An Essential Step for Plastic Miniature & Model Painting?

Washing miniatures and plastic modelsAre paint problems ruining your miniature masterpieces? The answer could be as simple as a wash! Discover why washing is a must before painting and how to do it right in this quick read.

You’ve got your paints, brushes, and a brand new box of Space Marines, Orks or Spitfire model but before you start with your brushes and paints, have you thought about giving them a wash? Do you need to?

Should you wash miniatures before painting

To answer the last question first is…. no, it’s not absolutely necessary to wash plastic model kits before painting. If you’re in a hurry and aren’t too worried about them, you don’t have to. But it is highly recommended.

If you skip this step, you could be setting yourself up for failure later on and my preference is to always wash them before use, in fact, it’s one of my golden model-making rules.

Why Wash Miniatures Before Painting?

Plastic miniatures — Games Workshop etc — and model kits from Tamiya, etc often come in contact with oils and mold release agents during the manufacturing process.

These substances may prevent the paint from sticking properly to the surface of the plastic, resulting in a finish that easily chips or peels away.

Washing them before painting removes these oils and mold release agents, ensuring that the paint adheres evenly and lasts longer.

Washing also helps to remove any dust, dirt, or fingerprints that may have accumulated during transportation or storage. To be honest, clearing dust that may have gotten onto the model is the primary reason I now wash them but chemicals and oils have been an issue in the past.

How to Wash Miniatures & Models Before Painting?

Washing miniatures before painting is a simple and straightforward process. You just need warm water and mild detergent. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Fill a bowl with warm water and add a drop or two of mild dish soap, like Fairy.
2. Place the plastic parts in the soapy water and, if necessary, gently scrub it with a soft-bristled brush (an old toothbrush is ideal), making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies where dust and chemicals may be hiding.
3. Rinse the miniature thoroughly with clean water to remove all soap residue.
4. Pat the miniature dry with a soft cloth or let it air dry completely before painting.


By washing your plastic kits before painting, ensures that the paint will adhere evenly and last longer. Your Space Marines will thank you for it (Orks maybe not 😀  )

I hope you found this quick guide helpful. If you have any personal tips or tricks on washing plastic kits, please share them in the comments below to help others.


Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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