How to DEEP CLEAN your Gouache Travel Palette

How to clean gouache travel palette

Do you use a gouache travel palette? If so you know how messy they get! I usually deep clean my palette every few months. In this post I’ll show you step by step how to clean, mix, renew your gouache from dry and filthy to new! I will also tell you everything I know about preserving your palette so it lasts a long time.

Gouache Travel Palette – my supplies

Prefer to watch the process?

Step-by-Step process for cleaning your gouache travel palette

  1. Clean the outside and lid of the palette. You may need to soak the silicone seal. When cleaning the silicone, be gentle! Silicone breaks down over time and you want it to last as long as possible.
  2. If the silicone is sticky, that means oils have built up on the surface. You can use any of the following to remove the oils:
    1. Dishwashing detergent with a degreaser
    2. Diluted distilled white vinegar
    3. Baking soda and water
  3. To clean the surface of the gouache of unwanted color mixes, with a soft absorbent brush, gently dab the surface of each color with clean water. This also softens the gouache. Remove any colors or debris that shouldn’t be there. Use the brush to absorb and remove excess water.
  4. After all the colors are “clean” spritz the whole thing with clean water so that each one is shiny but not drowning, then add the silicone seal, close the lid and let it soak overnight.
  5. The next day, open and remove any excess water with your soft brush.
  6. With a toothpick or similar, mix up each color. You can press the clumps against the plastic to break them up. If they are extra clumpy still, add a little more water and let it soak longer. Extra dry colors may take a few rounds of soaking. But add water sparingly so as not to over-water. If you over-water it, you’ll need to leave the lid off so the extra water can evaporate. It’s a delicate balance and takes some close observation and care!
  7. After each color is smooth again, you can refill any of the wells that are running low. I prefer to keep each well 1/2 full. I do not fill them to the brim, because when the silicone seal is added, it goes down into the well. If they are too full, the colors will be forced upwards when the seal is applied, and spread into each other.
Gently scrub the silicone seal
Clove bud oil can help prevent mold growth
Break up the dried clumps of gouache

How to prevent mold in your gouache travel palette

  1. Add a few drops of clove bud oil to your small spray bottle/mister. Spritz the surface of each color once (twice if you have any colors that tend to attract mold). Use sparingly! Too much will cause the gouache to be too gooey.
    1. To give you a point of reference, I once added a whole drop to every single color, then mixed it in. This was overkill! But it didn’t harm it. I find it more useful to add the oil to water then spritz.
  2. Note: not all gouache encourages mold growth! I have never experienced it, because I use my palette often. This is key. If you keep it closed for long periods of time, and the interior is wet, this may encourage mold growth. So the best course of action is to open it once a week, give it a little stir, spritz with clean water if it looks dry, and close. Don’t go too long between doing this.
  3. I have heard M.Graham gouache encourages mold growth more than others (based on dozens of comments on my videos. I have never used it, but if you do, you may benefit from the clove bud oil.

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I'm an independent artist living in Scotland. Always chasing the light, and painting the beautiful highlands.

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