Fouled air brush, really foul

Wow, I just did a deep clean on my air brush (my first airbrush, an Iwata Revolution) and kind of couldn’t believe it. Periodically I do a deep clean, take it all apart, make sure it’s all clean, put it back together, voila! This time, when I pulled the trigger out it was fouled with fiber with sticky paint all over it. And I got to looking inside and there was a ton of this fiber stuff jammed up in there. I guess it came from using pipe cleaners, but i can’t imagine how that much of it got in there. So, do people not use pipe cleaners, or has anyone had a similar experience. I have a wire brush kit made for cleaning airbrushes and I broke it out and together with tweezers and a lot of lacquer got all that stuff out (I think but I’m not really sure).

Anyone had a similar experience?

Yeah…I used to think pipe cleaners were a good idea, too, until I started having similar experiences as you. I don’t use pipe cleaners anymore! :blush: Now I use a tiny brush.
:grin: :canada:

Unfortunately it’s difficult to buy really good quality pipe cleaners anymore. Nowadays, if you want pipe cleaners that are actually usable, you have to buy the ones MADE for pipe cleaning. Back in the day they used long wool fibers but now the manmade fibers are short and barely held in the twisted wire. They seem more about looks and almost not at all about actually using them to clean something.

I clean firearms a lot, and pipe cleaners are one of the stand-by supplies. Modern made ones from the craft store are just about worthless for actually using. I search out and buy pipe cleaners now from specialty shops that cater to pipe smokers.

Do a little research on them, and you can find the “real deal” pipe cleaners from many on-line sources. Alternatively, you can visit a tobacconist shop to buy the good ones.

Now, having said all of this, I don’t actually use pipe cleaners on my airbrushes. I always worry about the potential for abrasion from the twisted wires. I do use the small “inter-dental” brushes that look like micro-pipe cleaners, though.

1 Like

All this talk of fouled airbrush has sent me into a panic so i have ordered an airbrush cleaning kit from Mr Bezos :grin: … always be prepared :+1:

I don’t use pipe cleaners or a brush. I use Windex and a Q-Tip to scrub when I fully disassemble my Iwata.

Despite all those advertised “Airbrush Cleaning Solutions,” I find that Windex is the best in dissolving practically all acrylic paint—and it’s plentiful and cheap too. Fears of it eating the inner rubber seals are unfounded for me because Windex can go on a car’s windshield and the wipers are rubber.

Iwata’s chrome is pretty rugged…thick and sturdy and so is its interior. Harder&Steenbeck’s chrome is very thin and fragile and even setting it down inside a concrete laundry sink dings and dents the chrome! Iwata doesn’t have that problem, but Iwatas are so precise and harder the disassemble than Harder&Steenbeck airbrushes.

The pipe cleaners I have now are very long ones bought at a craft store but shed the bristles very easily so I’m very careful about putting them in my airbrush.I’ve found clumps of them in my airbrush in the past and use them more carefully. I do use q-tips as well where I can.

The tech at Iwata told me the problem with Windex is the ammonia which attacks/ reacts with the chrome.

1 Like

Not trying to suggest to go buy a bunch of stuff but the little brushes you get in the airbrush maintenance kit work well. I also use an ultrasonic cleaner which also is a big help.

This right here for my Harder and Steenbeck. They come in all different sizes but are short. I’ll probably invest in some longer purpose made airbrush cleaning brushes eventually.

1 Like

Just wanted to add that if you Google ‘micro brushes’ you get these neat little toothpick kind of things that are perfect for airbrushes.

One bit of cleaning kit I find really superb is ‘Premi-Air Foaming Airbrush Cleaner’- it really gets the crud out!

Well my brush set came.

Was cheap on Amz for just over a fiver

Stripped an old airbrush down and tested it, all worked great.

This is on the brush I use now.

The evil spike thing is good, used in the nozzle and it cleared out a bit dried crud.

The left hand first 4 long thin rods as you look at it have all been used in various areas.

As have the brushes, the 4 smaller ones have all been used to varying degrees

And yes, that is a gas plug wire brush from my rifle cleaning kit I use here as well :grin:

Definitely worth the £5 to keep the airbrush clean.


Good to know. Might have to give it a go. That spike like brush looks like a chamber brush for an M16-M4 receiver.

1 Like

I should imagine most rifle cleaning kits have parts that look similar to other countries…

I got a similar looking thing- called a ‘reamer’ I believe- and it damaged the nozzle of one of my airbrushes that required a replacement so be careful with it. I don’t use it anymore because of that incident- the nozzles are worth more than the reamer!

1 Like

Am I the only one for whom Mr Finishing Surfacer Black fouls their airbrush?

I can run just about anything through my airbrush, but if the last thing I use in a session is Mr Finishing Surfacer, I’ll have to take it apart and clean it before the next session. None of the other Mr Surfacer products cause this, fwiw…

This is Iwata’s cleaning kit. You can see what components you would need (besides an ultrasonic cleaner)

This is the Iwata airbrush Maintenace kit. You can see the types of tools that would be useful.

1 Like

I have known about the propensity of ammonia to attack brass for years - I was unaware that it also can harm chrome . That being said I have used Windex for as long as I remember and still do with no apparent harm to my airbrushes - Badger and Iwata. My routine after every session is spray Windex through twice then hardware store lacquer thinner twice then the so called “ airbrush cleaner “ once . This last step is for the claimed lubricant benefit. Every so often I disassemble and soak in lacquer thinner then a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner then reassemble with airbrush lube on needle and trigger bits . I mostly spray Tamiya acrylic and Mr Color lacquer thinned 50/50 with leveling lacquer thinner. I almost never have any problems . In the past I would occasionally get clogs from Stynylrez but since going to a brush with a .5 needle that almost never happens.

Yeap thats a good kit to have though I don’t rate the pipe-cleaners much as they seem to shed their bristles a lot.

I have the kit but have not used the pipe cleaners. I “assume” that they are of the better quality.

The pipe cleaners work in my Iwata Revolution but not in my Iwata HP-CH.