Ultrasonic cleaners for air brush cleaning

Just a short question. I had one of those days where I made the airbrush stand in the naughty corner for a few hours. :shushing_face: Got one colour on then nothing would work on the second colour. I stripped my airbrush and found gunk in some of the remote corners. I thought it was clean!!

Question - Does anyone use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean their airbrush? Pros and cons.


I do use an ultra sonic cleaner every so often for my airbrush. I still needs to be stripped right down and sometimes a paint flake can block the gun afterwards. That said if paint has dried in the airbrush it is the only way I know to get at every nook and cranny. Remember you can only use water in the UV cleaner as a general rule. I put small parts in a sealed jar with an airbrush cleaning fluid.

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I use an ultrasonic cleaner on occasion . I spray airbrush cleaner between color changes and cleaner / lacquer thinner/ cleaner when done painting session. My Ultrasonic cleaner is an inexpensive unit from Harbor Freight but works fine.
No downside to using it .

Curious why you say only water should be used. I have used a mix of water and airbrush cleaner in mine for years with no issues of which I am aware, but I may have a blind spot.


If I find a need to use something stronger than water, I put the cleaner, usually laquer thinner, in a small jar and add the offending parts, I place the jar in my ultra sonic cleaner that has water in it. I then cycle through several cleaning cycles. The waves go through the jar into the cleaning solution.

Ultrasonics can cause finish loss and surface pitting on aluminum. An alternative for those materials is Simple Green. I use the purple Pro HD Heavy Duty cleaner. Let it soak.

I use a cheapie airbrush. If it gets ‘pitted’ no big deal. As long as the air brush is clean. At the moment I spend more time cleaning the darn thing than painting with it. Even then the thing clogs up.

I’m sure there is a big part of ‘me’ in my painting and the airbrush being naughty. But it’s just so frustrating that I thought an ultrasonic cleaner would make some sort of positive difference.


I think you may need to look to why it clogs so often - any cleaning method including ultrasonic is after the fact . Are you thinning the paint enough ? What size needle ? You may benefit from a larger orifice/ needle combination.

I use the ultrasonic every so often for a deep clean, especially with acrylics. I use a few 1/3 cupfulls of Simple Green detergent to enhance the cleaning action. I mainly use the machine to clean excess UV curing resin from 3D prints.

I think my issues are with thinning. I use 2 different Mig Ammo 1 shot colours. Sand/Flesh works like a dream. Brown oxide is a real PITA. They say not to thin it. I spray the Sand/Flesh straight from the bottle. The Brown Oxide wont spray from the bottle so it has to be thinned. But being thinned it can be almost transparent. Not always but 1 in 3 times it wont spray from the bottle. We live in the sub tropics so rule out getting thick due to the cold!!!

FWIW I’m trying to use a darker primer as a base for colour modulation!! Maybe my theory is wrong.


I also used an ultrasonic cleaner everytime I finish a kit. I use distilled water with a mix of degreaser and even a bit of ammonia. But usually, it’s enough just with the degreaser.

Same here. Using a small jar allows lacquer thinner or other solvents.

The only problem with pitting (aside from esthetics) is the roughened surface will allow paint to stick even better.

Just an update. I purchased a sub $100.00 ultrasonic cleaner. Today I painted my Tiger 1. First time with the airbrush in several weeks. I had put the gun away ‘clean’ as I usually do!! Manual cleaning was a pain that took too long IMHO. Today I finished painting. Within 5 minutes I had the gun dissembled and in the ultrasonic cleaner. Came out like new. If there’s any pitting I can’t see it and if over a 12 month period the guns is in the trash I’m ok with that as it’s a $35.00 gun.

So a big thumbs up from me for ultrasonic cleaners.

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Not using ammonia cleaners will stop the pitting for the most part.

TopSmith just plain ol water.


I drop my disassembled AB after every spray session in the ultrasonic with a drop of detergent, when I used acryllics (80% of the time). As soon as you hit the start button, you’ll see a cloud of pigment emerging from the parts…

I don’t recommend that for a ultrasonic cleaner as things can get hot.

I do use a cheap window cleaner (ammonia) to clean after airbrushing (I use Tamiya and Vallejo) to clean the gun out. My last step is fire 1/8 cup of IPA to remove any window cleaner and prevent pitting from standing ammonia.

And you’re not supposed to use ammonia as it ruins the finish and causes pitting, especially in the paint cup. I used to use an expensive ultrasonic cleaner in a surgical CSR, but that was for cleaning out dried blood and tissue bits from surgical equipment small parts, and we used a “special” cleaner - probably just water and detergent at exorbitant prices!

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