View Full Version : Sta-Wet Palette smells like socks

08-26-2011, 01:42 PM
Imagine you have been working outside all say, and perhaps it's been a bit damp out, and you stepped in a puddle, and now it's hot, and your feet are soggy by the end of it all. You come home, pop of your shoes and BAM! the whole room smells like socks.

Now the Sta-Wet Palette is a dream come true. Ahh, the way the paint just stays wet all day - much longer than my oils, but you just take the color and put it on the canvas and ahh - dry in seconds. It's the best of both worlds.

And then a few days pass and you have this amazing little thing. . . that wreaks like wet socks. What's up wit dat?

You clean it, and the socks are back the next day. Is this just the nature of the beast? Is there a miracle fix for this? Something to mix in the water? Or do people like the familiar smell :lol:

08-26-2011, 01:58 PM
You clean it, and the socks are back the next day.
Assuming you changed the reservoir and membrane paper: clean it better.

I presume you're using one of the commercial stay-wet palettes, these have an anti-microbial additive in the reservoir sponge to help minimise this problem but you really can't prevent it entirely. Tricks like putting a copper coin under the membrane paper don't do squat for some people, although others report that it does help hugely.

Since you can get decent results with self-built palettes without any tricks my thinking is it's more to do with local conditions than anything - how much mould there is in your local environment but maybe most how sterile your tapwater is. I'm certain palette location makes a difference too, the more you're breathing directly on top of it as you paint the faster you'll have problems.

Using distilled water will greatly extend the time between cleans, but the box itself must be very clean for this to be worth it - so sterilise it with bleach if necessary.

I think the main thing is to clean thoroughly, as often as necessary.


08-26-2011, 03:01 PM
I'll chalk it up to the conditions: an old musty house with bad water and smelly people :wave:

Thanks for the feedback. I'd say I clean it pretty thoroughly, but I guess I'll just have to clean daily instead of letting it sit for a few days... (Mildew and mold growth is a big problem in my house, so I guess it all makes sense)

I'll try the pennies, too. Thanks for the tip!

08-27-2011, 01:09 AM
Try a little anti-bacterial soap on the sponge like for washing dishes. It helps keep the sponge in the kitchen from molding and smelling bad.

08-27-2011, 06:54 AM
I don't have any problem re smell with my home made palette!

Charlie's Mum
08-27-2011, 09:02 AM
I get this too sometimes!
The palette can stay sweet for a week or more but other times it goes off quite quickly.
Sometimes the black mold can be seen on paint and membrane - then I just clear it all and wash thoroughly with household bleach.
It's something I've just learned to live with!:lol:

Some say to put the palette in the fridge to maintain freshness for longer :D

08-27-2011, 02:54 PM
I always used Lysol liquid cleaner to wash out the Sta-Wet palette keeper and I rinsed out the sponge liner in it, as well. Rinse thoroughly, of course. I also use only distilled water to mix or spritz my paints and the sponge liner. I can always smell a bit of the Lysol when I opened the palette keeper. I never let it go more than a week without another thorough cleaning with the Lysol.

In more recent years, I stopped using the entire Sta-Wet system with the palette liner papers on top of the damp sponge sheet, etc. My paints would absorb too much moisture through the paper when stored overnight. I would find big, thin puddles of paint the next day when I opened the box. Instead I have switched to using the small, white porcelain paint dishes (some shaped like a flower) to squeeze my paints into. No problems with the paint getting too wet. I mist them lightly from time to time during a painting session. I mix the colors on a stack of wet paper plates with a layer of wet paper towels in between. When I need more room to mix colors, I just peel away the top layer of paper plate and towel to get a new, clean mixing surface. At the end of a painting session, I peel off the used paper plates and throw them away. No need to store those in a sealed box. But I do still use the keeper box and sponge liner to store my porcelain dishes to keep my paints moist. I spritz the paints lightly with distilled water just before packing up for the day. The dishes go on top of the moist sponge liner, then place a sheet of plastic food wrap over the entire set of dishes to seal in the moisture. Then clamp the lid on the Sta-Wet box. The damp sponge liner inside keeps the interior of the sealed box just slightly moist. The paints don't absorb any additional water from the sponge below. They are the perfect consistency the next day. I can keep this rig going for several weeks, if necessary. I just make sure I do my weekly cleaning on the Sta-Wet box and sponge, then it's ready to go again.

I don't know if this is a workable solution for outdoor painting, but it works great indoors.


08-27-2011, 06:50 PM
I don't have an answer for you - I just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your description!

08-27-2011, 08:13 PM
Chia, I appreciate that :lol: and Charlie's Mum, I'm glad I'm not the only one! Beverly, your suggestions are also great. I'm still pretty new to acrylic painting, so I've a bit to try out and learn, so thank you!

Just yesterday I put in a brand new sponge and acrylic sheet, and already if I put my nose to it I can smell it.. There are probably a few more days before it becomes strong enough to smell while painting :crossfingers:

Now with the suggestions for anti-bacterial soap, bleach, etc; if there is still a bit of that left in the sponge, is that going to compromise the paint film in any way? Or perhaps it's not as bad for the paint as the smelly mold smell?

08-29-2011, 03:43 PM
Now with the suggestions for anti-bacterial soap, bleach, etc; if there is still a bit of that left in the sponge, is that going to compromise the paint film in any way? Or perhaps it's not as bad for the paint as the smelly mold smell?
Theoretically it could (which is why when I was still using a squirt of anti-bacterial surface cleaner in my wet palettes I tried not to let any of the water mix with the paint at the edges) but if there were a major problem I think you'd notice nearly immediately.

Acrylics are pH sensitive for example, so if the bleach caused the pH to go too low there would be a noticeable change in consistency - it might 'seize' and go a little like cottage cheese.

In case you didn't know, one of the many unlisted ingredients in acrylic paints is an anti-microbial agent so it's not automatically a bad thing that that there would be some in your paint.