How to Clean an Airbrush Gun

I am a firm believer in getting things straight from the horses mouth. If I have a question about something, I like to get the right answer from the person who knows what is going on. So I called Edward. Edward was very smart and super helpful person at Pegasus. He is my airbrush gun go to guy.

Airbrush gun thebearfootbaker.comThis my airbrush gun. Isn’t she pretty? Her name is “Wendy.”  I got her from Karen’s Cookies. An airbrush gun wasn’t a big investment like my DSLR Camera but, it is an investment. Any time I purchase something new, I want to know how to take care of it because I want to keep it running as smoothly as possible for as long as it can. I want to share with you how to properly clean your gun so it will work like new for a long time.

If you want to know how to use the airbrush gun, click here.

Purge Your Airbrush Gun:

Airbrush gun thebearfootbaker.comNEVER USE HOT WATER on your airbrush gun because, there are plastic gaskets that can be warped and destroy your gun. Use warm water.

Airbrush gun thebearfootbaker.comThis cup is where you add the airbrush color. It needs to be cleaned when you are done using it. So add some warm water to and dump it out into a trash can or a cup of water or the sink. Add a little more water and dump it out.

Airbrush gun thebearfootbaker.comThen, with the gun plugged in and on,submerge the needle and cup into a bowl of warm water and pull the trigger. The gun is connected to a rubber hose so as long as the mini compressor or power cord doesn’t touch the water, you will not be shocked. No electric current runs through the hose. Run water through for a few minutes to make sure all of the color is out of the gun. Pull and release the trigger several times  to force particles out of the needle and end cap. If you water turns colors, you will need to get fresh water and continue to rinse.

Airbrush gun thebearfootbaker.comWhen you remove the gun from the water, add fresh water to the cup. Then, put your finger over the needle cap and pull the trigger to make the air flow backward into the gun to remove any left color. It will bubble up. Dump the water and submerge the needle and cup into the warm water and pull the trigger.

Airbrush gun thebearfootbaker.comRemove the gun from the water and spray onto a white napkin or white paper towel. If you don’t see any color on your napkin or paper towel, your gun is clean.

You can buy cleaners to clean your gun but Edward assured me you can use the process above but, if you want a cleaning solution, add 2 drips of dish washing liquid to the water. After you clean it be sure to rinse it very well! You don’t want it to dry with bubbles in gun because it will harm it.

Airbrush gun thebearfootbaker.comThis is the needle. It is a very important part of your gun. You don’t want to do anything to harm your needle so treat it with care.

Pearl Sheen:

Pearl Sheen is a beautiful thing! It can give your cookies a marvelous finish. I love Pearl Sheen and use it every chance I get. I am going to do a post soon on how to use your Pearl Sheen with it blowing chunks onto your cookies. It will work for all sheen colors so stay tuned.

I have also learned Peal Sheen is not like the regular colors for your airbrush gun. It will dry as a solid and can mess up your gun if you don’t clean it properly after you use it because it will set up in your gun. If you follow the steps above, you should not have any problems with your gun. Use that Pearl Sheen and don’t be afraid!


If your trigger is lose and nothing is coming out of your gun, don’t panic. You can curdle your gun and soak it in water overnight if you follow the steps below. The gun is designed not to rust so if you don’t scratch it, it will be fine left in water for a day or two. This should help unclog it.  Edward told me he has left his gun in water for 2 weeks and it works fine.

Curdle Your Airbrush Gun:

Do you ever wonder why there is a tiny little wrench in your airbrush gun box? Well, I will tell you.Airbrush gun thebearfootbaker.comIt is used to remove this! Every once in a while you need to curdle your gun especially if you use a lot of Pearl Sheen. BUT DON’T TAKE THE LONG NEEDLE OUT!!! JUST REMOVE THE NEEDLE CAP AND NOZZLE TO LET THE WATER REACH INSIDE THE GUN!

Airbrush gun thebearfootbaker.comRemove the needle cap and the nozzle cap. With your little wrench, remove the nozzle.

How to remove the nozzle from an airbrush gun thebearfootbaker.comLook at that needle! That is a beautiful sight! Be careful to just remove the nozzle and not the needle!! Once you loosen the nozzle, carefully slide it off leaving the needle in place.

Airbrush Gun thebearfootbaker.comPut it in water and let it soak overnight. You can add a with a drop or two of vinegar if you want a cleaning solution. (Pretend I took my gun apart like the picture above. You should remove the end cap, and the nozzle. I forgot to take a picture of that step but will add it when I get home from vacation.)

Airbrush Gun thebearfootbaker.comOnce it soaks overnight put it back together and rinse. You are ready to go airbrush some cookies now.

I hope I have taken the scary out of the cleaning process for you. If you have any other questions please email me at or Edward at His number is 817-297-2240 if you want to get encouragement from him before you start to take your gun apart. He is the one who taught me and he is a great teacher!

More on Airbrush Guns:
How to use and airbrush gun
Airbrush 101 

Happy Creating,



  1. *sigh* I still don’t have an airbrush gun…I must get one soon! Maybe I’ll put it on my Christmas list :)

    I’ve bookmarked this for when I do have one though – so helpful!

  2. Gretchen R says:

    I have NEVER thought to backflow the air!! Thanks for the tip :) Do you have any sources for replacement needles?? (the step where you’re NOT TO TOUCH THE NEEDLE…….well that didn’t go as planned) Thx again!!

