Cleaning Paint Brushes

Category Miscellaneous
It is important to properly clean your paint brushes right away after any painting project. This is a page about cleaning paint brushes.
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January 13, 2009

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

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August 16, 2010

Hardened paint brushes can often be made as good as new by simmering them in boiling vinegar for a few minutes, then washing them in soapy water.

By Ron from Cortez, CO

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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.

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By Hope from Wilmington, NC

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Here is the absolute best paint brush cleaner recipe known to man. I take a sherbet-sized plastic container filled 2/3 with water and I add 2-3 drops dishwashing liquid.

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I did not want to throw my $1.00 brush away. I am a bit thrifty. It has many other uses to come. I soaked in vinegar water for a day and the brush cleaned up, no more dried floor patch. I will get a few more years out of my paint brush.

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December 24, 2013

Use a laundry bottle. Cut the handle at the top just before it curves to join the bottle. You should have a straight tube that connects to the bottle at the bottom of the handle.

Laundry detergent bottle with top cut off leaving most of handle

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After cleaning your paintbrush, wrap the bristles tightly in a dry paper towel folded in half. The towel will get damp so you can shape the bristles in their original shape.

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When it dries, it will hold them clean and straight and ready to use next time.

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January 29, 2010

Vegetable oil cleans paint brushes and keeps them soft and pliable.

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January 8, 2007

Don't mess around with cleaning brushes and paint tools inside your home. Take them directly outside, being careful not to drip inside the house, and clean them on your lawn with a hose.

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Questions

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July 28, 2009

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.

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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 Bonnie from Spokane, WA

Answers

July 28, 20090 found this helpful

Murphys Oil Soap will remove oil paint from your good brushes easily. Just pour a little into the palm of your hands and swipe the brush gently back and forth over it and rinse. This will keep your brushes conditioned too. I took an oil painting class and that's what was suggested to the group to use for cleaning their oil painting brushes. Happy Painting!

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July 30, 20090 found this helpful

You could use Turpentine. Believe it or not it's "natural". This is what wiki says about it "Turpentine- is a fluid obtained by the distillation of resin obtained from trees, mainly pine trees".

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August 3, 20090 found this helpful

I took oil painting in college. The professor was an artist from Paris, France.

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We did the normal rinse in turpentine, but to actually clean them we used regular soap and hot water. Never had a hard brush if I washed it thoroughly.

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January 20, 20100 found this helpful

I have been an artist for about 30 years and do mostly oil paints. The way I clean my brushes is to first clean them with Turponoid Natural which is non-toxic and then I finish cleaning them with The Master's Brush Cleaner. I don't use rags for anything anymore, I use paper towels. I let most of it settle down the bottom of a jar and pour off the top into another container and wipe out the bottom of the residue which can be disposed of in the trash. If I do have any residue of Turponoid or anything toxic, I keep under my bathroom sink in separate containers and eventually I want to take it to a toxic disposal center.

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If you need more information on disposal of toxic materials go the web page of Gamblin. They tell you just about anything you want to know.

Also, for anyone using acrylics, which I do sometimes, I filter my used water through coffee filters and then I pour it off into another container after most of it has settled down the bottom of a jar of can. Then wipe out the residue with a paper towel which you can throw in the trash.

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January 26, 20150 found this helpful

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.

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November 22, 2019

The best course of action for maintaining your paint brushes is to clean them thoroughly after every use. But there are times when this does not happen. Depending on the type of paint used there are ways to revive a stiff brush and remove the old paint. You can even temporarily slow or stop the loss of bristles. This page contains several suggestions for repairing paint brushes.

Two paint brushes soaking in water.

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