How to Clean a Glass Paint Palette for Oil or Acrylic Painting

By Milan Art Institute on November 2, 2020
How to Clean a Glass Paint Palette for Oil or Acrylic Painting

Learning how to clean a paint palette is critical for artists. A glass paint palette that hasn’t been properly cleaned makes it impossible for you to see the colors clearly, which in turn, makes your paintings look inaccurate at best and muddy at worst. 

Fortunately, cleaning your glass paint palette for oil painting (or acrylic painting if that’s your medium) is a pretty easy affair. The basic principle of this art tip works for multiple types of art media.

Before You Clean an Oil or Acrylic Paint Palette 

Before we teach you how to clean your oil or acrylic paint palette, there are some things to keep in mind. This tutorial explains how to clean a glass paint palette. It doesn’t cover how to clean a plastic or wooden palette.

Additionally, this is the type of painter’s palette that we teach you how to make in the Mastery Program. While the top of the palette is made of glass, it may not be the kind of paint palette you're used to. 

That being said, most of the general principles will apply to cleaning a paint palette made from glass, so this mini-tutorial should still be useful to you. This technique should clean both dried acrylic paint and dried oil paint from your palette. 

It's an effective cleaning method if you've used a medium with your paints, like linseed oil or galkyd. 

Video caption: If you want to see how to clean your painting palette, watch this video. 

How to Clean a Palette: Tools and Supplies You’ll Need

  • Exacto knife or razor
  • Spray bottle
  • Water or alcohol (depends on the type of paint)

Steps to Cleaning Your Paint Palette

Step 1: Secure Your Palette

Make sure that your palette is secure and won’t slide around on the table. 

When we teach our students to make a painter’s palette, we teach them to affix a large piece of glass to a heavy board using duct tape. This makes the palette sturdy and weighs it down when it’s being cleaned.

That being said, you should make sure that your palette sits on a dry surface and doesn’t move very easily.

Step 2: Spray It With Water or Alcohol and Let It Sit

If you’re cleaning a painter’s palette that has acrylic paint on it, spraying it with water is enough. However, if you’ve used oil paints, you’ll want to spray the glass with rubbing alcohol. 

Let the solution sit for a couple of minutes. 

Step 3: Scrape the Paint Off With the Razor

Once the water or alcohol has softened up the paint on your palette, scrape the paint off with the Exacto Knife. Make sure to keep your hands out of the way.

Scrape the glass paint palette with the razor until all the paint comes off. You can wipe it off with a towel after the cleaning job is done.

More Tips for Cleaning Your Painter’s Palette

Sometimes, the local Dollar Store sells spray bottles. Otherwise, you can find them at stores, like Walmart or the local hardware store.

If you’re an ardent urban sketcher or plein air painter, it’s possible to find a pochade box with a glass palette so that you can take a painting adventure. 

Just as you would with your brushes, you'll want to take the time to clean your palette before each painting session. Avoid trying to use this technique if you still have wet paint on your glass paint palette.

Learn More Art Tricks and Tips

How To Draw a Self Portrait

7 Things Artists Should Know When Choosing Their Brush

How to Remove Paint from Your Clothes 

Milan Art Institute
Milan Art Institute

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