    • OH NO!!! Did it bend? I am still traveling home from Cookie Con but, I will call Edward next week and see if he can supply a source for replacement!I am going to send you a private email!

  3. Wow! That dry pearl sheen thing juste happened to me this weekend and I tought my gun was ruined! So happy to read this now, I am so going to clean it! Thank you (darn instruction booklet with nothing in it!) so lucky you exist!! :)

    • Hi Solaine, I am so glad I was able to share the instructions Edward provided me. He is a fountain of information and I wish it would have been included in the instructions. But, hopefully this post will help all the “Wendy’s” working great. If you have any questions, let me know! :)

  4. ahhhh!!! Who knew the pearl sheen was the culprit. Well I have my bottle sitting in time out while I go clean my machine! {by the way….LOVED getting to meet you last week} You are even MORE ADORABLE IN PERSON! Have an amazing drive home with your wonderful husband!

    • I LOVE meeting you Melissa! You are so sweet and I hope we meet again someday soon:) And yes, put that Pearl Sheen in time out for now. In a few days it will be glad it had a chance to rest! LOL

  5. Lisa,
    Thanks again for a great post on using, cleaning and troubleshooting an airbrush gun. I have been so intimidated but your posts have removed the fear and I am now ready to move forward! I can wait for the post on using pearl sheen.

    • I am still at large in the Wild, Wild West and will work on the Pearl Sheen post when I get home. I think we will all benefit from Edward’s advice on how to use it:) Let me know if you have an questions:)

  6. Awesome!! I am going to clean mine this weekend! I hope it helps… my airbrush is “spitting” on my cookies.

  7. I am going to try this tonight!! I sure hope it works!

  8. This has been so helpful! Thank you!!! :) I have the Duff airbrush machine, and the gun that came with it stopped working. I bought another one ((Flair F-130) and that stopped working after 1 use… I’ve been so unlucky :(

    I cleaned the Flair gun that I bought as a replacement just now, following your instructions and it only sprays air. I added color and it sprayed it in bursts, then sprayed it very lightly. Not consistent spraying at all… would you know what happened please?

    I also tried the bubbling back method with having the air flow back in the gun with Duff’s airbrush gun and it did not bubble at all. So that is soaking in a vinegar solution now…not sure if it’ll work.

    What would be a good place to buy a good replacement airgun? Or a totally new great airbrush machine, preferably under $80-$100? Thank you!!

    • Hey Lisa,

      I am so sorry you have had so much trouble with the Duff airbrush gun! I am not sure where the best place is to get replacement parts but, I will give you the name of a very helpful man. His name is Edward and he is the airbrush gun supplier for Karen’s Cookies. His number is 817-297-2240 or email him at

      If anyone can help you, he can.


  9. I am planning to get the airbrush gun. Will be emailing you with lots of questions. Thank you for your wonderful tutorials!

  10. Thanks a lot for this ‘how-to’
    I got an airbrush for my birthday last monday. Now i have to learn handle it.
    This post and the other posts of you are very helpfull.

    p.s. the photo’s are made fantastic!

  11. I just got an airbrush (master) and while it worked the first time i put it together, it stopped working the next day. I was getting air but there was no color coming out. I did remove the parts you showed and soaked them in water with the airbrush gun and then tried it again. Nothing. I will try your instructions and pray it works. Am itching to get it working so i can use it regularly.

    • Hi Amy, try running some vodka throgh it. If that doesn’t work, you may want to contact the company that makes it. It should have worked more than one day!!!

  12. I am having a terrible time with my airbrush! I have the Master airbrushing kit and it is fantastic – when it works. I have really struggled with consistency in the spray. Today when I used it, the spray was sooooo heavy and left the cookies damp and sticky with the color! I have tried all the tips you suggested and I am curdling it right now. I am very frustrated and unsure what to do. I know there must be a solution but I can’t find it!!!!!

    • Hi Kelly,
      Can you contact the manufacture? They might be able to give you some suggestions. If you are having trouble, maybe others have had the same problem so they will know how to tell you to fix it.

      Good luck!

      • I have been thinking about doing that. Thank you so much for your reply and for all of the great airbrush information you have compiled on here. You have taught me a lot!

  13. This looks exactly like The airbrush makeup system that I have been using for years . The pieces are exactly the same. The manufacturer of my airbrush system recommends that you unscrew the plastic handle on your stylus/gun, loosen the retaining nut at the very end of the stylus/gun and pull out the needle carefully. Clean it carefully by wiping it with a warm water soaked paper towel. I find if I don’t do this after every 5 or six uses, the stylus/gun will begin to spray unevenly. Back bubbling and rinsing with water or solution is not usually enough to keep it from clogging in the long term. I’m curious if your stylus comes apart at the base like mine does. If so try carefully removing the plastic base of the stylus/gun. It should screw off. Then remove the needle by loosening the retaining nut at the end of the mechanism (there should be 2 nuts. The retaining nut is the one at the very end. The nut that is closer to the little cup is for tightening the trigger in the event that it loosens) Loosen the reraining nut by a half turn; pull the needle out carefully, you dint want ti bend it. Clean the needle then carefully reinsert it into the stylus. Then you simply tighten the retaining nut a half turn. Do not tighten the nut any tighter than that.
    This should keep your gun in working order for a ling time and keep the needle from gunking up.

    • Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for sharing. I learned how to clean my gun from the manufacturer and he is amazing!

      If anyone has tough questions about their airbrush systems, I refer them to the manufacturer because they are so much smarter than I am! LOL

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