How to Clean Paint Brushes

How to Clean Paint Brushes

It doesn’t matter much whether you are an enthusiastic artist or you are a passionate wall painter, in each case you will have to deal with paints and brushes. And since for painting a house, as well as for painting a picture, we need oil-based paints mostly, cleaning our brushes after such a substance is not so easy!

Luckily, we know a few handy tricks that will help you keep your brushes always clean and ready for being used!

How to Clean Dried Paint Off Your Brushes

Basically, we clean brushes by thoroughly rinsing them. However, this approach is only applicable if you paint with water-based paints that can easily be dissolved in water and washed away. 

In most cases, however, the method of cleaning your brushes will strongly depend on what type of paint was used and thus dried on the tool’s bristles. Also, cleaning brushes with fresh paint and with the paint that has already dried and hardened will be somewhat different.

But no matter how your brushes will be cleaned, always remember to do that right after using them and never leave your painting tools soaked in water or cleansing solvent! It can seriously damage the bristles making the brush useless. And to make the cleaning procedure even safer and more effective, we consider using different sets of cleaning tools for oil paints and water-based paints.

How to Clean Water-Based Paint Off

Water-based or latex paints are the easiest ones to deal with, to be honest. To wash them off your brush, you will simply need to prepare warm soapy water and your brush. 

It is better if you use mild soap suds since the mixture will be gentler on the bristles then. 

Once the solution is ready, dip your brush into it and work through the bristles to let the soap wash the pain off. 

If you see that the paint is bleeding but it’s not all out yet, prepare a fresh soapy mixture and repeat the whole procedure from the beginning. Follow with a proper rinse. And if the paint you are dealing with appears too stubborn, feel free to make use of any mineral spirit or lacquer thinner. Only after this additional portion of cleaning, you can continue with soapy treatment and a final rinse.

Cleaning Oil-Based And Latex Paints Off

Oil-based paints, as you probably know, are more complicated to wash away. Start with choosing a proper cleaning solvent. To do that, we advise you to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Once the solvent is chosen, pour it into a clean tank and dip your brush into it. Move it up and down, and then remove the excess thinner after which the procedure can be repeated again using a new portion of thinner and a clean container.

How to Deal With Dried Paint On Your Brush  

Ok, if the paint is still fresh on the bristles of your brush, washing it off is not a big deal. But what if it has already dried?! No worries, in this case the cleaning procedure will take more time, but it is still possible to save the brush.

So if your brush is covered with dried latex paint, to make it clean again, you need to prepare hot water and some soap. Simply make a soapy solution and dip your brush into it. No need for soaking, just work the soapy water through the bristles to make the paint soften and fall off.

Once you see that the paint is loose, grab a stiff brush with nylon bristles and delicately rub that filament following the flow of the bristles. End up with a proper rinse. Of course, if the paint brush still needs washing, the procedure must be repeated again.

With oil paints, everything is a bit more complicated. This type of paint tends to dry hard on the bristles which makes the brush useless. However, there is still one trick thanks to which we can save our brushes instead of discarding them!

To revive the brushes with dried oil paint on them, keep the tools in white vinegar for a few minutes following these tips:

  • Soak the brush in vinegar for 60 minutes using a saucepan as a tank
  • Turn your stove on
  • Let the brush soak in simmering acetum for a few minutes
  • Rinse it with clear water

Dry it by laying it flat or propping it up with the bristles faced down.

Like this, your brushes will easily restore their shape and remain usable.

Author: Melinda Sherween

I have worked as an art consultant and Home Designer for eight years at all now. As an art consultant, she was first employed in a local art gallery in San Francisco, where I was responsible for picking the most suitable artwork for her clients depending on their goals and budget. Also, I love to craft and fix stuffs at home and want to share my knowledge with my audience)

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