How to clean drywall tools

How to keep your drywall tools clean

Hanging and finishing drywall is a dirty job, and it’s easy for your drywall tools to devolve into rough shape while on the job as joint compound, otherwise known as mud, becomes caked onto the tools themselves. Not only is this unattractive, but it also affects the efficiency and effectiveness of your devices if you let mud accumulate and fall short to supply appropriate maintenance often. 

Understanding how to properly clean your tools will improve the lifespan of tools and keep you from needing to spend money on changing them frequently. Below are some pointers for efficiently cleaning and preserving all drywall tools in your arsenal.

When to clean your tools

The ideal time to clean your drywall tools is at the end of the day or as soon as the job is done. Drywall joint compound hardens as time passes and the mud can set on drywall tools and make it extremely challenging to eliminate. Cleaning all your tools at the same time saves time and guarantees they are prepared to go leading up to your next project.

What you'll need to clean your tools

  • 5 gallon bucket of hot water
  • Putty knife or taping knife 
  • A recipe searching pad (not a steel wool pad as this can scratch your devices). 
  • Cleaning rags/towels. 
  • Corrosion prevention spray or WD-40
  • Scrub brush.

Throughout this article we will include a few quotes from members on Drywall Talk on how they clean their tools 

Tim0282: “I clean all of the tools after each use. If we do a house in the morning and one in the afternoon, I wash them when I am done in the morning. Start with a fresh set in the afternoon. Can't stand to work with dirty tools. The mud is too corrosive to leave in the boxes. To each his own, I guess.”

1. Scrub and wash

Begin by scraping off the mud with your putty knife. Between scrapes, soak your drywall tools in a bucket for a few minutes to soften and dissolve the mud for more straightforward removal. As soon as most of the mud is scraped off, submerge the devices in the water for 10-20 minutes or until the joint compound has nearly been removed.

2. Unload and replenish

Get rid of the many tools from the pail and unload out the mud or rust-infested water. Don’t dump the water right into your kitchen sink. Instead, make use of a utility room sink if you have one. Some locations have unique ordinances concerning where you can and can’t dispose of drywall residue, so you need to inspect your neighborhood codes before you finish this action. When you have dumped the water in a safe place, fill up the container with clean, warm water.

MeatBallDryWall: “I usually clean my bazooka/roller/glazer after I"m done taping unless it's freezing outside. The pump just gets washed off with a brush (outside) & I leave the mud inside as it will not harden. My boxes might sit in water a while but I usually wash them out after each coat or job completion.”

3. Brush

Use the metal scouring pad to scrub away all the outstanding joint compound from your tools. A scrub brush will also work for this action (if you have one and don’t have a combing pad).

4. Rinse and dry

Wash your tools in the clean water and then completely dry them with a clean rag, towel, or old t-shirt asap. Make sure you dry anywhere on the devices, covering hard-to-reach areas. Wash off any joint compound from your hands and also dispose of the water once again in a safe place.

McDusty: “I have never 'cleaned' my boxes, super taper, pan, or any of the angle head tools. i store everything in water. a small plastic container holds my super-taper, pan & all angle heads. with about 2" of water, it's enough to keep any mud in there soft until the next use. my boxes & pump are stored in a 1/2 full pail of of water. i have a hole cut in a lid to the diameter of the pump so i can still put the lid on and water won't splash out during transport.”

5. Apply corrosion prevention

Wetness causes corrosion, so we now intend to spray corrosion inhibitor or WD-40 on all metal bolts on your devices. Do this in a well-ventilated location, as this spray can give off some strong fumes. Complete by rubbing out the excess spray from your tools with a clean rag.

While these are our suggestions for cleaning your tools, there are many ways to complete this process. Here are some real-life examples from tappers on Drywall Talk discussing how they clean their tools. 

Here are what some readers have said

builttoughtooltalk: Always a cleaning bucket on site. Clean with a sponge every time I mix or go for a break

roc_king_drywall: Clean them before they dry or spend twice as long. That’s all there is to it.

keystrokemacro: I always have a full bucket of water ready. Just drop tools in then wipe them off and dry them with a towel before going back to work. 30 secs vs mins.

ryanberthelette.doublerdrywall: Soak for 3 days. Then on day 3 add Mr Clean and bleach. Stir around for 30 seconds. Boom clean

keehmer_company_: Put them in a bucket of water and forget about them

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