How To Unclog Your Airbrush

The Haunted Housewife - How To Unclog Your Airbrush

 Giiiiiiirl. There’s nothing more frustrating when getting ready to slay your makeup gamethan having your airbrush either not work at all or even worse: splatter makeup in your face.

Before you decide to completely replace your airbrush gun because it is clogged, read this post.

I have clogged multiple airbrushes multiple times because I’m in a hurry and I don’t clean it when I’m done. Let me give you some tips on how to unclog your airbrush.

Prevention is Key

The best thing you can do for your airbrush is clean it well after each use. Make a note of that, and make it a habit. I have both a Dinair and a Belletto and I use both names interchangeably in this post. Both guns are almost exactly alike, and I’ve tried these things for both machines!


When you are done with your makeup, put in a few drops of the cleaner that came with your airbrush. No cleaner? No problem. The cleaner that came with my Dinair brush was essentially just citric acid so white vinegar is a good substitute. This should be done after each use, if you can! Now let’s unclog your airbrush!

The Big Idea

  1. add a few drops of  ____ into airbrush cup
  2. back bubble (cover the tip with your finger and let the bowl bubble up)
  3. use a q-tip and remove makeup from bowl
  4. test the airbrush
  5. if it’s working, great! If not, let’s try another thing on the list below

Fill in the blank with one of these!

Things To Try

  • Water
  • Cleaner that came with your airbrush or white vinegar
  •  Alcohol
  • Acetone (nail polish remover)
  • Mineral Spirits (paint thinner) *not as scary as it sounds!*
  • CLR

I don’t mean to state the obvious here, but when you’re done cleaning in make sure your cleaner of choice is completely cleaned out of the cup! It wouldn’t be fun to turn on your airbrush and get sprayed in the face with acetone, or mineral spirits!
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Back-bubbling happens when you cover the tip of the airbrush gun with your finger while you pull back on the trigger to let the cup bubble with cleanser. (Yes, it was very hard doing it with one hand for the picture!) 
Let me also add that the vinegar seems to react with the makeup a bit, this might show you exactly why it’s helpful as a cleaner!
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You may also want to try completely taking it apart and soaking the pieces in vinegar overnight.
 
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Refer to this guide when taking it apart and putting it back together!

Dinair also has loads of videos to help you troubleshoot your airbrush! Refer to these videos for help!

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Completely different issue – My makeup is “splattering” on my face!

This has happened to me more times than I care to admit, and the cause of this is almost always the same. At one point, nothing worked and I needed to contact Dinair support. They called this “dry tip”; the makeup gets caked and dried at the tip of the airbrush and causes the makeup “spit” out of the nozzle.

The Solution: Remove the needle completely, and clean the caked on makeup from the tip using solution or one of the above products. I’ve found that if you use your fingernails and “pinch” the tip, using your nails to scrape off the makeup you cannot see, the problem is almost always solved.



If you’re still having issues with your airbrush, refer to the manufacturer for troubleshooting before you replace it. I hope this helps you unclog your airbrush! 

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Photo credit: Vancouver Film School / Foter / CC BY

August 7, 2014

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  • Amber Brunson

    Thank you for the info. Do you happen to know what size the dinair airbrush’s needle and nozzle is? I tried this and every other trouble shooting I could and I’ve discovered my nozzle is clogged in a way that just isn’t going to come clean ever, or it’s damaged. I want to replace the needle and nozzle but I can’t get anyone from customer service to email me back. I’ve looked around online and the answers vary from .2mm to .4mm. I’m not very familiar with airbrush guns before I got my dinair so I was hoping someone who has a few different ones might know. Thanks for your time.

    • Hi Amber! My Dinair equipment doesn’t have a size printed on it, so I can’t confirm! From what I see online it appears the Dinair pieces may be .4mm. Yours could be damaged or bent, in which case you’d be better off just replacing the entire gun piece. They’re not very inexpensive, $50, just be sure to clean regularly and take really good care of it!

      • Amber Brunson

        Thank you so much!

  • Kelly Thompson

    I can confirm that the Dinair needle is 0.3 mm. Needle. Thank you for posting this, I have had this spatter issue for what seems like a month now. I take my airbrush apart every day and clean it to the point that I am militant about it and it STILL splatters. I do tattoo makeup coverage (yay) so its thicker and more a pain in the 🙂 than any of my other makeup. I am going to try this vinegar soak as my last ditch effort before I throw this gun away. Thank you for posting.