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How to Clean a Paint Palette

how to clean a paint palette

Painting is a fun activity, but cleaning up your mess after finishing the project is the most challenging part. In fact, the majority of painters do not like cleaning their paint palette after the work has been done. But how to clean a paint palette the right way? Please check out various tips and tricks below.

Tip No. 1: Cleaning the Palette Immediately

Whatever palette you are using or the paint medium you prefer, the most practical way is to clean the palette immediately. Doing this way will prevent the paint from drying into your palette. If you fail to do so and let the paint dry, cleaning the paint will be more difficult as the paint can get stuck on the palette.

Cleaning the palette is a job that most painters hate, but changing your perspective can go a long way. Start by convincing yourself to make it a habit to clean the palette every time the work is done. Another alternative is to use disposable palette sheets if you really do not like cleaning the palette.

Tip No. 2: Removing Acrylic Paint from Palette

Acrylic paint is popular among artists, and it is also a medium that is easy to remove from the palette. Acrylic paint is water-based paint, making it easy to remove from the palette using water. But, if you are using acrylic paint, avoiding porous palettes such as wooden palettes will make your life easier during the cleanup. A Ceramic, plastic, or glass palette is the best to use if you are using acrylic paint.

To clean acrylic paint from a palette, you can use a paper towel to remove the existing wet paint. After that, you can use water with soap and a sponge to wash off all the remaining paint found in the palette. The most important thing is not to allow the paint to dry for you to remove the paint easily.

Tip No. 3: Using an Acrylic Medium to Remove Dried Paint

It can be a challenge to clean the paint if it is already dried up on your palette. But there are things that you can use to help you get the job done effectively. One of which is an acrylic medium that will change the properties of the paint once it is applied.

You can brush a thin layer of acrylic medium to the paint and let it dry completely. Once it is completely dry, you can start peeling off one side of the paint to remove the paint along with the dried acrylic medium effectively. This method is only effective if you use a glass, plastic, or ceramic palette.

cleaning the palette immediately

Tip No. 4: Cleaning Oil Paint on Wood Palette

Oil paint has the tendency to stain a wooden palette if you allow it to dry and stay longer. Of course, you can control or minimize the use of the paint to reduce the cleaning you will do later. But the truth is, this situation is so unrealistic. It is better to learn how to clean the oil paint from a wood palette.

You will need a palette knife to remove all the paint on the palette. You can scrape it slowly until the majority of the paint will be removed. For those paint residues that remain, you can use a solvent to soften the paint residue.

After five minutes or so, you can use a paper towel to remove the remaining paint residue in the palette effectively. Consider repeating these steps if the remaining paint is not entirely removed. Once the palette is free from paint, you can rub linseed oil on the wood and dry it to finish the cleaning process.

Tip No. 5: Using Acetone to Remove Acrylic Paint in Palette

Many people are probably familiar with acetone as an effective way to remove nail polish. But this polish removal can also be used to remove acrylic paint from your palette effectively. Acetone has the property to thin out the paint on the palette, which effectively removes it from the surface.

However, this method is not as popular compared to the other methods above, but for sure, this can be done if you do not have other choices. I also do not like the strong smell it brings to you. However, for those stubborn paints that are difficult to remove, you can use the acetone by putting it in cotton and rubbing it in the area where you want to remove the paint. Expect the paint to come off quickly the moment you rub the acetone on the surface.

Tip No. 6: Soaking in Water

If you have a palette that has the ability to hold the water quickly, such as ceramics and plastic palettes, then this method can be very effective. What you do is submerge the palette into the water until such time that the paint will be removed. To prevent the palette from floating, you can use any material to put a weight on the palette and keep it submerged under the water.

For acrylic paint, warm water can make the paint peel off easily but make sure that the palette is submerged to be more effective. You will notice that the paint will begin to wrinkle, which is a sign that the paint has softened. You can use a putty knife to peel off the paint away from the palette.


Learning how to clean a paint palette is an essential skill that every aspiring painter must-have. I know a lot of experienced painters hate this job. But with the tips we presented above, cleaning the palette or brushes is easier if you have the habit of cleaning it immediately after your painting job is finished.

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