Do It Yourself: Cleaning And Storing Paint Rollers Properly

Simple do it yourself instructions to properly clean and store paint rollers for water-based and oil-based paint

When painting a room, a paint roller is a popular tool. They can cover a large area quickly and even a novice painter can quickly master the technique. Paint rollers can be used with extension handles to quickly enable you to paint a ceiling or an upper wall area without the use of a ladder. They can also be purchased in very small sizes to make rolling behind a bathroom fixture or radiator a breeze.

Many different sleeve coverings are available depending on the type of surface you are painting. Paint rollers are made of products from sheepskin to foam and are priced accordingly. Proper cleaning and storage of paint rollers will lengthen the life of your paint roller whether it's a top-quality, professional grade roller or a simple throw-away variety.

To properly clean a paint roller begin by removing any excess paint. Run the edge of a putty knife or a straight edge down the side of the roller cover. For a water-based latex paint, warm water and detergent will remove most of the paint from the roller. Begin by rinsing the roller under running water to remove as much paint as possible. Add a small amount of detergent and work into the nap of the roller. Rinse thoroughly under running water. Once the water runs clear, shake the roller vigorously and stand it on its end to dry.

If you have been painting with oil based paint, it will be necessary to use a paint solvent to clean the roller. Consult the paint can for the proper solvent and be sure and wear rubber gloves when cleaning with solvents to protect your skin. Use a shallow pan and about 2-3" of thinner to clear the roller of paint. Squeeze out excess solvent and shake the roller vigorously in a bucket to remove as much solvent as possible. Wash with detergent and water to completely remove the solvent. Rinse the roller thoroughly under running water. Squeeze out as much water as possible and stand the roller on its end to dry.

Most hardware stores carry a paint spinner which is a roller mechanism you attach to a power drill to spin the roller dry. Put the paint spinner down into a clean bucket and turn on the drill. The centrifugal force will spin any solvent from the roller and leave it fluffy and dry and ready to reuse.


To properly store a paint roller after it has been properly cleaned and allowed to air dry, encase it with plastic wrap or wax paper, tape it securely and store it standing vertically on its side.

If you have a large project and are going to be working on it for a few days, you can simply wrap the roller in plastic wrap or place it is in a zip lock bag. As long as it's airtight, the roller will be ready to use for up to a week.

A new paint roller tends to have excess fuzz. To remove it, wrap the roller with masking tape and pull it free. The tape will pull any excess fuzz away with it.

Oil based paint will give a smooth surface when a short pile roller is used. A long pile roller works well on rough textured surfaces. A general rule of thumb is the smoother the surface, the shorter the nap length.

To make cleanup easier, line your roller tray with a plastic tray liner or a piece of foil. Press the foil down into the roller tray and secure it tightly along the edges. When you are finished painting, simply roll up the liner or foil and throw it away.

© High Speed Ventures 2011