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Washwisely with Resene WashWise

The Resene WashWise system separates paint wash, such as from cleaning up paint brushes, into paint solids and water/paint liquids.

These can then be separately disposed of or reused in a more environmentally friendly manner than washing it all down the drain. Ideal for waterborne paints, excluding metallics.

Resene Washwise

Resene WashWish Mini System

There are two Resene WashWise options available:

Resene WashWise units are available for ordering through your Resene ColorShop. WashWise container units are made from 80% recycled plastic.

How do they work?

Both work by containing the paint wash from cleaning up and rinsing brushes, settling out the solids after the addition of two chemicals, allowing removal of the top clear liquid layer, and leaving behind the paint solids sludge.

The chemicals added are small amounts of cloudy ammonia (a very low percentage ammonia solution, just like bleach) which adjusts the pH to make the next chemical work more efficiently, and Resene WashWise Flocculent (PAC, commonly used in water treatment), which clumps the paint solids together and drops them to the bottom.

The clear layer is then a mixture of water and the liquid parts of paint such as dyes. It can be reused to wash more brushes or drained onto a wide surface like a lawn, or into sewerage. It shouldn’t go into grey water systems or near natural waterways. The solids left over may be relatively dry or a wet slurry, depending on the individual batch of paint wash and what type of paint was used. They are nontoxic and can be disposed of through your regular rubbish service. If needed, they can be solidified further using Resene WashWise crystals (nontoxic, used in gardening) or left to dry after being tipped onto newspaper.

How the Resene WashWise system works to clean up from painting

Resene WashWise - Large System, interior

Resene WashWise - Large System

Resene WashWise – Large System

The Resene WashWise – Large system comes with:

Additional chemicals may be purchased through your local Resene ColorShop.

How to use the Resene WashWise – Large system

These instructions are for treating wash at the fill line level. See the table below for approximate volumes of Cloudy Ammonia and Resene WashWise Flocculent to add if the wash is below this level.

Step 1: Add 600ml of Cloudy Ammonia and stir aggressively.
Step 2: Add 600ml of Resene WashWise Flocculent and stir aggressively.
Step 3: Check for separation. This should be visible after 30 minutes. Add an extra 200ml of Resene WashWise Flocculent if no change noticed.
Step 4: Leave overnight.
Step 5: Attach a waste pipe to the outlet tap and direct the other end to sewerage, a flat surface or lawn away from stormwater drains or natural water sources, or to a waste container. The height of the internal pipe can be adjusted.
Step 6: Open the tap and run off clear/thin coloured waste water. This is a mixture of water, paint liquids, colourants, and other liquid parts of paint. Do not release to stormwater systems.
Step 7: After separation, stir the sludge at the bottom of the bin.
Step 8: Use the manual pump to pump up the slurry into one of the filter bags. When the filter bag is full, move to the next filter bag etc. Allow to drain. Squeezing the filter bag will speed this process.
Step 9: Lift out filter bags and empty into waste for disposal. Rinse the filter bag back into the unit.
Step 10: Repeat as necessary. Refill when enough liquid has been removed, or pump any remaining slurry into waste containers for later treatment or drying if unit needs to be completely emptied.
Waste wash Cloudy Ammonia Resene WashWise Flocculent
Fill line 600 ml 600 ml
Two thirds 400 ml 400 ml
One third 200 ml 200 ml

The volumes of the Cloudy Ammonia and Resene WashWise Flocculent may be adjusted to suit. How much is needed will depend on individual use – how much water there is versus paint, what sort of paint etc. Try using more or less of each, or even excluding the Cloudy Ammonia, to help your Resene WashWise unit be more efficient and economical.

Top WashWise tips to save you time!

  1. Brush or roll out excess paint onto newspaper or similar before washing.

  2. Wrap brushes, rollers and roller trays with paint in plastic cling wrap or an airtight plastic bag while you are on breaks or overnight. This will keep the paint moist.

  3. Different paint products will react differently to the treatment – don’t be surprised if one batch is sloppy and another relatively dry.

  4. Dilution of waste water (i.e. the amount of paint waste in liquid) will also impact significantly on the treatment process. As you gain experience, you’ll gain familiarity with how this impacts on the treatment.

  5. Dispose of ‘grey water’ responsibly only into sewer drains (not stormwater drains). Common sewer connections are drains inside buildings, such as the laundry tub or toilet. Any external drains are most commonly storm water connections and should NOT be discharged into.

  6. The recovered solids are pH neutral and make excellent mulching material. Alternatively, wrap sludge/solids and dispose of with your normal rubbish to landfill.

  7. Never place solventborne or two pack products into the barrel.

  8. Some strong colours, such as blues and reds, can tinge the treated liquid colour due to the high dye levels.

  9. Where possible, process your waste water onsite to impress your customers.

  10. Don’t use it in the back of your van!

  11. Leave leftover colours with your customers clearly marked with the colour name and area of use.

Remember to recycle unwanted paint and paint packaging with Resene PaintWise. For more details see your Resene ColorShop staff, or the Resene PaintWise brochure.

An easy to use cleaning system

This system is based on the use of two containers in which brushes, roller sleeves and other equipment are first washed and then rinsed. By rotating the containers the solids in the paint are separated from the liquid making it easier to dispose of each component.

Follow these steps:

For solventborne paints:

  • At the end of the job wipe or squeeze excess paint onto an absorbent material, such as old rags, shredded newspapers or cardboard boxes.

  • Allow to dry and dispose of with household waste.

  • Wash brushes, rollers and other equipment with mineral turps in a large metal container/paint can.

  • Use the least amount of solvent possible.

  • The most effective method is to use a roller spinner.

  • Transfer the washed equipment to a second metal container filled with clean mineral turps for a final rinse

  • Place lids on the containers or cover in some other secure manner and allow to stand overnight.

Cleaning up solventborne paints

Allow at least 24 hours for the paint solids in the first container to settle down to the bottom of the container.

Keep the clear mineral turps and use it to top up the second container or decant and keep for future use.

Now to dispose of the paint solids at the bottom of the first container...

Scrape the paint solids out onto absorbent material, such as old rags, shredded newspapers or cardboard boxes. Allow to dry, then place in a plastic bag and dispose of with the household rubbish or take directly to the nearest council tip.

The second container now can be used as the first wash. Use this rotation system until the job is completed.


Never allow waste water or chemical solvents from washed paint equipment to enter household or stormwater drains or sewers. The waste may find its way into natural waterways where it can reduce oxygen levels and threaten the survival of fish and other aquatic organisms.

Planning ahead

It’s a good idea to keep a container of ‘dirty turps’ on hand for cleaning purposes. Kept in the original container and in a safe place, you will be able to reuse the solvent time and time again. Remember not to shake it up as this will disturb the paint solids, which will have settled to the bottom of the container.

Make a sustainable choice with Resene


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