How to Reuse Paint Rollers

Whether you are painting the nursery for your soon to be son or daughter, or painting a house that was just built, your paint roller is going to be your main tool. What if you want to reuse your roller?

Here’s what you’ll need to know about reusing Paint Rollers

  • How to clean your paint roller
  • How to keep your paint roller fresh and ready to use
  • How to preserve your paint roller

There are a lot of varying tips that can help with this. They also include different types of rollers and paints. Today, we’ll be taking a look at various ways to help keep your roller reusable and much more.

Different Ways to Keep Your Roller Reusable

There are many ways to keep your roller reusable and clean for future uses. Cleaning happens to be one of the biggest things you’ll need to learn if you want to be able to use your roller again. Of course, you know that, but do you know how to clean your roller properly? Do you know how to clean your roller after using different kinds of paints or what to clean it with?

You should also know that there are ways to keep your paint roller reusable if you don’t take more than four days of a break at a time while on a project. This includes large as well as small projects.

There are different ways to clean both nap paint rollers and foam paint rollers. You can even clean old ones that have been sitting for months. First, let’s go over the basic cleaning process for both types of rollers on the two major types of paints.

Cleaning Your Roller

Let’s learn here how to clean your roller. First off, there are different rollers that you’ll need to know how to clean. There are two main different rollers, the nap paint roller, and the foam paint roller. There are different steps on how to clean these so make sure you take down notes, so you don’t get confused about the different ways to clean them.

How to Clean a Nap Roller

Latex paint is a paint that is either latex, water-based acrylic, or vinyl styrene paint. They can cling to nap paint rollers very well after being used. They can be quite a pain in the butt when trying to clean them, but if you stick to these steps, you for sure will get them clean enough to be able to use again.

Step 1: Rolling the Paint Off

When doing this, you’ll need to find something that you can roll as much paint on as you can. If you are in mid-project and are using the same color for a big piece of it, roll as much of the paint on the surface as you can. Doing this will help the cleaning process overall. When you have a nap roller the paint will cling the fabric of it together, making it harder for the paint to get off.

Step 2: Scrape the Paint Roller

Grab something you can use to scrape your paint roller with, but make sure that it won’t cut into the roller. Take the scraper and scrape the tips and edges of the roller where the paint has dried. Chunks and globs of paint may have dried on it. Doing this will make the washing process take less time.

Step 3: Washing the Paint Roller

Before you wash your paint roller, know that to do it the best, you will first need a few things. If you are using a sink, you won’t need any extra containers. If you aren’t using a sink, then you will need two containers. Make sure that your containers are large enough that your paint rollers can fit in them.

If you are using two containers, then fill the first one with warm water and dish soap. Fill the second one with warm water only. Take your paint roller of the handle so that you have only the roller. Put it in the container with the soap and water and rub off the paint with your hand. Keep rubbing it till the paint seem to be off the roller. Then put it in the other container to rinse it.

If you are using a sink, close the drain so that you can fill it. Then fill it with warm water and soap. Clean off the paint while it is in the warm, soapy water. Once you are sure that you have gotten as much paint off as you can, drain the water and rinse the paint roller with warm water. Keep repeating the process until your roller is fully clean.

Step 4: Dry the Paint Roller

Lightly squeeze your roller once you have finished rinsing it so that it isn’t holding any extra water. Then, take a towel and dry off your paint roller gently until you have gotten most of the water off it. If you don’t do this part gently, you may damage the roller, and it may not paint as well as when you had bought it.

After you have done that, take a plastic clothes hanger and carefully break one of the bottom corners on it. Once you have done that, you can now put the roller on it. When you do this, you’ll be able to let the entire roller dry. If you set the roller down to air dry that way you may leave part of the roller bunched up and it will not be able to paint as well the next time you use it.

Step 5: Storage

Once your paint roller has been completely dried, find a bag that you can put it in that will be good for storage. Using a bag for storage to place this in will keep it clean and will keep it away from dust!

How to Clean a Foam Roller

Foam paint rollers are usually easier to use, as they have a smooth design to them. However, they still have their drawbacks. They hold moisture and liquids easier so you may find that they can be harder to keep clean. Follow these steps to ensure that they are clean and stay clean.

Step 1: Rolling the Paint Off

Just like using a nap roller and a latex paint, you will need to find a surface where you can roll as much paint off the paint roller as you can. Although this step won’t work as well as the foam will have absorbed more of the paint. You’ll be getting out most of the paint in the washing step.

Step 2: Scrape the Paint Roller

For this step, scraping the roller is optional. Using a scraper on a foam roller can work, but you will have to be very careful while doing it. You may cut into the foam when trying to scrape off the dried chunks and globs of paint. You may have a better outcome of using your fingers if you don’t mind washing paint under your nails.

Step 3: Washing the Paint Roller

First, determine if you are going to be cleaning it with containers or with a faucet. If you’ll be using containers, make sure you have somewhere to dump out the paint water once you are finished. However, using a sink would be quicker.

