Cleaning the Iwata HP-C Plus – knowing your airbrush anatomy


Food Friends, it’s been a run of eBay purchases and then returns of late. First it was the compressor that I purchased. The wrong item was delivered and the eBay store were a nightmare to deal with in getting a refund.  Then, it was the silicone piping bags that I bought; I bought two different sizes from two different sellers but the larger bags were not sent. Instead I got sent smaller bags and was asked to accept $1 Chinese Yen as a refund. I declined as $1 CY converted to 21 Australian cents. I also declined when they offered another refund of $2 CY. And finally it was the purchase of a Chinese knock-off trigger action .3mm airbrush gun that arrived and was broken. I took it apart to trouble shoot why air was continually blowing out of the nozzle and the nib broke off.

Suffice to say, I have learned my lesson when it comes to cookie/cake decorating airbrush equipment. Save yourself the $$, the time and the aggravation and just save up for a high quality airbrush gun. After I purchased the Iwata compressor and then during the cheap Chinese knock-off eBay dramas, I purchased an Iwata HP-C + dual action airgun.


I want to make it clear, the rebranded cheap Chinese knock-offs may look similar but the quality is not the same; both in manufacture and outcomes. The nibs in the cheap versions frequently have a copper thread that breaks extremely easily. The parts aren’t easily replaceable and they don’t perform in the same way. Buyer beware. You may have success with your rebranded Chinese knock-off but until you have used a high quality airbrush gun you won’t ever experience the difference. The experiences are like chalk and cheese.

No matter what you end up buying, it is important to know the anatomy of your airgun so you can take it apart and clean it. If you are meticulous and clean your airbrush gun after each use you will keep it in its optimum working condition. Additionally, if you use your airbrush gun on food, don’t use it for non-food applications. Buy a separate airbrush gun for non-food projects and keep your cake/cookie decorating airbrush gun for food.

The first thing I remove, when cleaning the HP-C+ is the preset knob. This little doodad allows me to stop the trigger from pulling back at any point. This is really helpful if I want to spray a uniform line or dots. Because the trigger will only pull back as far as I have set the knob, the spray will be exactly the same each time I pull back.

The next part that I remove is the back body which is also known as the preset handle set along with the preset knob.


The next thing to come off is the needle chucking nut.


The needle is removed next. Please be careful when removing the needle; it is easily damaged and if you have an expensive high quality airbrush gun, replacing the needle will be a costly exercise.


When I take out each part, I lay them carefully and in order on paper towel so they don’t roll away. Even though I know what order to put it all back together, I still adhere to the habit of laying the pieces out in order of removal.

This part is the spring guide.

Next comes the spring


The spring sits on the needle chucking guide with auxiliary lever.


On my cheap knock-off airbrush gun, the needle chucking guide and the auxiliary lever are two separate parts. The lever can be a difficult part to put back into the airbrush when it is a separate part. This is the last part that I remove when doing a good clean; the main lever.

Next we turn to the other end of the airbrush; the tip end. This is the needle cap; carefully unscrew it; it’s a small part and can be easily lost.


The nozzle cap is next; be careful because this part will easily roll away if dropped.


The final piece that I remove from the front end of the airbrush is the nozzle. It’s super super tiny. You will need to use the little spanner in the box, to remove it. Be super super careful and gentle when removing and reinstalling the nozzle. Don’t tighten it hard; it just needs to be tightened firmly not crazy tight.


When you’re reassembling the airbrush, put the nozzle cap and needle cap on before you put the needle in. If you choose not to do it in that order, make sure you completely reassemble the airbrush first and then depress the main lever so that the needle will retract into the gun and then put on the needle cap and nozzle cap. If you don’t protect the needle, it can easily bend or get damaged and this will affect your spray.

The other thing worth mentioning is moisture traps.


The little gadget on the right is an in-line moisture trap. They attach to the bottom end of the airbrush gun. On this Iwata, you can see that I have a quick release ‘male’ piece on the gun.  This needs to be screwed off, the moisture trap screwed on the end of the airbrush and then the quick release male piece attached to the plastic thread end of the moisture trap.

If you have an air-pump kit, you will have to have an in-line moisture trap; it will be your only defence against moisture coming up your air pump pipe and coming through your airbrush gun. You will have enormous issues if you have moisture coming through your airbrush gun. The longer you are airbrushing the hotter your pump or compressor is getting and more moisture can be created which can come through your line.

If you have an airbrush compressor, you will have an additional moisture trap that is attached to the pump where you attach the air hose to the compressor. In high humidity zones, it is still advisable to have both the compressor moisture trap and the in-line moisture trap.  You can even get disposable moisture traps.  Today was a perfect example as to why I recommend using the two moisture traps where possible. I live in a dry climate; our cooling source is evaporative cooling. Today was an usually humid day and I had the evaporative cooling on as well. I did a short amount of  airbrushing today and there was moisture in my in-line trap. This tells me that water managed to get into both moisture traps. Without those moisture traps, water would have come through my airbrush and onto my cookie. 

When cleaning your airbrush, you need to consider what your are going to clean it with. I do my initial clean with water; I don’t take it apart at this stage. I just empty the airbrush of the left over colour and then add some water into the cup and do a basic clean by spraying onto paper towel and blocking the nozzle while pressing the lever. After this basic clean is complete, I then take it apart and wipe the needle with white spirit alcohol and also the nozzle caps and nozzle.

That’s it for the run through of the anatomy of the Iwata HP-C+ for cleaning. Next time, i’ll do it with my cheap Chinese rebrand which is slightly different.

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