Gaming on a Budget: Cleaning with, but not Sniffing, Glue

Greetings HoP followers.  I’m back again.  Sorry for missing last week, but the HoP Idol duties I had as well as wrapping up a bow on my MBA* last week took me out of commission. 

Today, I’ve got a bizarre tip for cleaning non-porous surfaces that I’ve developed over the years in this hobby.  Frequent readers of this column will already know of my love for buying Elmer’s white glue in bulk.  In addition to saving me money on glue, this also gives me enough of a surplus to get weird with it and find other uses for it such as this hot cleaning tip.

apparently the cow’s name is Elmer.  His female counterpart is Elsie.  The more you know….

Having not taken the plunge into the world of wet palettes, I’m still living in the dark ages of good old fashioned non-porous plastic palettes.  While I could easily use blister packs for this, I’m really a fan of having individual cells to mix paint (and especially washes) in. 

messy messy

Now the problem here is that leftover paint eventually starts to build up and can even absorb and dry out additional layers of paint that I work with subsequently.  Considering one of the main reasons, other than mixing, that I use a palette is to prevent my paints from drying in the pot, this does not make me a happy camper.  Plus, while they may not be the most expensive thing in the world, I’m not exactly in love with the idea of spending $2 every month to keep myself in new palettes.  That shit adds up and you guys know that I’m all about saving the money.  If only there were a way to clean these up rather than throw them out.

waste of paint.  at least it peeled nicely, though

How is one to clean up the old paint and wash mess to get back down to the plastic?  Well, if your paint residue is thick enough you’re not only wasting paint, but you’ve got something that’ll easily peel off.

What if you’re being efficient with your paints or are using washes (which absolutely won’t peel off)?  Don’t worry, you can simply clean them with glue.

In the effort of not wasting anything at all, I only do this when I’m already in need of a small amount of glue to work with, such as basing the lovely Flak 38’s below.

To begin, pick out a cell on your palette that’s dirty and won’t peel off.

That wash isn’t peeling up by itself

Now that you’ve got that arduous task out of the way, fill it up with some white glue.  Use enough that you’ll have a little bit left over after you’re done with whatever project you’re working on.


I like to give mine a little thinning with some plain old water.  This stretches out the amount of glue I have and makes it easier to brush on to bases and such.

watering down glue

Stir it up!

I apologize after the fact for the dred zeppelin links

Base whatever you’re working on.

hey here’s that Flak 38 I mentioned earlier

Bask in the amazingness of the job that you have just done.

Ok, so the glue is clearly not dry yet, but I still think they look pretty swell

Now just allow any remaining glue to dry in the palette cell.

dried glue- it may look silver in the photo, but it really isn’t

Once dry, carefully use a knife to get under the glue and peel it up.

be careful not to stab into your palette and break off your knife tip

Miraculously, you’ll notice that all of that dried paint or wash has come up with the glue, saving you the cost of having to replace your palette.

good as new- mostly

Unfortunately, so far I’ve just thrown out the disc of glue and paint that peels up.  I haven’t been able to find a use for this crap yet, but perhaps I need to start throwing it in my rubble box or grinder.  If anybody out there has any ideas for using this, drop a comment.

paint/glue disc or UFO sighting?

Bear in mind that this trick doesn’t just work for palettes, but for any non-porous surface.  As long as the glue won’t form a strong bond to it, you can clean it.  The sky’s the limit on this one.

That’s all for today.  If you have a similar use for glue or like what you saw here, drop a comment on us.  If you’ve got an idea for a future “Gaming on a Budget” article, hit us up at [email protected]

*consequently, if you are in the Chicago area and know of anybody looking to employ a recent MBA grad, hit me up at [email protected] or [email protected]

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