If you are using containers, make sure they are both big enough to fit the paint roller. For the second container, make sure it is larger than the second one. Fill the first container with warm water and soap. Fill the second container with warm water. Take your roller and wash it without it being on the handle.

Put the roller in the water and rub the paint off it. Once the paint is off the surface of it, squeeze it to make sure the soap goes through all of it. Next, squeeze it again and then put it in your second container to rinse it. Once you’ve rinsed it, squeeze the water over the first container, so you don’t get soap in your second one. Keep repeating until it is clean and has no more paint in it.

If you are using a sink, fill the sink with warm water and soap. Wash the surface of the roller so that it is clear of paint. Then soak it in the warm water for about 15 seconds. Squeeze the roller out and drain your sink. Run warm water over the roller and keep squeezing out the water until all the paint has gotten out of it.

Step 4: Dry the Paint Roller

Once your roller has been cleaned, squeeze as much water out of it as you can. Note that you need to squeeze it out and not ring it out like you would a washcloth. If you do it that way, you may alter the shape of the roller and won’t be able to use it again.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use a regular towel to finish drying it. All you’ll do is keep transferring what water is left-back and forth between the two. Instead, dry it with paper towels. Dry the outside first, then dry the inside of it. Once you have done this your roller should be dry enough.

Step 5: Storage

To keep your roller clean and free of dust, put it inside a bag after you know it is dry. As the foam is a natural thing that collects moisture, put it away with another paper towel with it. This will make sure that if any moisture does come in contact with it, the paper towel will absorb it from the roller.

Tricks for Dealing With Oil Paint

Oil-based paint will be much harder to clean than it would with your traditional paint. To clean off oil-based paint, you need to let it sit in paint thinner for a few minutes. The paint thinner will help break down the oil in the paint and make it much easier to wash. Be careful to not get on your skin as it is hard to get off.

Just like trying to get the Oil paint off your paint roller, it will be hard to get it off your skin. Do not user paint thinner on your skin; it will damage it and leave you with irritation for days. Instead, use olive oil or your normal cooking oil. It will mix with the paint and help break it down. Then you can use warm soap and water to get it off your hands.

Cleaning Your Roller After a While

Don’t worry if your roller hasn’t been used for a long time. There is a way to clean it so you can rescue your roller and have it working just as well as the first time you had it. There a few ways you can do this.

Paint Thinner

One way you can clean an older paint roller that has had paint built upon it for a while is by using paint thinner. If you are going to use this method to clean it, make sure you have gloves and protective eyewear of some kind. If you get this in your eyes or on your skin, it will burn and will hurt.

To do this, take a container that you can fit your paint roller in or a paint tray and put paint thinner in it. Put enough to cover half the roller. Once that is finished, set your dried roller in it and let it soak for 5 to 10 minutes on each. Afterward, run it under hot water until the paint thinner has come off. Now wash with warm soap and water.

Forcefully Cleansing

Having protective eyewear fir this method isn’t necessary but is recommended. You’ll need a bucket, soap, a hose, and a pressure washer nozzle for your hose. Fill your bucket with soap and warm water.  Start by spraying the roller with the pressure nozzle. The scrub it in the bucket. Repeat this process until your roller is clean!

Traditional Washing

This way will take the longest, but you’ll still be able to get it clean if you can’t use the other methods. To do this, you’ll only need soap, hot water, and a container. Fill your container with hot soap and water and let your roller soak in for 20 minutes. Repeat this process until all the paint comes off. Eventually, it will be soft enough to get rid of the paint.

Keeping Your Paint Roller or Paint Brush Fresh

Here are some tricks to keep your paint rollers and paintbrushes fresh, so you don’t have to keep washing them. This will only work if you are using the same brush every 4 days or less.

Hourly Upkeep

If you are working on a house project or a smaller project, there is a way to keep your brushes and rollers fresh in use after hours.

First, you’ll need a fabric towel or paper towels to use. Take your brush or paint roller and take off as much paint as you can without washing it. Next, take your towel and make it damp with water. If you are using paper towels, get them wet. Use more towels for a bigger brush or paint roller. Then, wrap your roller or brush in the towel.

Here is the big secret to keeping your brush clean during your project. Now that it is wrapped, place it in a bag, and leave it in your fridge. Yes, I said the fridge. It will keep the paint cool and wet, so next time you use it, it will be as if you never put it down. Note, this should only be done if you are going to be away for a couple of hours. Read on to keep the freshness for up to four days.

Daily Upkeep

To keep your brush fresh for days, repeat the steps from the hourly upkeep. After you have put it in a bag, place it in a container, then store it in the fridge. If you don’t do this, your whole fridge will smell like paint, and some of your food might smell and taste weird as well. Your brush or roller can stay fresh up to three or four days!

