How to Clean Paint Brushes

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Do you like painting? So what is stopping you from it? The bad condition of your brushes, right? We often use our brushes, sometimes even abuse them in order to get the best out of us.

Paintbrushes can always create a hole in your pocket and throwing them away is never an option. So today in this article we will talk about how to clean paint brushes which will indeed save you from draining your resources.

There are several methods you can choose from depending upon the materials that you have in stock, how much money you are ready to spend, the smell after cleaning the paintbrushes, etc. 

Method 1: Using Fabric Softener

According to my opinion, fabric softener is the best thing you can use to clean your paintbrushes. This is because of the following: it’s inexpensive, it leaves behind a really good smell and takes less time than any other methods.

But this method is only suitable for water-based paints. Now we will look at the steps which you need to follow in order to clean the brushes:

1. Remove the excess paint:

You can achieve this by rubbing the brush along a tissue or a rag cloth.

2. Creating the right mixture for the cleanup:

Take a container and mix 1/8th cup of Fabric softener and 4 cups of hot water.

3. Stir the brush properly in the mixture:

To clean the brush properly, move the brush thoroughly in the mixture and with your hands rub it and clean as much as possible. After doing this for a few minutes you will see the paint settling down at the bottom of the container. 

4. Rinse the mixture and clean the brush

Once all the paint has settled at the bottom of the mixture, rinse the mixture and then clean your brush under running water.

5. Reshape the bristles and let the brush dry

Get the excess water out of the brush by using a tissue paper. Reshape your bristles and let it dry horizontally on a flat surface and later store it.

Method 2: Cleaning Paintbrush Using Solvent 

This is the most famous, effective and fast method that most people have heard of. The only problem is that you might not have a solvent at home, so this might require a trip to a nearby store.

Solvents are a little expensive too but the results are quite impressive. Professional artists make use of a solvent in order to clean their brushes. Their brushes are quite expensive so they don’t mind spending a little more money to keep their brushes alive!  

This method works on both water and oil-based paints. The factors which are responsible for the oil to get out of the brushes is the effectiveness of the solvent or paint thinner on a particular paint. For example, solvents such as turpentine or mineral spirits are very effective in oil paints.

These are the following steps that you should follow to get the desired results.

1. Wipe the brush with a rag cloth or paper tissue

It’s easy to get the job done if you get rid of the extra paints. Just wipe the brushes gently on a rag cloth or paper tissue to achieve the desired result.

2. Selection of the right solvent

Pour the solvent into a container and gently move the brush inside the container. 

There are 3 choices for solvent depending upon the paint you are using. Mineral spirits, water, and denatured alcohol for oil-based paints, water-based paints like acrylic, watercolor, latex, and shellac respectively. 

3. Wash the brush properly with water and soap to get the solvent out

After cleaning the brush in the solvent, wash the brush in a dish wash and water mixture. Thoroughly clean the bristles and when finished wash all the soap out of the brush.

4. Rinse the brush in warm water and get the extra water out

Rinsing the bristles in warm water again. With the help of your fingers rub the bristles gently and reshape the bristles in the way you want. Let it dry in a horizontal position.

5. Let the brushes air dry completely 

Never keep the brushes in a vertical position as the water can seep into the brushes and spoil the handle. Always keep the brushes in a horizontal position on a flat surface.

Method 3: Cleaning Paintbrush Using Vinegar 

In order to clean your paintbrushes, regular white vinegar can also be used. The smell of vinegar is very strong and some people might not like it and that’s why it is not the most recommended method.

It’s inexpensive but it is very time-consuming in comparison to the fabric softener method. This method can only be used for water-based paints and generally used on paint hardened brushes. 

Following steps should be followed to get the desired results:

1. Soak the brush in vinegar for an hour

After soaking it, check whether you are able to bend the bristles back. If you can’t bend them, put them back for around 30 minutes more.

2. Place the brush in a container and boil it

Even after soaking for so long if the paint doesn’t wear off try boiling the vinegar. The heated vinegar will help the hardened paint to become soft again and it will dissolve with the vinegar. 

Tip: Completely cover the bristles of the brush with vinegar.

3. Boil the vinegar for few minutes and let the brush cool after it

Let the vinegar, with the brush, boil for a few minutes. Remove the brush after this and be careful it will be hot. Let them cool down for a while in a horizontal position.

4. Comb the brush bristles and rinse the brush thoroughly

Rub the brush with your hands or use a comb to get the small chunks of paints out. Start from the base and comb upwards.  Repeat it till all the possible chunks are out of the brush. Rinse the brush under running water and rub the bristles gently while you rinsing it.

5. Repeat if necessary and later let it dry

If you feel the paint is still there you can repeat the above steps from the boiling part till rinsing the brush. After the brush is cleaned properly let it air dry horizontally on a flat surface.

These are the 3 methods that can be adopted to clean your paintbrushes. If you are a professional painter and not satisfied with the above methods you can try this product – The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver

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This cleaner works like shampoo and conditions your paintbrushes like a conditioner. It makes the brushes softer and restores the bristles to its original shape.  

Below are the instructions on how to use this cleaner to clean brushes and restore them to their original shape. 

The instructions are actually listed on this cleaner but here is the summary below. 

  • Rinse your brush in warm water. 
  • Move the brush on the brush cleaner.
  • Clean the bristles until it forms a lather.
  • Rinse the brush in warm water. 
  • Repeat the steps if needed. 

Paintbrush Maintenance Tips

Having a deep cleaning session for your brushes, it’s absolutely necessary to maintain the health of the brush. It surely takes a lot of time but you have to do it. There are a few things you can do in between deep cleans to keep your brushes in good shape. 

1. Always rinse in luke-warm water. Avoid hot water.

2. Use a mild soap to clean the brush with your hands.

3. Prefer storing your brushes horizontally on a flat surface.

4. Keep your brushes inside a water bowl during the paint session but don’t leave them in the bowl for too long.

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