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Ways to Clean Paintbrushes

Niharika Arya
You must have invested a lot in buying expensive and high quality brushes in order to make flawless paintings. But, if these brushes are not cleaned properly, your investment will go in vain. Find out some simple methods which will help you keep your brushes clean and in good shape.

Quick Tip

To remove hard paint from a brush, soak the bristles in white vinegar for an hour. Fill another saucepan with white vinegar. Soak the brush and cover the saucepan. Bring the vinegar to boil. Remove it from the heat, and let it cool for a minute. Remove the brush, and gently comb the bristles to remove the paint.
Painting may be your hobby, your passion, an assignment given to you in school, or a way to earn your living. Whatever be the reason, a painter knows the importance of well-maintained brushes, and he always makes it a point to clean and dry them. Here, we will look into some of the easy and effective ways of cleaning paintbrushes.

How to Clean Paintbrushes

Each brush has to be dealt with differently, as it entirely depends on the paint for which it has been used. Latex water-based paints can be removed easily, however, when it comes to oil-based paints, you need to work harder to get rid of the paint. Let us find out how to deal with this problem, in the following sections.

Steps to Clean Paintbrushes When Using Latex Paint

Latex paint is easier to clean as it is water-based. The paint easily dissolves in water, therefore, less effort is required to clean the brush. Here is one simple way to clean latex paint from a paintbrush.
Things Required
  • Water
  • Rag or paper towel
  • Wire brush
  • Liquid fabric softener
  • Soap bar
  • Rubber band

Step #1

Remove excess paint from the brush by pressing its bristles against the inside edge of the can. This will squeeze out the extra paint. You can also remove the excess paint with the help of a wire brush, or just gently wipe the brush on a rag or paper towel.

Step #2

Take ½ liter of warm water and mix 2 tbsp. of liquid fabric softener. Dip your brush into the solution, and keep it in that position for sometime. This will dissolve the paint in the solution. Repeat the process till the bristles are completely free of paint.

Step #3

Take the brush and slowly move it over a soap bar, just as you would do if you had to paint the soap bar. Rinse the brush under tap water. Repeat the process until there are no traces of paint on the brush. Gently comb it with the help of a metal brush, and keep rinsing it under the tap water till it is completely clean.

Step #4

This step includes drying of the bristles. Shake the brush so that the water comes out of the brush completely. Ring out the brush with your hands softly, to remove excess water. Dab it with a towel or with a rag.

Step #5

Hang the brush from a string with the help of clip or hang it on a nail. You can also place it flat on the surface to dry. Now, put a rubber band around the bristles so that they do not scatter after drying. This will keep the brush in shape, and it will remain smooth for the next use.

Steps to Clean Paintbrushes When Using Oil Paint

Oil paint is very difficult to remove from the brushes. It is time-consuming, and the end result may not be satisfactory. Solvent plays a major role in cleaning brushes dipped in oil paint. Here are the steps you need to follow.
Things Required
  • Water
  • Wire brush
  • Mineral spirits
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Fabric softener
  • 4 large bowls

Step #1

Remove the excess paint with the help of a wire brush or with a brush-cleaning tool. Gently scrap the brush or just wipe it off with the help of a rag or paper towel.

Step #2

Take all the four bowls, and fill each with a different solution:
  1. Mineral spirit
  2. Mixture of 50% mineral spirits and 50% denatured alcohol
  3. Denatured alcohol and
  4. Mixture of fabric softener and water
Label all the four bowls according to their respective content.

Step #3

Dip the brush into the mineral spirit 3-4 times, to loosen the paint. Shake it well, to remove the excess of it on the bristles. Dip it into the solution of mineral spirit and denatured alcohol. Repeat the process. Next, dip it in the bowl containing denatured alcohol and repeat the process. Finally, dunk it in the fabric softener solution several times.

Step #4

Shake the brush vigorously to remove the excess liquid. Then dab it on a dry towel or rag. Hang it on a nail or place it flat on the table to dry. You can put a rubber band around the bristles which will save the bristles from getting scattered.
If you need to use the brush the next day, then it is better to avoid washing the brush. This will save you time and material. Just cover the paint with a plastic cover, and wrap the brush properly with a thin plastic. This will prevent the paint from drying, and you can use it again the next day.