How to Clean Paint Brushes


Any brush, regardless of what it costs, will last longer if you look after it.

To clean most of the paint out of a freshly used brush, lay it on at least three thicknesses of newspaper and gently run the back of an old kitchen knife, or smooth scraper, from the, heel of the bristles to their tips, squeezing out the paint.

Repeat this on the other side, and on the edges of narrow brushes.

Remove any paint from the metal binding and handle with solvent, and continue to clean thoroughly.

To clean out emulsion paint, simply use cold water and a little detergent.

For cleaning out oil-based paints, wash the brush in white spirit, and follow this by washing it in warm water, with soap or detergent. Finally, rinse away the soap.


Pay special attention to the heel — the area at the base of the bristles — as the paint tends to clog up there.

Do not force the brush out of shape by being too rough with the cleaning action.

Store white spirit used for cleaning brushes in a screw-top jar. The paint will settle at the bottom and the spirit can be used time and time again

Finding a brush coated with dried paint is a situation that faces most handymen from time to time. The only way of cleaning a hard brush is to soak it in a proprietary brush cleaner or in paint stripper. Take care not to get any of the stripper on the handle or it will strip off the varnish. After soaking, remove the loosened paint with an old putty knife and re-immerse in the stripper or white spirit if more paint has to be removed. Finally, wash the brush in warm water.

Brushes which have hardened completely seldom come really clean at the base of the bristles.

A new type of oil-based paint contains a special additive that enables brushes to be cleaned out with water and detergent, but the surplus paint must first be scraped out as described above.

Storing Paint Brushes After Use

Proper storing is as important as thorough cleaning if your brushes are to last.

When, after using a brush, you have cleaned it thoroughly and allowed it to dry, the best method of storing is to wrap it in newspaper. This helps to retain the shape of the bristles.

Unless the bristles are of nylon, keep a couple of mothballs in the drawer or cupboard where you store your brushes, to protect them from moths.

If you have finished painting for the day, but intend to carry on the following day, you can leave an oil paint brush in water overnight without going through the process of cleaning it.

Drill a hole in the handle, if one is not already there, and suspend the brush in the water — do not allow the bristles to touch the bottom of the container. The water level should just cover the heel of the bristles. Before you continue painting. Shake the water out of the brush and wipe it dry on a rag or paper.

If you are using emulsion paint, it is a simple matter to run the brush under a cold tap. This must be done quickly — the brush will harden if you leave it.

21. June 2011 by admin
Categories: Tools | Tags: , , | Comments Off on How to Clean Paint Brushes


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