How to Clean Oil Paint Palette Quickly and Easily

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When painting with any type of paint, it is best to use a palette. The problem with a paint palette is that it needs to be cleaned after each use, which can be a real pain.

But, cleaning the palette ensures that it is ready to use for your next painting. If you don’t clean it each time you paint, you will end up spending a lot of money buying new palettes all the time.

Cleaning oil paint on an artist palette can be challenging because oil paint has a thick and viscous consistency that can dry and harden over time. 

When left on the palette, the paint can form a film or crust, making it difficult to remove. Additionally, the pigments used in oil paint can be stubborn and adhere strongly to the palette surface.

So, how do you clean an oil paint palette? That is what you are going to learn about today in this post. 

Here are the step by step instructions:

#1. Get All The Tools You Need

There are only a couple of tools you will need to clean oil paint off palette. It is important to have a pilot knife or a silicone knife.

You will also need to have some type of cleaning material. In this case, it will be a type of thinner, an all-purpose cleaner, olive oil, or even baby wipes.

#2. Don’t Wait to Clean Your Palette

It is a good idea to get into the habit of cleaning your oil paint palette immediately after you are finished painting. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is going to be to clean.

It is all too tempting to sit down and relax after working on a painting rather than cleaning your palette. But, the sooner you clean it, the better, especially if you are using a wooden palette.

A palette made from wood is more difficult to clean than one that is made of acrylic or plastic. The paint can get stuck into the pores of the wood, and it can be quite hard to remove at the best of times.

Also, when you do not clean an oil paint palette right away, it can cause damage to the palette. 

You will have to do a lot more scraping, which is going to scratch the palette. Over time, it will be almost impossible to clean the palette when there is a lot of damage.

#3. Remove Excess Paint

The first step in the cleaning process is to remove any excess paint that is still on the palette after you finish painting. This gets rid of any paint that can’t be salvaged and reused later on.

You can get rid of the excess paint with a pilot knife. You can clean a wooden paint palette by simply scraping the excess paint off the palette and tossing it into the trash.

If the paint is spread out on the palette, you can use a silicone knife to get rid of it. This baking tool has many uses that are not just for the kitchen!

Using a silicone knife makes the job go a lot faster because this type of knife will give you more coverage. It is larger than a pilot knife, so you can clean the paint quickly and easily.

Make sure you also know how to dispose of oil paints safely.

#4. Clean the Surface of the Palette

Now it is time to finish the job by cleaning the surface of the oil paint palette. You can use one of four cleaners for this step: a thinner, olive oil, all-purpose cleaners, and baby wipes.


An odorless paint thinner is the ideal cleaning solution for an oil paint palette. Chances are you already use paint thinner, because it is something you use regularly for oil painting.

Pour a bit of thinner onto a piece of paper towel and then rub it into the palette. The thinner will eat away at the paint and then you can wipe it off easily. This is how you can clean dried oil paint off a plastic palette.

Once you have removed all of the paint, use a clean paper towel to clean and dry the surface of the palette.

You can also use paint thinner to remove oil paint from clothes and carpet.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is often used to clean oil paint palettes. Since it is likely that you already have olive oil in your pantry, it isn’t going to cost you anything to use it.

Put some olive oil on a piece of paper towel. Soften it for a few seconds, and then wipe the oil directly onto the paint palette. This method takes a bit longer than other methods, but it is just as effective.

Once you clean off the dirt, you will likely need to get rid of the oily residue. This can be done easily by simply wiping the surface of the palette with a piece of wet paper towel.

All-Purpose Cleaner

Another way to clean your oil paint palette is by using an all-purpose cleaner. These products are generally inexpensive, and they are safe to use as long as you are wearing protective gloves.

Apply the cleaner directly to the paint palette, and let it go to work at getting rid of the surface dirt. Once all of the dirt is removed, simply wipe the palette clean with a piece of paper towel.

Baby Wipes

My favorite method of cleaning an oil paint palette is to use baby wipes. This is probably the most effective way to clean a palette.

Take a baby wipe out of the package and rub it all over the paint that is on the palette. In most cases, the paint will come off easily and you won’t have to do a lot of rubbing.


Cleaning up after a painting party can be a daunting task. I can’t stress enough how important it is to clean an oil paint palette after each use. No matter what type of paint you are using, you should always clean the palette immediately after finishing your work.

The cleaner you keep your palette, the less often it will need to be replaced, Since they can be quite costly, it is best to make sure that you keep your palette as clean as possible each time you use it.

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*image by Nomadsoul1/depositphotos