Can You Reuse Paint Trays?

Paint trays can be reused for long periods of time. You’ll need to wash them as you do with your brushes and rollers. Follow the steps in cleaning them as you would with your roller and use thinner if you have used an Oil paint. If you don’t want to reuse them, there are some you can buy from your local hardware or paint store for a very low price!

Clean but Still Not Usable?

Is your roller or brush clean but still too hard to use to paint with? There’s even a solution to fix that as well! According to WikiHow, there are three ways to make your brush soft again. If you have this problem, then pay attention as they will be listed step by step on how to make your brushes work like new again.


For this method, you will need lotion and a paper towel. This one is the simplest one to do. If you are trying to make your paint roller softer you will also need water and a bucket.

Step 1

For paint brushes, take the lotion and squirt a small amount into your hand. Take your brush and use it as if you were painting your hand. Brush the lotion back and forth so that it gets in between all the bristles.

For paint rollers, take the lotion and squirt enough lotion to cover your entire roller evenly. Knead the lotion into the roller so the entire roller becomes smoother.

Step 2

For paint brushes, gently wipe your brush on the paper towel and apply a slight amount of pressure while doing so. Make sure to wipe it in circles so you can get to every bristle in the middle as well. If your brush still isn’t as soft as you would like you can repeat the steps to make it softer. Lay it out to dry.

For paint rollers, take your paper towel and wipe as much of the lotion of as you can. When done, dip it into your bucket filled with water until it is clean and set it out to dry.


For this method you will need the following items: white vinegar, a small pot if you are using it on a brush or a large pot if you are using it on a paint roller, a glass jar or bowl, a comb, lotion, hair conditioner, a small bowl, a bucket and a small sandwich bag for brushes or a thin grocery bag for paint rollers. This process works a lot better if you have the items for it, but it does take a lot longer as well.

Step 1

For paint brushes, boil two to three cups of vinegar in your pot. The vinegar may evaporate so you may need to add more.

For paint rollers, boil enough vinegar that will be able to soak the entire paint roller, about four to eight cups.

Step 2

For paint brushes, leave them in your glass jar or bowl face down. Pour the bubbling vinegar into the jar or bowl so that it covers on the bristles. If you pour too much it could get on the metal of the brush and loosen it and your bristles will come off the brush. Let the brush sit for twenty to thirty minutes.

For paint rollers, take your roller without the handle and lay it down at the bottom of your bucket. Pour the bubbling water in the bucket and let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes. You wouldn’t want them to sit as long as a brush because the material of a roller isn’t as hard to soften as a brush.

Step 3

For both paintbrush and paint roller, take them out of the jar, bowl, or bucket and comb through it with your comb to get an excess paint out of them if there is any left on it.

Step 4

For paint brushes, rinse them and apply lotion to them and gently massage the lotion into the bristles of the brush.

For paint rollers, rinse it and apply enough lotion to cover the entirety of it. Massage the lotion so that it has gotten in all the fabric of the roller.

Step 5

For paint brushes, rinse the brush and coat it in hair conditioner. Then put it in the small sandwich bag with the point of the brush facing on the bottom corners of the bag. Then close the bag.

For paint rollers, rinse the roller and apply a thin layer of hair conditioner over the whole roller. Place the roller in your thin grocery bag and cover it tightly without trying to smear the lotion.

Step 6

For paint brushes, place the bag with the brush in your small bowl with regular hot water. Let it soak for an hour and replace the water regularly when the water gets cold.

For paint rollers, place the grocery bag in the bucket and fill it with regular hot water. Let it soak for thirty minutes and replace the water regularly when the water gets cold.

Scraper & Fabric Softener

For this method, you will need a scraper, fabric softener, a bucket, and water. This method is probably the quickest one to do and does not require much effort for a brush or a roller.

Step 1

For paint brushes, take your scraper and carefully scrape off as much paint as you can if there is paint on it. Do not press too hard while you do this. If you do, some of the bristles may come out.

For paint rollers, take your scraper and scrape off as much of the paint as you can. Be careful not to make any cuts or slices in the roller. If you do it may not work the same and will also be a lot harder to clean.

Step 2

For paint brushes, mix half a cup of fabric softener and one gallon of water into your bucket. Stir the liquid until its fully mixed.

For paint rollers, mix 1 cup of fabric softener with 2 gallons of water into your bucket. Stir the liquid until its fully mixed.

Step 3

For paint brushes, dip them in the bucket and move the bristle around in it for ten seconds. If your brush isn’t soft, try it again for another ten seconds. Rinse the brush with warm water and let it sit to dry.

For paint rollers, let it sit in the bucket and move it around for twenty seconds. If it isn’t soft by then, do it for another twenty seconds. Rinse your roller and dry it.

Now that you have learned how to keep your rollers and brushes properly clean and readily able to use, share your knowledge with your friends. They will think you are an expert painter and won’t doubt you for your skills!



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