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How to Clean a Paint Brush (Quickly & Easily)

paint brush

After you’ve bought a high-quality paint brush, it is essential to clean it well after each use. Otherwise, the next time you go to use it, the bristles will be matted together, making it nearly impossible to provide a smooth coat of paint. Also, cleaning them thoroughly will make them last longer so you can get your money’s worth.

In this article, we will go over how to clean your brushes when using different types of paint, because you can’t clean a brush full of oil paint the same way you would for latex paint. Learning how to do this is easy and will save you time and money. So, don’t chuck those brushes in the garbage — clean them the correct way, and they will last for many years to come.

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Steps to Quickly Clean Your Brush

  1. Remove all excess paint from your brush. Either finish up your project or get a newspaper and paint away the excess. This will make for easier cleaning.
  2. Read your paint can, and follow the instructions for the best type of cleaner to use with the paint.
  • Water-based/latex paint: These will clean up with soap and water. Use either hand or dish soap with warm water.
  • Oil-based: These will only be removed with mineral spirits or turpentine.
  • Varnishes/shellacs: Use denatured alcohol or an ammonia-based cleaner.
  1. Fill up a small bucket or basin with the solvent, and begin by swishing the brush in the solution. Use your fingers or a brush comb to work the paint from between the bristles, taking care not to cause damage. Also, don’t bounce the brush against the bottom of the bucket since this will damage the end of the bristles.
  2. Often, the paint has dried on some of the upper bristles, so you may need to soak the brush for a while to loosen the caked-on paint.
  3. After cleaning, do a quick rinse with the fresh water/paint thinner/denatured alcohol. Then shake the brush, and blot it dry with an old towel.
  4. To retain the shape of your paintbrush, wrap it in heavy-duty paper or store it in the packaging wrap that it came in, and allow it to dry.

Tips & Considerations

  • Clean your brushes immediately after using, as this will save you tons of time.
  • You may be able to clean your brushes in the sink if you have used water-based paint. Call your local water waste treatment to make sure it is allowed.
  • When using solvents such as paint thinner, alcohol, and ammonia, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. Don’t work near anything with an open flame or the potential for an electrical spark.
  • Do not dump your solution down the drain when you are finished. Allow the solvents to sit and settle to the bottom of the bucket, then you can save them in a clean container for later use. Once the solids are dry, dispose at your local hazardous waste area.
  • Hanging your paint brushes is a great way to protect them from getting smashed and damaging the bristles.
  • Don’t forget to clean the handles: Wipe them down and dry them off when you’ve finished cleaning the bristles.
  • You may want to wear gloves when using certain solvents, as they can be drying or irritating to the skin.
  • There are other tools and accessories that can be used to clean your brushes, such as a paint brush spinner, but we found using our hands works just as well, if not better, at cleaning the brush effectively.

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Cleaning your paint brush is a quick and easy job if you do it as soon as you have finished painting. Preserving a well-made brush is well worth it to save time and money over the long term. Your brushes will continue to look like new for many uses and potentially last for many years when treated correctly.

Featured image credit: kissu, Pixabay

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