How to Get Already-Dried Paint Off a Paint Roller

used paint roller in bucket of pink paint
What You'll Need
Paint thinner
Adequate ventilation
Eye protection
What You'll Need
Paint thinner
Adequate ventilation
Eye protection

A good paint roller is a great tool to have, so when one of yours has been improperly stored and is caked with dried on paint, it can be tough to part with it. Thankfully, there are steps you can follow to remove the dried paint, clean the roller, and restore it for reuse.

Step 1 - Know Your Paint

Be aware of the properties of the dried paint. Different paints respond well to different cleaning methods, which can be discovered by consulting with the manufacturer.

Additionally, when it comes to the cleanup and disposal of used paint, certain types, such as alkyd paint, require special care. In some areas, alkyd paints are considered hazardous and must be disposed of via proper hazardous waste collection.

Step 2 - Disassemble

Many rollers are capable of being broken apart by design. This is helpful since the absorbent, paint-soaked roller will obviously need special attention and a different cleaning method than the plastic, wood, or metal pieces that make up the handle.

Step 3 - Soak the Roller

Begin by soaking just the roller. Many times you will be able to get the paint off easily with only half an hour or so of soaking in soap and water. Once it has soaked, use a towel to roll it out a few times, and then check to see if there's any paint or moisture remaining.

Step 4 - Let It Dry

Even when all of the paint is gone, drying the roller is important. You wouldn't want to save the tool for reuse only to roll mold out onto your walls that next time you paint.

Step 5 - Paint Thinner

While this method is bound to work, you may want to use it only as a last resort. Whenever you are using paint thinner, move outdoors, as the smell is strong and can be dangerous if you inhale it for too long. Use a little bit of paint thinner on a paper plate or even a rag and cover the roller with it. Then rinse the rollers off and let them dry thoroughly.

Step 6 – Keep Them Clean

Now that you have them cleaned off, make sure that you keep them that way. When not being used, the clean roller should be dried and wrapped in heavy paper or newspaper for storage. During future uses, clean off the brushes or soak them immediately after each use to avoid any further hassles with dried, caked-on paint.

Get Dried Paint Off a Roller FAQ

How do you rehydrate paint rollers?

Paint rollers can be rehydrated. Fill a bucket with a few drops of cleaning solution and warm water.

Soak the roller for at least an hour. This will not clean the brush, but it will soften it up enough so that it can be cleaned and re-used.

Can you reuse a paint roller without washing it?

You can re-use paint rollers, which can actually save you some money. To do so, scrape the roller after it has been used and then enclose it inside of a sealed plastic bag.

You don't want the roller to dry out, so keeping it in this bag will help to keep it moist. You can also store the roller in the refrigerator, still in the bag, to keep it fresher longer.

Can you leave paint roller in water overnight?

Paint rollers do need moisture in order to stay fresh and keep from drying out but soaking them in water, especially for an extended amount of time, can cause them damage.

What to do with paint roller in between coats overnight?

When you can finish a painting project all in one day and you're still using the same color, you don't want your paint roller to dry out while it's not in use. Dip the roller in paint and then wrap it completely in plastic to hold in the moisture.

Store the roller in a cool place, like the refrigerator, until it's ready to be used again.

How do professional painters clean their brushes?

Professional painters often use special chemical solvents in order to clean paint brushes and rollers. Mineral spirits and turpentine both clean paint very well.

One of these formulas, added to warm water, effectively cleans rollers and brushes. Brushes and rollers can be soaked for several moments, then gently washed and rinsed off.

Brushes are stored in plastic so they will not dry out.