Unclogging Rust-Oleum Nozzle




Introduction: Unclogging Rust-Oleum Nozzle

I love Rust-Oleum spray paints because of the wide range and quality. Most of the cans can even spray at any angle, even upside down. But I quickly encountered one big problem: The nozzles get blocked easily.

Getting spare nozzles is not that easy, and not cheap either.

So I devised a way of unclogging the blocked nozzles, which seems to work quite well.

But before you try my invasive method, maybe also try some other methods mentioned in the comments section and on the web:

1. Use a can of brake or carburetor cleaner to clear the nozzle.

2. Soak it in mineral spirits/white spirits/mineral turpentine or paint thinners to soften up the gunk, and then try to blow it out with an air compressor, or clean it with a thin wire.

If none of these methods work, I hope mine will do the trick, as described in the following steps.

Step 1: What You Will Need

1. A small awl

2. 1 mm drill bit

3. A thin needle with a thickness of approximately 0.7 mm (2nd picture)

4. A pair of pliers to grip the needle with.

5. A blower bulb or something similar to test the flow of air through the nozzle.

Step 2: Remove the Jet From the Nozzle

With a sharp object (I use a small sewing awl) pry out the black jet from the white nozzle body (1st picture). A miniature screwdriver should also work. Be careful, the awl can easily slip and hurt you! The jet can also shoot out unexpectedly and land you don't know where.

Things should now look like the 2nd picture: the jet on the right and the nozzle body on the left.

See if the jet is clogged or not, as shown in the 3rd picture. If the orifice is not clean and round, it should be cleaned with the needle. It is important not to dig around with the needle, because that will destroy the spray pattern of the jet. Force the needle straight through the jet as seen in the 3rd picture, and slide the jet along the needle a few times to clean it.

If the jet is clear, you can now test the flow through the nozzle itself using the blower with air or water. If the flow is non-existent or weak, the problem probably lies with the horizontal canal/passage between the jet and the vertical opening into which the can's spout fits (last picture).

Step 3: Cleaning the Blocked Canal

We're going to clean up/rebore the canal with the 1 mm (1/32 inch) drill bit (1st picture).

As shown in the 2nd picture, we just drill down the canal. You'll feel when the drill bit reaches the vertical opening inside after about 6 or 7 mm, and that also means the canal is now cleared.

Blow any swarf out with the blower, and just pop back the black jet (3rd picture). The nozzle should now be working perfectly again (last picture).

Step 4: Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Of course, best would be if the nozzles do not get clogged in the first place, and this can supposedly be prevented by removing the nozzle each time after you've used it, and placing it in a container filled with mineral turpentine (white spirits). I've only just started using this method after getting the tip on the internet, and still have to see if it is 100% effective.

Of course, if you go to the trouble to blow some mineral turps/thinners through the nozzle after each use, you'll probably have the best results in maintaining your nozzles.

And of course, always wipe the nozzle's jet after using, as stated in the instructions on the can (you did read that, didn't you?)



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    48 Discussions

    Although the "turning the can upside down and spraying until no more paint exits the nozzle" will work on some cans (where instructed on back of can), it doesn't work on the cans that allow you to spray with the can in positions other than with the can straight up and down. These are typically the cans with the nozzle as shown in the instructable. Turning the can upside down to spray only allows the paint to continue spraying out without clearing the nozzle.

    Most times you can just invert the can then spray for a few seconds until clear propellant comes out. I have been doing that for over 30 years and have never had a can clog on me whether Rust-Oleum or cheap stuff. I guess if you only lots of short jobs you might run out of propellant but I have also never had an issue with that.

    with MTN paint, is even worse!!! they clog every damn time! even they sell nozzles, with the 94 paints, i always have to buy at least 3 or 4 extra nozzles (0.10cts each) but man, when it's about to clog, it spites some blobs and you have to start all over. I know they are meant to make graffiti, i use them to paint objects as well. I know some proffessional painters and what they do is soak them overnight with acetone, i didn't tried that though...

