Best ways to clean paint brushes

While home improvement gurus claim that painting is an “inexpensive” way to make a change or jazz up a dull room, it is by no means cheap. Depending on the size of the room, you may need quite a bit of paint and that can be costly. While you have to spend the money on paint for each new project, you don’t have to buy new paint brushes. If you care for your brushes properly, you can re-use them for subsequent jobs, saving yourself some cash.

Painting expert Brian Santos recommends cleaning your brushes every two hours while painting before the paint has time to dry on the brush. I thought this deserved a mention, although no other information I found suggested the frequent cleaning. Once you have finished painting, remove excess paint from the brush by dragging it across the opening of the paint can or wiping it across newspaper.

Stick the brush into a bucket of warm water and move it briskly back and forth without touching the bottom of the bucket to remove as much paint as possible.

Continue by holding the brush under warm running water and letting it flow over the outside of the bristles towards the bristle ends. Try to avoid pushing the bristles down so they bend at an angle. It is unnecessary and will damage the bristles, defeating the purpose of cleaning the brush in the first place. While you are rinsing, use a wire comb, wire brush or even a kitchen fork to remove any stubborn, dried paint. Continue rinsing it until the water runs clear.

If you prefer to use a citrus solvent cleaner, Orange Solv is a safe, natural product  that does an excellent job of cleaning paintbrushes.

Double Check
If you want to be absolutely certain all residual paint has been removed, use string or thin wire to suspend just the bristles in a clear container filled with clean water. Leave it there for a few hours and if there is any paint left in the brush, the water will turn cloudy, indicating a more thorough cleaning is necessary.


Once the brush is clean, you can use the same string or wire to hang it for air drying.

Now that you have a clean, dry paintbrush, place it back into its protective cover. If you no longer have the cover, you can wrap it in heavy paper like that from a grocery bag. Preventing bristles from bending will ensure that your paintbrushes are like new for a good long time. Hang them from a nail or hook, or store them flat to keep the bristles straight and you won’t be wasting money year after year on new paintbrushes. Happy painting!

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