Question about washing painted models

I know the title sounds weird lol but hear me out! As my building and painting flow has advanced and I work on more complicated kits I find myself having more and more prepainted assemblies, be it cockpits, or lower hulls on tanks.

As the build progresses, often some sanding is required and general dust gets on the kit. Normally before painting I will wash the built kit to get dust and oils off. This is usually done with a soak in soapy water and a light clean with tooth brush. Now I am curious how best to clean models of things that will ruin paint, like dust, if the kit is already partially painted

For example, on my current build of a Hasegawa B6N I had to make some modifications to fit the wings in the extended position. This required some sanding and now I have a dusty kit. I could soak it, but the cockpit is painted, and I worry this will damage the paint. Any advice?

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Get a small spray bottle and spot wash so you can control it vs dunking it in water.


That or use damp cloth/wipe to clean. I would be concerned if dunked and paint type used. Plus if you had added any instrumentation decals and placards that are usually found in a cockpit generally speaking.

In the future depending on size etc, you can store subassemblies in a ziplock or sealed bin to protect til needed. I get that might be as helpful this time around with the work done.


I use both these techniques and they work great.

Microfiber cloths are also useful. I get the rougher texture ones that come in value packs at the grocery store, not the super fine and slick ones that come with sunglasses, etc.


You don’t say what kind of paint you use, but if it is completely dry a little water shouldn’t hurt it. Even dish-soap shouldn’t lift it. The real tricky bit is getting all the water out of the nooks & crannies - you may need to leave it a good week or more after rinsing before you do any more painting just to avoid surprises! (Esp. in a cockpit, where water droplets can hide behind seats and instrument panels…) Of course you can also do spot-cleaning with a damp cloth rather than soaking the whole kit, as the others have said. If you use any soap you need to make sure to rinse thoroughly with clean water, as the soapy film might affect future coats of paint…


How about just dusting with a large makeup type soft brush,and doing the nooks and crannies with a smalker soft brush

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Paint in the cockpit was tamiya over coated with dull coat. Rest of the kit is unpainted. I think I’ll go the spot clean route!

Need to get some good microfiber cloths though. All the ones I have are for glasses and as stated they are slippery and don’t really pick up moisture

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I take great pains to avoid this issue. I think that planning ahead and anticipating the potential problem is the key.

I generally try to do all my construction work in so far as cleaning up parts and making mods before I do any painting, and then wash all of the subassemblies and loose parts (that will be painted separately) at once. This is my normal procedure.

If I have to paint in stages (like interior areas), I try to mask those off after painting and before closing them up in a way that allows me to remove those masks later during final assembly. This at least gives me a fighting chance at keeping construction “schmutz” (a technical scale modeling term) out of those already finished areas. However, all of those model parts involved will have been washed beforehand to include the major subassembly involved.

As for the rest of the external areas that are still under construction, I will continue to build in subassemblies, only handling the major hull subassembly when absolutely necessary and only attaching those parts that are also necessary to progress. It’s already been washed, so as long as I keep the new parts clean and the major subassembly away from the building bench (either by distance or storing in a closed box unless needed), I minimize the potential problem of getting it dirty before continuing to paint it.

I’ll wash all of the other parts and subassemblies that are built in this stage before I paint them and do final assembly and final painting.

I do keep a couple of large soft bristle brushes set aside specifically for dusting parts and subassemblies during construction. I am very particular to keep any sort of potential oily or greasy contamination off of these brushes to avoid transferring that to the model parts.

Finally, I also use my air brush as a compressed air blower before I paint. I’ll simply blow the model down as well as possible using compressed air before spraying any paint. I also tend to use a cellulose solvent-based paint for the initial paint coats over subassemblies that I can’t wash again. My thinking is that the cellulose solvent-based paints will “bite” through any minor surface oils or release agents to serve as a good foundation for subsequent paints. Kind of like a primer, but not done as a separate and additional coat of paint.

So, if I’m careful, I minimize any potential problems by: Keeping the major subassembly away from (or protected from by placing in a box), unless needed, the work bench; Only attaching the minimum necessary parts when I do handle it; Dusting it off by brush and compressed air before I do paint it; Using cellulose solvent-based paint for the initial subsequent color coats when I paint it; Washing all of the other external subassemblies and separate parts before I paint them and do final assembly and overall painting.

Finally, I’ll mention that for me, I’ve tried to build while wearing nitril or rubber gloves to avoid fingerprint type contamination on subassemblies that I can’t later wash and have found that I just don’t have the sensitivity and other fine dexterity that need or want. So, although some modelers are good with wearing gloves to mitigate these types of problems, that just doesn’t work for me. I do occasionally wear nitril gloves when painting, but that’s mostly to protect me from the paint (overspray usually) and not to protect the model.


Probably the best way to avoid dust on painted parts is to not get dust on them in the first place. If you have painted assemblies, and you realize you have some potentially messy, or dusty, work to do, put the painted parts away or cover them up, put them in a box, etc. That will save extra work later, or even having to repair damage to fragile parts from cleaning.
:smiley: :canada: