How to Clean a Paint Tray?

Learn how to keep your paint tray clean after each painting session easily.

Whenever you are up to any painting project in your home, it is not only important to get all the tools and supplies ready, such as brushes, paint, solvents, etc. It is also essential to know how to clean all those tools and supplies after the painting session is finished.

Since paint gets hard to remove once it gets dry, time matters here.

You need to be able to clean the paint off quickly enough from the brushes and from your paint tray, otherwise, they will be impossible to use next time! Especially the brushes.

So in today’s article we will reveal a few secrets about how to clean a paint roller and tray. Also, we will explain what you need to do to deal with the fresh paint, and what to do to clean off the paint that is already dry.

And as a bonus, you will learn what can be done to leftover paint in case you are not going to use it for painting, but you would also not want to throw it away.

How to Clean a Paint Roller Tray?

So you were up to some painting projects recently in your home, and now that everything is done you are left with a paint tray fully covered with paint, and with a paint roller which is the same completely soaked with it!

Naturally, everyone would like to know in this situation what he or she needs to do in order to clean the tray and get that paint off the roller both safely and quickly while it is still fresh.

Because if you leave them like this, the roller (or the brushes if you were using them instead) will become useless once the paint dries.

The bristles of the paint brush will become stuck together, and the surface of the roller will become as hard as a stone! Obviously, painting with such tools is hardly possible.

This is why it is important to know how to wash them correctly. Why is that, you may wonder?

How to Clean a Paint Tray
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See, you can’t just wash your paint brush under the running tap water! Not all types of paint can be removed this way.

Some of them require stronger products to dissolve the paint successfully and to wash it off.

This is why we are going to explain how to clean the paint tray when you are done painting. The same will be explained regarding the paint roller.

In addition, we will share a few extra techniques on how you can clean the paint off your painting tools without damaging them.

So let’s start with how to clean paint off your paint tray.

How to Clean a Paint Roller Tray
Credits: MortonPhotographic, via Canva.com

How to Clean a Dried Paint From a Painting Tray?

What if you finished your paint project, but for some reason you forgot to wash your paint tray immediately after the job was done?

Well, first and foremost of all, it means that in this case, you will have to deal with the paint tray covered with dry paint. Which means that the clean-up procedure is going to be somewhat more complicated.

Is it going to be a pain? In fact, it is not! Of course, the cleaning process will take you more time, but still, it is not something impossible to do.

In fact, the procedure itself will be completely the same as the one we have just described above for cleaning the fresh paint off the tray.

You will need to run cold water over the tray to remove the paint leftovers and scrub the tray to completely delete the paint.

However, if you are initially dealing with the paint that is already dry, you will first have to treat the tray with either a paint thinner or a power washer.

Depending on the type of paint used, you might cope with it with mere soapy water!

To finish the procedure, dry your paint tray with a dry cloth. It will help to better delete the moisture, but it’s ok if you just leave the tray to air dry if you have such an opportunity and a proper place.

How to Clean a Dried Paint From a Painting Tray
Credits: stacey_Newman, via Canva.com

How to Clean Fresh Paint Off the Paint Tray?

As soon as you are done painting and you know that you will not be using the tray later until the next painting project, pour the unused paint back into the can if it has not been contaminated.

To guide the paint flow back into its container, you can use a paint brush – it will allow you to avoid splashes and spills all around.

The next step is to run cold water over the paint tray. This way, you will rinse away most of the paint.

If there are any leftovers stuck to the tray, feel free to use a scrub brush to remove them.

Simply brush the stained areas of the tray with circular motions and rinse your tray one final time after all the paint is removed. Dry it with an old cloth.

No matter whether you are cleaning away fresh paint or the paint that has already dried, it is important to not skip the cleaning step.

A tray that is covered with multiple layers of dry paint can not be properly used for your home painting projects!

Re-using Dirty Paint Trays (or How To Instantly Clean Paint Trays)Re-using Dirty Paint Trays (or How To Instantly Clean Paint Trays)

How to Clean a Paint Roller?

Paint roller is another essential tool that is used in every home painting project. However, just like with the paint tray, keeping your roller clean is a must.

Otherwise, if you just leave it as it is with the dry paint leftovers on the roller sleeve, it will end up with you buying a new roller each time you need to paint something! Let’s agree, this can hardly be called a wise investment!

This is why we suggest you learn a few simple tips on how to keep your paint roller always clean and ready for work.

How to Clean a Paint Roller
Credits: bdspnimage, via Canva.com

Remove the Paint From the Roller Sleeve

In order to clean the paint roller, you need to start with working the tool over a scrap board. This will help you to eliminate as much leftover paint as possible. Then, hold the roller over the sink with the water running.

Grip one end of the roller and slide your other hand down the tool’s sleeve using a firm grip. This way, you will easily get rid of the lion’s share of the paint!

Remove the Paint From the Roller Sleeve
Credits: Sladic, via Canva.com

Clean the Frame Of Your Roller

This is the next step that must be taken on the way to the cleanliness of this painting tool! All you need to do is to run your paint roller under cold water for a minute or two. And then just repeat the step that we have described above.