    1 reply

    I also still have to try the acetone method. And I know the blob spraying all too well. Of course the answer is to make sure the nozzle is properly unclogged before you start spraying. ;-)


    4 months ago

    nice I have a couple of cans that have never been used simply because I can not get them to spray at all I did not notice the problem until a few months after I had bought them and of course lost the docket {lol}

    I have them sitting there now for a few years now never been able to get a spray out of any of them. I always keep spay can nozzles (don’t know why never used them before but had been told years ago to keep them {lol}) so I went through my stash of nozzles but nothing has worked so far, yep they work on other spray cans. The trick I use is fly spray to clear out the nozzles when finished {lol} it works or even a can of WD40 I have two cans sitting around with no nozzles so I can use the spray paint nozzles on them to clear them out.

    I am at a loss as to why these two cans will not spray at all I have checked the spout on top of the can and that looks clear as best as I can see {lol}

    I have used the old trick of a tire valve placed over the can and with the air compressor pumped them up which also shows me their pressure just as if it was a tyre and that’s correct for a can that has not been used yet.

    Last option I have is to cut the cans open and use the paint with my minture model spray painter.


    Tip 4 months ago

    After usage wipe with cloth, turn upsidedown and spray until no more paint exits the nozzle. then you are done!


    Tip 4 months ago

    Here's my secret: Tips are most likely to get clogged when cans sit unused for a while, however, there are often times when I spray something really large and use multiple cans at once. The trick when using multiple cans is to pop off and save unused nozzles and just use one of them for the entire project. 5 cans of paint = 1 nozzle for the day and 4 spare nozzles for the future! By planning ahead I always have backup nozzles. :D

    1 reply

    Thanks, bgreen3, makes sense!

    I use one bristle out of a steel brush to get the dry paint out. Also, I have a stash of "good" nozzles.

    1 reply

    Jimvandamme, I've not had success with the bristle method, but will give it a try again. Maybe I wasn't patient enough.

    What I use is to bed in auto paint thinner for a while and work nice for me of course rechek with a drill bit lower or almost the same size of the nozzle you can find it at hobby or miniature tool suplire.

    1 reply

    Thanks, justiniano, I've not had much success with auto paint thinners before, but will try it again.

    I ran into this exact same issue and found a simple solution. I put a straight pin in my drill chuck to reopen the nozzle. Once clean, then remove nozzle after every use and spray air through it to clean it out. I too like these cans, but rarely use a whole can in one shot.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 months ago

    Thankjs, mtdc, makes sense.

    I've tried many of these with varying degrees of success. What I have been doing for some time now with 100% success is to put a tiny dab of Vaseline petroleum over the spray tip immediately after use, and just wipe it off before the next use. A small jar on your workbench will last for years. Scott

    1 reply

    Interesting method, the7smiths, of which I have not heard before. Perhaps it works by sealing off air from the inside of the nozzle, preventing the paint to dry out?

    I've had the same problems with the Rustoleum cans. What I've started doing is pulling off the cap when I'm done and blasting it out with the compressed air nozzle from underneath. Seems to be working so far.

    1 reply

    Darwinfish, makes sense. It looks as if good maintenance of the nozzle largely consists of clearing the paint from it while it is still wet, whether by air pressure or solvent.

    Yes, they are designed to frustrate and waste loads of time and money like cartridges of silicone - the tradesmen have got the right idea - charge it to the customer and just use new ones each time. It does make sense in the long run.

    Poking things in the spray nozzle generally messes up the spray pattern - an aggressive solvent is probably the best bet. The nozzles are probably polypropylene or polyethylene so won't be touched in the short term by most solvents.

    If the contents are water-based, either water or caustic soda might soften up enough.

    If solvent based, aggressive solvents like chloromethane, methyl ethyl ketone, acetone, xylene or even meth's - your best chance is to get the nozzle off straightaway into solvent then a soft bristle like a toothbrush fibre

    Same strategy applies to decent paint brushes - don't use the same one all day, but swap regularly and get them straight into solvent or whatever after 30-minutes or so

    1 reply

    Thanks, pgs070947, for your insight. I agree about first trying solvent before cleaning the nozzle by mechanical means.