Are Paint Rollers Reusable – The Ultimate Guide

Whether you paint a room in your own home once in a while or regularly paint other people’s houses for a living, you have probably wondered whether you can use paint rollers more than once.

Yes! Paint rollers are reusable. Most of the time, you can wash a roller and reuse it later on. How many times you can reuse the roller depends on the quality of the roller and how much painting you put it through.

In this article, we will look at factors that go into reusing paint rollers and whether or not it is worth your time to do so.

Can Paint Roller Covers Be Reused?

Paint roller covers are the fuzzy part of the brush that spreads paint on surfaces. You can easily remove covers from the roller frame, wash them, and reuse these covers at least once. Cheap roller covers don’t last long, but higher-quality roller covers do.

Reusing roller covers has many benefits, such as saving money or being able to prep the roller for your next paint job in advance.

used paint roller

Should You Clean Paint Rollers or Throw Them Away?

Considering that you can get a lot more use out of the rollers, throwing them away after just one use seems to make little sense. However, you also have to decide whether or not washing rollers for reuse is worth the effort. 

Most DIYers and professional painters agree that you should clean and reuse paint rollers at least once. Even though some people might consider the chore of washing rollers to be tedious, it is a simple and quick way to save money.

How Many Times Can I Reuse a Paint Roller?

Knowing that rollers can be reused is excellent news, but how many times can you reuse them? Twice? Three times?

Depending on the extent of your painting projects and the quality of the roller, you should be able to use them at least twice and as many as five times. 

reusable paint roller

Cleaning your rollers for reuse will save you a store trip when you need to paint again.

How to Reuse Paint Rollers

Now that we have taken a look at why it makes sense to reuse rollers at least once—and many times more if you can—you are probably thinking about how exactly to go about reusing rollers.

Reusing paint rollers is as simple as removing excess paint, thoroughly cleaning without harming the fabric, drying, and storing for future use. Keep in mind that this task is more difficult with oil-based paint than with water-based paint.

Here is the step-by-step process we recommend to reuse your rollers:

Remove the Excess Paint

Once you are almost done painting, try to use as little paint as possible for the final strokes. This way, you will have less excess paint from rollers later. 

Using a 5-in-1 painter’s tool, place the curved side of the tool against the roller. Apply pressure as you push it down to force the paint off the roller and into a paint bucket. You can also use old newspapers to eliminate excess paint, but this will take longer.

Thoroughly Clean the Roller Fabric

The best process for properly getting your roller clean depends on what types of paint you’re using. Latex paint is easier to clean than oil-based paint, for instance, but they will both come off with a bit of effort.

For latex paint, all you should need is soap and water. Submerge the roller in soapy water and let it sit there for a few minutes. Swirl it around in the water while squeezing it to force as much out as possible. Rinse the roller and repeat the process until you get it clean.

For oil-based paint, using soapy water might get some paint off, but it isn’t enough. Use paint thinner, mineral spirits, or another solvent instead. 

Pour solvent into a paint tray and roll your paint roller in it. Once it is clean enough, finish off by washing it in soapy water, just like with latex paint. Always wear rubber gloves when working with solvents, as they can irritate your skin and cause dermatitis.

Dry the Paint Roller

Just like with any fabric post-wash, paint rollers have to dry. In theory, you could put your roller in a washing machine. But if you used solvents to clean the roller, this can damage both the roller and the washing machine. 

Instead, just hang your paint roller on a clothesline to dry naturally. You can use string from one end to another to hang it up in a way that will keep it there until dry.

Store your Paint Roller

After going through the trouble of washing and drying a roller to be used later, don’t just throw it in a corner somewhere to get dusty and dirty. 

Put your roller in a plastic bag to protect it from debris, then store it with your other painting supplies so that it is handy and clean once you need it.

dirty paint roller

How to Make Paint Rollers Last

Some people might use a paint roller once and throw it away, but they are literally throwing money away. Having to buy a new roller every time you have to paint might not seem like such a big deal to some. But if you paint a lot, it adds up over time.

These tips can help you make your paint rollers last as long as possible:

  • Wash paint rollers immediately after using them. Letting the paint dry on the roller—and then letting it stay that way for a prolonged period of time—can affect their longevity.
  • Invest in a paint roller washer to avoid damaging your rollers. This innovative invention makes washing paint rollers a breeze to ensure they last as long as possible. Even if you do not paint as often as you would like to, a paint roller washer will eventually pay for itself as you get more out of your rollers.
  • If you use paint rollers more than once, pieces of fabric may begin to come off. Use a pair of scissors to clip these off to keep them from affecting your roller’s performance and lifespan.

How to Make a Paint Roller Soft Again

If you left your roller just lying around for a few hours or days after a paint job, it might have gotten hard. Don’t worry—you can still reuse it.

The process of making a paint roller soft is the same as washing and drying it normally. Once you wash the hardened paint off of the fabric, the roller should soften again.

If you used latex paint, wash the roller in soapy warm water. You might want to add fabric softener for even better results. 

With oil-based paint, use a solvent like mineral spirits. Just do so away from flames or sparks, as solvents can catch fire. Dry your roller on a clothesline and it should be soft enough to use again.


Paint rollers are reusable, and it makes sense to use them as many times as you can to save money. Just follow this advice when washing both latex and oil-based paint off your rollers to get the most out of them.