If you’ve ever encountered a clogged spray paint can, you know how frustrating it can be. It can happen to anyone, with any brand, any color, and any valve system. However, with the right technique and some simple tools, you should be able to easily unclog your can with a few easy tricks.

First, you need to diagnose the problem, If it seems your spray paint won’t work even after shaking it and putting new caps on it, you may have a clogged valve system. This is caused by thick solidified pigment getting stuck in the paint tube and having no way to escape.

This can happen for a few different reasons, but most of them are completely out of your control. There are a few different ways to help mitigate running into this frustrating problem.

  1. Store your paint in a room temperature-controlled environment, exposure to extreme heat and extreme cold can cause harm to the paint inside your cans.
  2. Make sure you rotate your cans. Spray paint has expiration dates and the longer it sits the more likely you’re going to run into problems.
  3. Shake your cans.
  4. Shake your cans even more. The more you shake your cans the more chance you have for the paint, pigments, and solvents to all be properly mixed inside your can before spraying. Do it for a whole 3 minutes. Make sure you hear the paint mixer ball shaking around, sometimes really clogged cans will have the ball stuck and you won’t hear any rattling. One way to fix this is hitting your can on a soft blunt surface such as the heel of your foot. Be careful not to hit anything sharp as you don’t want to puncture your can.

Now if you have shaken your cans for 3 minutes and still have no luck, you need to make sure you’re using the fattest cap you have in your arsenal.

The cap below on the left is a Bombing Science Fat Cap, and to the right is a Skinny Cream Cap. If you look closely at the green mark you will see the orange fat caps stem opening is much wider than the skinny cremes stem. The blue tape is just there to help illuminate the stem widths. This is what controls the output and allows for paint to travel out. The wider the stem opening, the fatter the spray, and the more narrow the stem, the skinnier the spray.

For unclogging your cans, you will want the widest and biggest stem opening so the trapped pigment can escape. So aim for some of the following caps:

  1. Super Yellow Fat Cap
  2. Bombing Science Fat Cap
  3. Pink Fat Cap

Now once you got that fatcap on try spraying! Paint should come out, but be mindful that you may also end up clogging your fat cap in the process, so be ready to rotate the caps out if they start clogging. Once the stuck pigment is cleared it’s best to shake for another 3 minutes and spray some more to make sure the valve is clear. Be sure the can is spraying a nice mist, it might be chunky or stringy at first.

If for some reason that fat cap didn’t unclog your can, there’s also another trick you can try. It takes a bit more effort than just using a fat cap. First, use a pair of pliers to remove the fan tip of a Caligraphy Red cap. You can also use a Needle cap or a Transversal cap if you don’t have these. All it takes is a slight pull with some pliers to pull out the fan/needle tip.

Next, you’re going to want to take a razor blade or an exacto knife and cut the stem of the cap just a little bit so it is nice and wide like a fat cap. Don’t cut too much or it won’t have enough stem to sit properly on the can.

Voila now your calligraphy cap has a nice wide stem just like the fatcaps, but also an unimpeded opening at the top.

Put this newly made DIY de-clogger cap on your clogged can and spray away. Be sure to do this outside as it will great a huge mess.

With the help of different types of caps, unclogging a spray can be a breeze. Saving you paint and money that you can use for any project. Remember to always wear protective gear and work in a well-ventilated area!