Quicker and easier way to clean glass pipettes?

I have just finished cleaning my glass pipettes from yesterday and before yesterday painting sessions of my Famo project. And I’m wondering, is there a faster way of cleaning my pipettes real good? I’m now using the brush that came with the pipettes, but it doesn’t clean the pipette all the way through. Especially around the tip area and where the fluid starts to enter the pipette. I’ve tried removing with a sharp cocktailstick with no result. And with cotton swaps. Which work reasonably well with cleaning the remaining paint residue out. But also doesn’t do all the way, for example the tip I mentioned earlier. And how frequent I have to clean those things. It would be very welcome to have an quicker and time saving way of doing this.

I use laquier thinner for those hard to reach places. I bought an ultra sonic cleaner and have a small glass jar (one for baby food) I put the laquier thinner in the jar. I add water to the ultrasonic cleaner, set the jar in the water. I put the items to clean into the jar of thinner and turn on the cleaner. I run it through several cycles and I am done. Works great on airbrush parts also.

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Perhaps I am not as green as I should be but why bother with the glass ones? I bought a bag of 1000 plastic ones on Amazon for like $5. I’ll reuse them on the same color. For example
I have one for primer I’ve been using for a while, but when I’m done they just get tossed


The ultrasonic cleaner tip above is a good one - also try old fashioned pipe cleaners if you can find them . When I ask for them in stores I get funny looks like I’m the world’s longest surviving crackhead.
I’d be inclined to try the disposable plastic ones as well .
I think it’s green enough when you consider the solvents and energy used in cleaning the glass ones .

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I use the plastic ones as well, they are called “pasteur pipettes” if you need to google them and they can be bought in bulk for next to nothing from chemistry suppliers!



A variant of pipe cleaners can be found on the shelf for toothbrushes and dental floss.
Miniature brushes for cleaning the gaps between the teeth (interdental brush?)
Lots of different variants, straight, angled, thin, thick, big handles or simply twisted wire.

Also useful for cleaning airbrush


I use a stock pipe cleaner

You can get them in lengths up to 12" (300mm?) for not too much money.

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After wetting it in thinners, try twisting and pulling the cotton swab to form a point on its end. This usually works well enough for me.

I don’t lose sleep over the tiny little ring of dried paint that collects right inside the opening where the glass has formed a small ridge.

Do I need an expensive one? What price range would I need to think of if I want to buy a good one for cleaning my pipettes, airbrush parts and even my glasses? Because I’m thinking it would be a great multipurpose device to have. It would also more justify the high costs maybe associated with the purchase.

I’ve found when I use the pipettes short after I have done one color with them. Cleaning them straight away and use them for another color right away. That colors begin to mix in the jars. Because of the residue in the tip left behind.

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I’ve bought glass ones to cut costs. Also on recommendation made here on a previous post I did. So no, I’m not going to buy disposable plastic ones anymore.

Fair enough!

I doubt it saves any real money though. The plastic ones are 5 cents each. I imagine you’re using more than 5 cents of thinner to clean the glass one, and then there is the time spent cleaning.

I have 1000 plastic ones in bag, I use maybe 3 per kit. So that is 333 kits worth of pipettes or approx 66 years worth at my build rate for $5


Well, I’m with Roland on this one. I’ve been using standard glass medicine (aka “eye”) droppers for ages (since in the '70s before you could even buy disposable plastic ones). I’ve been using them so long that I’ve actually noticed that it’s sometimes quite hard to even find the “old school” glass ones… LOL!

I have to say that I find the smaller glass droppers more convenient and precise for measuring small amounts of paint and thinners. For airbrushing, I’m usually mixing up quantities around 30-40 total drops or less. I’ll often mix up quantities as small as 15-20 total drops or even less to airbrush detail colors. The smaller medicine droppers just seem easier to use than the common larger vinyl plastic disposable droppers for this purpose.

Could just be old habit for me, but I use the ones I have until the rubber bulbs literally start cracking up with age. I’ve never really bothered to inventory them, but I suppose I’ve got some that are over a decade old.

I do have a bag or two of the disposable ones that I use for jobs that cleanup is problematic, and I’ll 'fess up that I’m not beyond grabbing one if I’m in a hurry and can’t lay my hands on one of my usual glass ones. They have their uses, but they’re not my usual “go to” measuring means.


Ditto on the glass droppers and the cracked rubber. Got my first ones from MicroMark back in the late 70’s early 80’s. Some are still in use.

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I think the last couple of packages that I bought (3 each in blister packs) were from the pharmacy in a large chain grocery store. They’re usually pretty easy to find in pharmacies, even the chain-ones that will pop up on all four corners of the same road intersection.

It’s been some years, though, since I bought any. The rubber bulbs generally grow old and start cracking and refusing to produce a vacuum long before the glass tubes have any sort of problem. I have managed to break one or two over the years (mostly be knocking one on the floor un-noticed and then either stepping on it or rolling my chair over it). I have also managed to drop one or two down into large cans of mineral spirits or lacquer thinner…

However, they do seem to pretty much last forever. Pop the rubber bulb off and clean out with a cotton swab and lacquer thinner, then drive on. I used to save the glass tubes when the rubber bulbs went bad to have spares if I broke one (put the rubber bulb from the broken one onto the old glass tube), but I brake so few of them, I’ve long since stopped doing that. I still have 3-4 old glass tubes on hand, but sometimes enough is just enough and you have to get rid of the clutter.

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Get a true ultra sonic cleaner. Get one sized for your application. You mentioned a pair of glasses so about 7 inches wide and 4 inches across and about 3 inches deep would be a good size.

I’m looking at Airbrush Services Almere to get one. € 145 is the model I’m considering. But they don’t have it in stock. :frowning:

I use glass pipettes for adding paint to my airbrush. I’ve found the easiest way to clean is with brushes designed for airbrush cleaning, similar to those Robin posted in an earlier reply. Just dip the brushes in airbrush cleaner, appropriate for the paint you’ve used and scrub through the pipettes. The thinner brushes work well with the narrower nozzle. Then rinse through with water. Takes less than a minute.

I keep some clean water to hand when airbrushing and use it to rinse out the paint from the pipettes (assuming of course I don’t need to add more paint of the same colour before finishing that airbrushing session).This will help ease of cleaning at the end as paint doesn’t have the chance to dry in the pipettes whilst I’m airbrushing. Assuming you use acrylics a rinse in this way first with water will mean less airbrush cleaner is needed. To clean at the end.