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How to Clean Oil Paint Palette

how to clean oil paint palette

If you are into oil painting, you know the importance of the painting palette to your hobby. However, many painting hobbyists do not enjoy the cleaning and maintenance side of it. It is a fact that a lot of painters hate cleaning their palettes.

So, how to clean oil paint palette? Cleaning an oil palette is easier than you think using the right tools and cleaning materials. This article guides you with a step-by-step guide to properly cleaning the oil palette.

What to Prepare:

  • Cleaning tool: Pilot knife or Silicone knife
  • Cleaning material: Thinner, All-Purpose Cleaner, Olive Oil, or Baby Wipes

Step 1: Clean the Oil Paint Palette Immediately

Cleaning the oil paint palette is like washing your dishes. You need to do it right after your painting session. For sure, painters like you need to enjoy and relax after a challenging painting activity but cleaning the oil paint palette is a good habit to develop.

If you own a wood palette, then it is more important to do it immediately to prevent oil paint from sticking into the wood pores, which is even more challenging to remove. This situation is the reason why it is a must to learn how to clean a wooden paint palette the right way.

Furthermore, failing to clean the oil paint palette can also damage it in the future. The more you leave the paint for extended periods, the harder it is to clean it. So, cleaning it immediately and preventing future complications is essential.

Step 2: Getting Rid of the Excess Paint

clean the oil paint palette immediately

After your painting activity, it is expected that your painting palette will be messy of all the extra paint that was not used. As mentioned earlier, you do not want to ruin your palette by cleaning it immediately. A paint palette is expensive, so taking care of it is a must.

This step will eliminate the excess paint that is not salvageable, or that cannot be reused. One tool that can be used to get rid of excess paint is the pilot knife. All you need to do is go through and scrape off the residual paint you do not need and throw it away.

If the paint is spread all over your mixing palette, another tool you can use is the silicone knife. Yes, this tool is for baking, but it can also be used to scrape a lot of paint in your oil paint palette.

The best thing about this tool is that it can get the job done much quicker since the knife has greater coverage. Compared to a pilot knife, it is slightly larger, which allows you to clean the mess quickly and efficiently.

Step 3: Cleaning the Surface

using an all-purpose cleaner

After getting rid of the excess paint, the next step is to clean the palette’s surface. There are three cleaning materials that you can use for this final step: a thinner, an all-purpose cleaning solution, olive oil, and baby wipes.

Using a Thinner

One of the easiest and simplest ways to clean the surface is using a thinner. This cleaning material is expected to be in your position since it is also needed on other things when doing oil painting. If you paint wet and wet style, you probably own an odorless paint thinner.

All you have to do is pour the thinner into a paper towel and rub it in the paint palette. The thinner will remove and eat away all the paint by wiping it on the surface. After removing the paint, finish the job by wiping the surface with a clean paper towel, and you are good to go.

The only problem with using this product is its tag price. A thinner costs a lot of money, making it difficult to constantly use it for cleaning. So, an alternative cleaning material can always be used if you don’t like the thinner.

Using an All-Purpose Cleaner

Using an all-purpose cleaner is also an alternative. It is cheaper and safe to use. All you have to do is apply it to your oil paint palette, and it will start removing all the dirt on the surface. After removing all the dirt, wipe the surface again with a clean paper towel to complete the job.

Olive Oil

Another product that you can use to clean the surface of your oil paint palette is olive oil. You probably have olive oil in your home, which makes this cleaning material readily accessible. The exact process will be used to clean the surface of your oil paint palette.

All you have to do is put some olive oil on a loose paper towel, soften it, and wipe it onto the palette’s surface. The paint may come off slightly slowly compared to the other cleaning materials, but it is still effective.

After cleaning the dirt, you may notice some residue on the surface from the oil. You can clean it by wiping the surface with a wet paper towel to remove the residue and get the job done.

Baby Wipes

using baby wipes

Baby wipes are arguably the most effective and affordable cleaning material that you can use to remove all the dirt in your oil paint palette. All you have to do is take a simple baby wipe out and start wiping all the dirt on the surface. You will be amazed by the effectiveness of the baby wipes in cleaning your oil paint palette.


Learning how to clean oil paint palette is an essential part of the painting activity. The paint palette does not come cheap. So, cleaning it right after finishing the painting session is the best thing to do to make it last longer. This article has presented different ways to remove excess paint and clean the surface of the oil paint palette efficiently.

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