Can I wet dock my airbrush? - Airbrush Guru

Can I wet dock my airbrush?

A: Don’t wet dock your airbrush.  It’s a well intentioned, but bad idea.

What exactly does “wet dock” mean?

Wet docking basically means leaving your airbrush partially submerged in cleaning solution.

It’s an old school car painter’s trick.  They leave reducer (their cleaning solution) in their spray gun’s cup.  The paint inside the spray gun stays wet and never has the opportunity to dry out.
I occasionally have people soak their airbrush tip in cleaning solution so they can pull out a  needle stuck in dried paint.

There are problems with soaking though.

  1. You never really clean out the airbrush.

    Think dirty dishes.  Would you eat off your dishes again after you’ve just left them to soak in soapy water?  As a makeup artist you’re spraying people’s faces with stuff.  To top it off, paint pigments like to settle out of suspension.  This means all the leftover pigment has accumulated at the tip of your nozzle.  The hardest place to clean and the worst location for a pigment group therapy session.

  2. While soaking in water is mostly benign soaking in other solvents is certainly NOT benign.

    Water can still attack any impurities in the stainless steel needle and nozzle.   Ammonia on the other hand will go after the chrome in the plating and then attack the brass.  It gives you this ugly, gritty, green gunky stuff (oxidized copper).

  3. Soaking tends to remove lubricants in the air valve

    However, wet docking shouldn’t allow the cleaning solution back into the air valve.  This shouldn’t be a problem, but I mention it for completeness.

  4. Disolved paint can redeposit iteself anywhere in your airbrush

    When they do they can attach themselves anywhere…say, inside the air system (that little hole back inside the front of the airbrush underneath the two caps), inside the air valve, in the back of the handle where you never clean…

The way they have you do it doesn’t really get to the paint.  All the solution is outside the paint system.  The old school car painter trick is a much better method if you’re going to do it (which I don’t recommend)