How to Clean a Paint Roller

By Mark (Boise, ID)

An Old Painter’s Secret

When I first started painting, my dad owned this plastic box that connected to the sink or a hose that would spray a 9 inch fan of water in a line. The way this worked was you would take the roller cover still on the roller frame and stick it inside the box. The row of little jet stream of water would then spin the roller cover inside this little plastic box; so water and paint didn’t spray everywhere!
Cheap rollers

Whether or not you can picture this, it worked amazingly well! It allowed you to completely clean out a roller in 2 minutes! Well soon there after, the little plastic device developed a crack and eventually was no longer useable. So it was back to running water over the roller in the sink while you squeezed paint out of it for what seems like an eternity. Soon I got to the point where I decided it wasn’t even worth the time and frustration of cleaning them only to let them dry and find them later stiff from paint residue. I would simply find the cheapest roller covers I could find and simply throw them out after each use.

First: Get a quality roller

I did this for many years until a painter friend showed me a trick that will for ever change the way I paint with a roller. First of all you must begin by promising never ever to buy a cheap roller cover. Did you promise? Okay, you must now go buy a 1/2″ or 3/4″ lambs skin roller cover for somewhere between $15-$20 a pop. I know expensive right? If you were like me you became accustomed to buying the pack of 3 for about $6 right? Well this one lambs skin roller will give you more life than a dozen of those cheap rollers. You will paint faster and best of all, they are twice as easy to clean out!

Step 1 of 2

So now that you own a beautiful lambs skin roller, you will be tempted to sleep next to it its so soft and fluffy! But here is the real trick and what I have been building up for; after you have used your new roller and it is full of paint, you take your 5in1 and push out as much paint as you can with this tool just like you would with any other roller. Then you take the roller, on the frame with an extension pole (I make the assumption that you paint with your roller on a 3 – 6 foot extension pole as most painters do) and drop it in a 5 gallon bucket. Now you take a water source such as a hose and begin filling the bucket of water. Sometimes its easier to hold the hose between your legs while its filling the bucket so you can have two hands on the pole attached to the roller. Now that you have about a gallon of water in the bucket you begin to rapidly stir the roller in the water as if you are rowing up stream about to be sent over a giant water fall. Do this until the 5 gallon bucket is about half full.

Step 2 of 2

Now simply dump the 5 gallon bucket out and repeat 2 more times. Assuming you have the water on at a decent pace, this will take you a total of less than 2 minutes and your roller will be as clean as new! This is best done outside in the grass but can also be done inside using a large sink or another bucket of water that you have a friend pour in to the bucket while you row. Then to dry the roller out run it along the ground or on a fence at a good pace and it will spin it self dry. Let stand for a bit while it dries so it stays fluffed up and the next time you use it you will think you just pulled it out of the wrapper.

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