (Sparmax DH-103 and iwata HP-C plus) don't appear to be any worse for wear. The O ring in the air valve does swell a little but this does down after 10 mins or so 

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On 7/11/2020 at 7:31 PM, Bob Beary said:

 

This. I see no need to immerse an entire airbrush body in anything. I would just put the metal parts....needle, nozzle, spray head etc in the ultrasonic using whatever solution you want. Bear in mind that windex and other solutions containing ammonia can remove the chrome from parts like the paint cup. I have airbrushes that are 30+ years old, have never been immersed in anything and work just fine. The most critical part is the nozzle.

 

Bob

 Exactly.
Just whip the gubbins off and clean them.
If you must there is no reason they cant go into a bath but a long soak and a brush up is just as good. 

You have to remember just how close that needle fits into the nozzle. A soak and an interdental brush is more than enough... shaking the living daylights out of it ... i mean yeah sure why not.

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I use hardware store lacquer thinner for the first pass.  I put the lacquer thinner in a jar and add the airbrush parts that get paint build-up in them.  I put the jar in the ultrasonic cleaner in a bath of plain water.  After running that setup for a cycle or two, I add some cleaning fluid (this last time Mr. Clean was what I had handy), and put the airbrush parts in the water/cleaner bath.  I run the cleaner through another cycle or two, and a visible cloud of dissolved paint appears around the airbrush parts.  Normally, I use the longest cycle on my ultrasonic cleaner - 8 min.  I also only do this cleaning procedure every 6-8 weeks or if I start having problems with my airbrush.  When cleaning my airbrush during normal use, I first use 91% isopropyl alcohol or denatured alcohol for acrylic lacquers like Mr. Color, Tamiya, MRP and AK, and water for true acrylics such as Vallejo.  I then always finish up by running some hardware store lacquer thinner through my airbrush because it will break down any paint.

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