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How to Make Your Paintbrushes Last Longer

Malvika Kulur
Many a time, we have to throw out our paintbrushes because they have gotten too stiff, or their bristles have fallen off. Those who paint, know that good quality brushes don't come cheap. Given here, are tips on how to make your paintbrushes last longer.
"Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures."
- Henry Ward Beecher
Paintbrushes are very important to a professional painter. The brushes are their most cherished tools and source of income. No painter likes to use brushes that are worn out or stiff. Their best work comes out when they use brushes that are in top-notch condition.
So, how do you maintain paintbrushes and make sure they last you for a long time? It's easy. All you have to do is treat your brushes right, and they will serve you for long. Many people have different methods in preserving their brushes, but the basics remain the same.
You start with using them in the right way, and then when you are done, you clean them well, and later, store them appropriately. Here are some useful tips on preserving your paintbrushes to make them last longer.

When You Paint

► Use a good-quality plastic pail that ensures that your brush is standing upright (when it has been placed in the pail), if you decide to take a short breather while painting.
► Fill the pail with just a couple of inches of paint, so that your paintbrush is not dipped till the ferrule (the metal part of the brush between the bristles and handle).

► Ensure that only a couple of inches of the bristles are submerged in paint, and not the entire bristle patch.
► Always tap off the excess paint that gets loaded onto the bristles, every time you dip the brush in the paint.

► Keep the bristles of your brush moist, at least till you are done with your paint job, because they are easier to clean if they are moist.

Cleaning the Brushes

► Once you are done painting, wash out the pail, and pour some water in it.
► Take a wire brush, and scrub out the excess paint, but please do this with a gentle hand, 'cause if you scrub too hard, the bristles may fall out.

► Once you are done with the scrubbing, dip your brush in it, and swirl it around in the water, till the remaining paint comes out of the bristles.
► You may have to redo this a few times (with clean water every time), till there are no traces of paint on the bristles (you can stop when the water remains colorless even after you swirl the brush in the pail).

► Squeeze out all the excess water from the brush, using your hands.
► If you are using smaller and fine brushes, you could use blotting paper to absorb all the excess water.
► If your brush is a broad, flat one, you will need to tap the ferrule of your brush on the brim of your shoes (please do not try this if you are wearing open shoes, as you might hurt your toe).

► If you are wearing flip-flops, then you could tap your brush very gently against the edge of a stair or table.
► If you are using acrylic or oil paint, please use the thinner to first clean off all the paint, and then dry your brush well.

Storing the Brushes

► Ideally, brushes should be stored in the cases that they come in.

► But if you have disposed off the cases, don't worry, because you can always make do with some other boxes.
► Wrap your brushes in newspaper, and place them in shoe boxes, or any box. The main idea is to keep them covered.

► Drill a hole in the handle, and hang the bristles down―that's if the handles of your brushes are wide enough.

Some Do-not-dos

► Do not keep your brushes immersed in water (after you are done painting) for a long time, as the adhesive holding the bristles may get disintegrated, causing the bristles to fall out.
► Do not keep dry brushes in a pail or pot with their bristles resting at the bottom, because the bristles may bend and stay in that shape, thus ruining your brush. If you are keeping them in a pot, place them with the bristles up and handle down.
► Never use warm or hot water to clean your brushes.
► Do not be in a hurry to put away your brushes after cleaning them. Make sure that they are completely dry before you cover and keep them in storage.
► If you are using your brushes with oil paint, do not use the same ones with water colors. Oil and water do not mix well and can end up harming your brush.

► Never let acrylic or oil paint dry up on the bristles; doing so, is like killing your brush.
Many painters have different brush-cleaning regimes, like soaking their brushes for a brief period before cleaning. This is also effective, provided the brushes are not soaked for a long time. Using and maintaining brushes well are the best possible ways of making them last longer.