For many modelers the airbrush is one of the most significant tools that they possess, and it can also be one of the most finicky tools. If not kept clean then the airbrush will not provide the “quality” paint job for which it was purchased in the first place. We all have our accessories for cleaning these devices and I found a “cleaning set” by Iwata that combines a number of these tools into one package. Don’t tell the Iwata folks but I also use a Grex, a Badger, and a Passche, and I’ve found that the Iwata Cleaning Kit works on all of the airbrushes.
The price varies from around $20 to $28.95, the former being a “sale” price and the later being the MSRP. Do some shopping and you’ll find a low price. Also be aware that these items are popular and it is not uncommon to find them “out of stock”.
Inside the plastic box are some items that you’ll recognize and some that you won’t, so let’s look at each item and its purpose.
- A set of instructions: The instructions are printed on a piece of paper, front and back, and in full color. The instructions describe each of the cleaning products in the product and show those products in use in color images. While the instructions refer to how the product should be used to clean an Iwata airbrush it is easy to make some cross product inferences and to use it with those airbrushes I mentioned that were sitting on my painting table.
- A 1 fl oz bottle of Airbrush Cleaner: This liquid is an odorless, colorless liquid that should be sprayed through the airbrush between color changes or at the end of the painting session.
- One package of 12 wet wipes, labeled as “Artool Studio Wipes”: The illustrations in the instructions show the wipes being used to clean off any remaining residue from the needle. The wipes do not leave fibers behind on the needle, and if your airbrush doesn’t have a needle, like my Passche, they can be used to clean the paint flow control parts as well as the exterior of airbrush. Being a cheapsake, I reuse the same wipe several times, using as small an area of the wipe as possible and discarding it when I think it is too gross to use again. I have some old pill containers with snap-on lids in which the used wipes are stored until their turn is over.
- One Iwata Nozzle Wrench: This small “wrench” is used to remove or tighten the nozzle with damaging it. It fits all Iwata and NEO airbrushes except the Iwata Eclipse Series and the NEO TRN2 Side-Feed Trigger airbrush. Of course, I have the Eclipse so the wrench is not with that airbrush, but it is compatible with my Grex XT. Removing the screw-in nozzle on that Grex is now an easy thing to do.
- Three Microbrushes: These micro brushes will fit into the smallest openings on the airbrush. The bristles are wrapped around a metal core so there is some strength and rigidity to the brushes, but one will need to be gentle with them as they can be easily bent.
- One tube of “SuperLube”: The instructions call for the application of a drop on the needle at the point at which the taper begins on the “tip” end of the needle. The SuperLube will enhance the smooth back/forth action of the needle, and will prevent “needle stick”.
- One LED magnifier: Slide the workings into position by gently pulling on the two finger-holds indicated on the Magnifier and the LED is activated. Once the workings have been exposed there is a very small slide switch that can be set to turn on the LED white light or activate the LED blue light. The magnifying lenses will allow you to inspect the needle tip and some of the inner spaces to make sure they are free of paint and are in good physical condition.
- A bundle of pipe cleaners: These pipe cleaners are the standard 5 inch jobbies one can buy in the tobacco section of various stores. Again, being a cheapskate I generally cut my pipe cleaners in half and don’t discard the half until both ends have been used.
I highly recommend this product. . It makes the “Airbrush Flush” ( my name for the job of cleaning the airbrush after use) easy, quick, and effective. All in all this airbrush cleaning kit is an excellent buy for the buck. The fact that all the small bits are contained in one plastic box makes your workbench a cleaner, neater space. The fact that the items can be used on airbrushes other than Iwata makes it even more desirable. Thanks to Tom Grossman, Iwata and Tag Team Hobbies for the sample.