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I used to wash roller and brush in the sink, but then I moved elsewhere and realized that doing this I clog the system, because there is a sump with a pump in it that pushes sewage into a small, narrow pipe. As it turned out, the paint from the rinses had coated the pump and disabled it.

So I searched on the Internet and the professionals recommend removing the paint with a spatula and then washing the roller in the sink. However, that's what I can't do. I could try washing the roller in buckets of water, but where would I pour it if there is no open sewer in my area?

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4 Answers 4

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I agree with Ray Butterworth that throwing the brushes and rollers away is the easiest solution with the least impact on your local sewage system. Especially if you used special water resistant paints or those with special covering properties (to cover water stains), this may be your only solution.

If you insist on cleaning the tools and you only used "normal" wall paint, the key is to remove as much paint as possible without water. Some ways to do that:

  • scrape the paint off with a spatula or piece of cardboard
  • put the rollers into an old paper or plastic bag and squeeze as much paint as possible out with your hands
  • wipe the brushes and rollers on old newspapers or paper towels

If you have any lumps of leftover paint, it's always best to let them dry and dispose of them in the garbage.

What's left of the paint after this first cleaning should be dissolved in water in several steps:

  1. Rinse the implements very thoroughly in a little amount of water. It will quickly look like the water is saturated, but that impression is wrong. Really push and work the tools in that water to dissolve as much paint as possible. This small amount of water should be either left to dry or disposed at a local recycling facility like regular paint (never pour paint into a sewer system).
  2. You can repeat cleaning the implements with old newspaper or paper towels to get as much paint as possible out.
  3. If necessary, repeat step 1 and pour the dirty water into the same container, then dispose of it as in step 1.
  4. Rinse the tools in a big amount of fresh water. At this stage most of the paint should have come out already. Regular wall paint should be so diluted now that the rinsing water can be disposed via the local sewer system.

If you think that the water after step 4 still has too much paint in it, you can let the bucket stand undisturbed for several days. Slowly the paint should form a layer of sludge at the bottom with clean water at the top. You can drain the clean water and dispose of the sludge at a local recycling facility or let it dry and throw it in the garbage.

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How perfectly does the painting need to be, how expensive are the roller and brush, and how valuable is your time?

I generally use inexpensive products and just throw them away at the end of the job.

If it's going to take a few days, wrapping the brushes and rollers in a sealed plastic bag prevents them from drying out and they can be reused the next day.

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  • You throw them away because you do not want to lose time cleaning them because you have difficulty cleaning them like me?
    – Juandev
    Apr 17, 2023 at 13:06
  • For finishing furniture or other detailed work, I'd buy good quality and clean it afterward. For painting walls, baseboards, etc., where perfection isn't so important, a cheap roller or brush works fine. Dollar-stores (or whatever the Czech equivalent is) often sell bags of brushes that end up costing two or more for a dollar. Even at minimum wage, the time it would take me to clean a brush or roller is worth more than that. (Yes, the same could be said about making home-made bread, but I enjoy baking, and the fresh product tastes better. But I get no pleasure from cleaning dirty rollers.) Apr 17, 2023 at 13:19
  • This is certainly an interesting solution to consider. But I'm writing for consideration because I don't think that rollers are cheap in the Czech Republic. The second problem is the insufficient assortment in hobby markets, where one has to go around two or three hobby markets when he wants to do some basic work. So if I decide that the trouble of cleaning a roller is not worth it and buy another one, I'm not sure if it's worth it to visit two extra shops. That's why I'd rather probably clean the old one.
    – Juandev
    Apr 17, 2023 at 14:43
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  1. Put some water in a plastic bag.
  2. Wash whatever needs to be washed.
  3. Dispose of the water in any suitable way.
  4. Dispose of the plastic bag in a suitable way.

You did not give more information, so here is another possible solution:

Instead of throwing the water in the sink, throw it in the toilet. Unless the toilet is also connected to the same (or other) pump.

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  • And that is a question, how to dispose of the water also.
    – Juandev
    Apr 17, 2023 at 13:04
  • @Juandev: For that, please ask another question - regarding the safe disposal of polluting / dangerous substances. This question is about how NOT to use the sink.
    – virolino
    Apr 17, 2023 at 14:09
  • If the waste disposal pipe is small bore, there will be a macerator on the toilet waste too. Apr 17, 2023 at 19:23
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For water based paint, clean the brushes and rollers outdoors.

Use 2 buckets: one for the cleaning and one with a supply of water. Rinse out the brush or roller in a little water several times. A little water several times, is more effective than using a lot of water just a few times.

After each clean, tip the rinse water into an empty paint can or whatever. Finally tip that water down an external drain, which is where it would go if you did the job indoors.

Note that I have seen rollers with a removeable sheath, and you throw away the sheath after each job and keep the handle and roller, not very much to clean.

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