Good art brushes can be quite expensive to buy. By properly cleaning them after each use you can extend the life of your brushes. This is a guide about cleaning artist brushes.
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When you have allowed your paint brushes to harden with paint on them, you can easily soften them by placing them in hot vinegar until paint loosens and the wash them in hot soapy water.
By Sandy A. from Graettinger, IA
I use acrylic paints for my yard art projects, and cleaning my brushes is an important step. I have found that if I squirt a little hand sanitizer into the palm of my hand, and work it into the bristles, it does an excellent job of removing the paint trapped in the brush.
Use a smooth back and forth swabbing motion, gently. If you use a circular motion it may damage the bristles. Repeat this procedure until you no longer see any paint residue in your hand. Rinse and reshape the bristles and let dry.
The hand sanitizer also makes removing paint from your hands much easier. I buy cheap hand sanitizer from the $1.00 store.
Source: I experiment with different cleaners and this was my latest experiment that seems to work well.
By Harlean from Hot Springs, AR
I use Murphy Oil Soap, to clean my paint brushes. I do decoupage, and the brushes get gluey. So I will soak them overnight in the oil soap, and they are clean again.
By Hope from Wilmington, NC
As an artist I sometimes forget to rinse my brushes out well. By the time I get back to it it is completely stiff and dried with paint. The way I rescue these brushes is to fill an old plastic cup with enough Murphy's oil soap to cover the bristles and let it sit overnight. In the morning rinse well with cold water (hot water breaks down brushes faster). I do this every 6 months to all of my brushes whether they need it or not because it makes them feel like they are brand new.
Quality artists' paint brushes are an investment. It is important to wash them thoroughly at the end of every studio session or they can become permanently damaged. A proper cleaning will help maintain the shape of the tip, and extend the life of the ferrule and hairs as long as possible.
I don't use my good oil painting brushes for acrylic. I keep them just for oils, which I clean in white spirit*. The sediment settles after a few days, and the clean spirit pours off carefully into another jar.
For acrylics, I use cheaper brushes. These, of course, are cleaned in water.
*Mineral spirits or paraffin based solvent.
By auntyblod from Cwmbran, South Wales
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Here are questions related to Cleaning Artist Brushes.
How do I safely rinse brushes with oil paint. I used to love painting with oil paint, and still have my brushes, paints, palette, etc. I would like to start up again, but I am not willing to use mineral spirits (highly flammable and bad fumes) to rinse/clean my brushes. I also do not want to use bar soap on the brushes, letting oil paint go down the sink, without knowing what I am doing.
Is there a way to safely use my oil paint and brushes that will still keep the brushes in good condition? How do I rinse/dispose of oil paint rags safely if I no longer have access to a paint studio? Or is this the end of my painting days?
By davidicdancer from Spokane, WA
By Mara C T.01/26/2015
I now use mostly water-miscible oils and clean up initially with soap and water then with a squirt of "Awesome" lemon or orange cleaning liquid in the palm of my hand. (Wear gloves if doing a lot of class brushes or have sensitive skin!). I rub the bristles gently until all color is out on my paper towel wipes, then rinse thoroughly. Lastly I condition the bristles with baby oil and re-shape them between my fingers. Both cleanser and baby oil = $1.00 each for large bottle from the Dollar Tree.
I am an amateur artist. I use acrylic paint.The brushes that I use are nylon bristles. These are smaller brushes, one inch is the largest size, such as the the brushes that are sold by Donna Dewberry. I have other brushes, that cost less.
Anyway I have read suggestions people have written about brush cleaning, Murphy's Oil Soap, hot vinegar, etc. I have stronger cleaners, but would like to hear other people's ideas. Thanks.
By Kersti from Bellevue
By Maya Lee 10/06/2010
Another way to straighten crooked bristles on a brush is to stroke them on a cake of soap or add some liquid detergent. Shape them, let them dry and they will be straight again. When I am out painting, soap is always available.