How to

How to clean a paint roller

With the right care, paint rollers can last a really long time. Looking after your paint roller and roller sleeves will not only save you money, but will help the environment by reducing the amount of waste you produce on the job.

With most painting projects, it’s likely you’ll need to stop for a break at some point in time. Make sure you stop painting at a natural end point in the wall like a corner or the end of a weatherboard. 

If you intend to go back to painting soon, keep the roller wet by submerging the roller head in the remaining paint in your roller tray, then put a reusable plastic bag around the entire roller tray and tie the handles together or use masking tape to seal it shut. This will prevent your roller from drying out and will keep it ready for painting, saving you from unnecessarily washing your roller and tray.  

When you’re finishing up the job and it’s time to clean out your roller, follow these steps to extend the life of your roller. Luckily, as Resene’s waterborne paints such as Resene Lumbersider Low Sheen and Resene SpaceCote are water based, cleaning your roller is a very simple process. Note: Traditional solventborne paints are very hard to remove from rollers and you may find you will need to throw away any rollers used with these types of paint because the old paint is too hard to remove.

To clean a roller follow our MasterStroke by Resene guide.


Scrape out excess paint

Hold the roller by its handle on an angle and use a roller cleaner or PAL Painters Multi Tool to scrape the excess paint out of the roller sleeve and into a painting tray. Murdo is cleaning a roller sleeve covered in Resene Savour.


Leave to soak

Place the roller into a bucket of cold water and leave to soak for a few hours.


Rinse under running water

Wash the roller under running water, pushing your fingers or the roller cleaner through the pile/nap of the roller sleeve. This process can take longer than you might think. “If you think it looks clean, it’s probably not,” says Murdo. Keep rinsing the roller until it’s clean. If in doubt, put it back in another bucket of clean water and leave to soak some more.


Allow sleeve to dry

Leave the sleeve to dry by standing it vertically on its end. If it’s going to be a long time before you reuse your roller, you may want to wrap your roller sleeve in cling film or a plastic bag to prevent dust or dirt getting into the fibres. It’s important to keep roller sleeves clean, because dirty paintbrushes and rollers can contaminate paints by introducing bacteria which can cause paint to go off.

Once your roller is clean, scrape any unused paint left on the paint tray back into the paint tin, then rinse the tray clean into the same water bucket used for the rollers. Use old newspaper or a cloth to dry it off, or let it dry off naturally.

Next you have to deal with the dirty paint water. Leave the bucket of paint wash water overnight to let the paint solids separate from the water and sink to the bottom of the container. The clear water from this container can then be poured down a sink inside the house, or onto grassed areas away from streams, rivers or lakes, where it can be absorbed into the ground. Never tip paint or paint wash water into a stormwater drain or waterway. 

When washing try to use the least amount of water you can.  Keep paint wash water away from kids and pets.

To dispose of the paint solids at the bottom of the container, scrape them onto old newspaper or rags and allow them to dry before disposing in the rubbish bin. 

Top tip:

Always rinse a paint roller sleeve under water before use to remove any loose fibres. If you’re not sure which type of roller sleeve to use for your project, ask the staff at your local Resene ColorShop.

About MasterStroke by Resene
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