How To Clean Sticky Oil Paint Tubes?

How To Clean Sticky Oil Paint Tubes cover image

If your oil paint tubes are sticky, you may need to clean them so that you can use them again. Oil paint is very sticky and can be difficult to clean off the tubes. Fortunately, there are a few ways to easily get the job done. 

You can clean sticky oil paint tubes with a wet cloth, solvent, or Windex, depending on how tough the paint is to remove. Cleaning the lid of the tube can help you control where the paint spreads to before it dries to prevent your paint tubes from discoloring. 

One – Use a Wet Cloth To Remove Excess Oil Paint

The first thing you can do to remove oil paint from the tube is to clean off the lid as soon as you use it. If you keep up with cleaning the lid, there is a much better chance that your tubes will remain clean without much effort. 

Use a wet cloth to wipe the lid of the oil paint tube after you use it. This is when the paint is more pliable and easier to remove. If you wait too long, you may need to consider other methods, as oil paint gets more difficult to remove as it dries. 

You should do this step every time you use your oil paints, as it will help prevent sticky messesOpens in a new tab. and can also help preserve your paint. 

Two – Use Solvent for More Stubborn Paint

If the sticky paint is a bit too stubborn for a wet cloth, consider using a solvent to get the job done. 

Solvents work to separate the paintOpens in a new tab. from the surface it is on, helping lift the stain away and remove it as efficiently as possible. 

You may already have a favorite solvent, so use whichever works best for you. However, if you don’t know what solvent to use or are looking for something different, I recommend this Winsor & Newton Sansodor SolventOpens in a new tab. (available on 

Winsor & Newton Sansodor Low Odor Solvent, 75ml (2.5oz) Bottle
  • A low odor solvent which evaporates slowly, increases blending time and is suitable for thinning oil...
  • Suitable for oil and alkyd color
  • Well suited to artists who prefer to avoid exposure to turpentine

Last update on 2024-05-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This solvent has a very low odor, making it perfect for artists who are more sensitive to smells. You can use it to clean your brushes and any other tools that your oil paint comes into contact with. The best part about it is that it doesn’t leave any film or tackiness behind after you use it. 

Your tubes may not require more powerful solvents, so the Winsor & Newton solvent is just the right mix of gentle and effective to make the removal process easier without making a mess. 

Three – Use Windex To Remove Sticky Oil Paint

If you don’t have any solvent available or don’t want to waste any just yet, consider trying Windex to remove sticky paint from your oil paint tubes. 

Many people only think of Windex as helpful when cleaning a window or making their mirror shine. However, it can also help you remove sticky substancesOpens in a new tab. with ease. 

The ingredients in Windex allow it to combat oil, which makes it great for removing oil paint from a tube. It can help lift stuck paint and remove it quickly and easily. 

Spray Windex on your oil paint tubes and wipe them off with a clean towel. Make sure you allow the Windex to sit on the sticky paint for about 30 seconds before you wipe it off. For larger areas of paint, you may need to repeat this process a few times to remove it thoroughly. 

Four – Consider Using Grease-Fighting Dish Soap

If you want to remove oil paint from the tubesOpens in a new tab. but don’t want to use anything that is too strong or smells bad, you can try grease-fighting dish soap. 

Dish soapsOpens in a new tab. can cut through grease and oil stains. They can also remove sticky paint from whatever surface you need. 

Additionally, many dish soaps contain oils that separate other oils from surfaces and water, carrying them away when you rinse them. If you use this method, make sure you close your oil paint tubes tightly.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Wet the tube and apply the soap generously to the area with the oil. 
  2. Allow the soap to work for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly for the best possible results. 
  3. Dry it with a towel. 

Five – Gently Scrape Off Large Clumps

If you allow the paint to dry fully on your paint tubes, it can be tough to remove. Also, some of the above methods may not work on large, dry clumps of paint gathering on the tube. 

If that’s the case, you need to remove the dried clumps before you can get to the sticky residue underneath. 

Solid tubes and those with more give require you to treat them differently when it comes to scraping off large clumps of paint. For solid tubes, you can use a paint scraper or another tough instrument. 

However, it’s not as simple for tubes with more give. You shouldn’t squeeze them because you can damage them and even put a hole in them. It will dry out your paint and cause a mess if that happens. So, instead, you should gently pry off dry paint with an instrument you can more easily control. You can also try using your fingers or a straight edge tool to grip the paint and peel it off. 

Once you get the dried clump off, sticky paint will probably be left underneath. If so, use the above steps to remove it completely from the tube. 

Final Words

You should always keep your paint tubes clean, as sticky paint tubes can make a mess and cover your hands, clothes, and tools in oil paint. So, follow our guide to clean off your tubes fully and have them look as good as new after every use.

Ken Bromley Art SuppliesOpens in a new tab.
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Caraca's self-taught artist based in the UK, Ines explores unconventional materials and sustainability.

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