Next, fill the sink partly with cold water and work the roller to and fro in the water. Repeat this step a couple of times.

Then remove the roller sleeve from the paint roller frame and clean that frame thoroughly. If you feel that it is needed, don’t hesitate to make use of a scrub brush.

Clean the Frame Of Your Roller
Credits: Szepy, via Canva.com

Cleaning the Sleeve’s Pole Thoroughly

Work the pole of your paint roller’s sleeve with your hands while keeping the tool under the cold running water. Repeat this step until the water is running clear.

Then, place the roller’s sleeve back on the frame of the tool. Spin the roller to remove the excess water (this is better to be done outside!).

After you are done with all the cleaning steps, you need to store your paint roller correctly.

When storing it, you’d better hang it so the sleeve of the tool does not touch anything around. Simply let the paint roller air dry.

And anyway, we recommend you buy more than one roller for your home painting projects so you can use the tools interchangeably.

Cleaning the Sleeve’s Pole Thoroughly
Credits: Kevin Brine, via Canva.com

Extra Roller Cleaning Techniques to Keep In Mind

Those methods of cleaning your paint roller that we have described above are the most commonly used. However, it does not mean that you don’t need to be aware of a couple of extra options to make use of just in case!

So what else can be done in order to clean old paint off your roller and keep it clean? We can suggest you two effective solutions:

  1. Buy a roller washer
  2. Opt for a pressure washer

See, if you really want to clean your paint roller perfectly, you should consider buying a roller washer. This product is easy to use and it works really quickly, which means that you will reduce the time needed for cleaning compared to the time you usually spend on cleaning the tool by hand.

All you need to do when cleaning your roller with this product is to hook up a hose to a faucet, slide the cover of the roller into the roller washer’s tube, and turn the water on.

It will flush the paint out in a matter of minutes!

As for the pressure washer, you will need to spray the roller off with it if you are painting outdoors. Simply attach the paint roller to a long pole and stand up a wheelbarrow for your backdrop.

Be sure that the paint will be cleaned off in a minute or two!

Extra Roller Cleaning Techniques to Keep In Mind
Credits: Sladic, via Canva.com

What to Do With Leftover Paint In a Tray?

We can’t always measure precisely how much paint we need for each particular home painting project. However, this is also the most common reason why we tend to be left with quite a lot of leftover and unused paint afterward!

For many home renovators, it appears to be a real trouble and pain! So no wonder that these people often ask how that leftover paint can be used (if it can be used somehow at all, of course).

Is it ok if I just pour it back into the can? Or, maybe, I should find another container and keep it in it instead? Shall I dispose of it somehow, perhaps?

Too many questions in your head, we understand, this is why we want to offer you a few handy and easy tips on how your leftover paint can be stored. Anyway, each of these variants is better than simply throwing it away!

What to Do With Leftover Paint In a Tray
Credits: sweetandsour, via Canva.com

So first of all, the paint that is left in its initial container can be safely stored in it. Paint is quite durable stuff, so don’t worry! It will easily survive for years if you do everything right. So just put a color swatch on the label, and mark on the paint can to show how much paint is left inside.

Also, remember to write down the date and which room this paint was used for. You can write this all down on the lid with a usual permanent marker.

After you do this, close the can securely and turn it upside down. It will create a tight seal around the lid.

Another option is better to be used if you have leftover paint in the paint tray, but you can’t or you don’t want to transfer it back to the can. In this case, simply take a clean see-through glass or plastic container, and transfer the paint leftovers into it.

Remember to write all the necessary information on the outside of the container and put plastic wrap just under the lid. It will help to prevent sticking. This paint can be successfully used for touch-ups or other minor painting jobs.

What to Do With Leftover Paint In a Tray (2)
Credits: tzahiV, via Canva.com

How to Discard Paint Correctly?

If you still need to discard the leftover paint, it must also be done correctly. Remember that you can’t just throw the can away into the trash bin! Paint, especially if it’s a liquid paint, is considered hazardous. This is why it must be disposed of properly.

If you need to discard any liquid paint (e.g. acrylic or latex), add cat litter or shredded paper to it to speed up its drying. Otherwise, wait until it dries and solidifies itself.

Never pour it down the drain, on the ground, or into a garbage can!

The best thing you can do in order to dispose of leftover paint is to take it to the nearest household waste collection center.

How to Discard Paint Correctly
Credits: Maksim Trukhin, via Canva.com

So, now you know everything and a bit more about cleaning the paint tray and roller! And since we also told you how to correctly dispose of the paint leftovers, you will surely be treating this substance correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ How to clean oil paint from a tray?

Use paint thinner and then scrub it away.

⭐ How long does acrylic paint last?

Its shelf life is about ten years.

⭐ Is it possible to revive paint brushes that have oil paint dried on them?

You can try and use paint thinners, but they will hardly help. Most likely, the brushes must be discarded.

Written by Olivia Paxton
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Mrs Paxton used to work for the Four Season Service for 15 years! She is our super experienced advisor on anything that has to do with hotels, apartments, room services, and cleaning all these objects. Any spots will be defeated with her experience.
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