You have completed your masterpiece and now you have a bunch of paintbrushes full of paint. Or maybe you just finished painting your stairs, your ceiling, or even your kitchen cabinets! So what to do next? Should you simply toss them away in the rubbish bin? If they were under a few quids, then yes, but most DIYers realise that investing in good, more costly brushes will result in a smoother finish and more attractive work than inexpensive ones.
As such, don’t toss out your paintbrushes. They can be saved with the right method! So, invest the three minutes it takes to do it well and follow our guide on how to clean right. Plus, we have added some tips at the end on how to store your paintbrushes as well.
Table of Contents
Cleaning your paintbrushes with fabric softener
Before we dive in, it is worth noting that cleaning the brush every two hours while working is certainly a good idea to avoid letting the paint dry so that you can give it that ultimate finish at the end of your painting project. This DIY method will save you money and time by eliminating the need to get new ones. Here’s what you have to do:
1. Remove any leftover paint
Scrape any extra paint from your brush or pad with the edge of a 5-in-1 tool or the teeth of a brush-cleaning tool. You can also use a fine-tooth hair comb for exceptionally small brushes. Then, scrape the tool’s side against the bucket or paint tray to remove the accumulated paint.
2. Make solution
Making your own paint removal solution isn’t difficult. In a 5 litre bucket, fill it with warm clean water (not hot water) and add 1/2 cup of fabric softener. The fabric softener is a surfactant, which means that the paint dissolves more easily. That is why the more you clean it with the fabric softener, the better it becomes. Cleaning the brush with soap, contrary to popular belief, will clog the ferrule and natural bristles.
When the fabric softener is applied to the brush, it allows the paint to run easily off of it. With this method, you’ll notice a significant increase in the life of your paintbrushes.
3. Clean the brush
Dip your brush into the solution, swish it around quickly in the water, and count to ten. The paint will come loose from the bristle brushes and fall to the bucket’s bottom. If your solution reaches the top of your bucket, don’t mix too vigorously or you’ll end up with spillage. Big brushes take a little longer to get cleaned (about 30 seconds) and may need to be dipped several times.
4. Dry the brush
Use a paintbrush spinner to swiftly dry your paintbrush. This is best done in a spare bucket that you don’t mind getting dirty. In a wet waste bucket, you can also spin the brush for a couple of seconds. Then, let your tools air dry in an open area for a couple of hours.
Cleaning your paintbrushes with vinegar
Vinegar is a versatile cleaning agent that can be utilised in a variety of situations, from cleaning your washing machine to cleaning mould off walls. But it can also be useful in this case! Here is how to do it:
1. Use a saucepan
Make sure you use an old one for this DIY project. Keep in mind that you won’t want to use the saucepan for anything else after this, so store it in the garage or outside afterwards.
2. Add vinegar
There isn’t a certain amount of vinegar to use, but it should be enough to cover your paintbrush. As a result, you’ll need a saucepan with enough depth to accommodate this. Pour in a generous amount of vinegar and place the saucepan on the stovetop over high heat. Turn on the extractor fan and open the window. This should be done in a well-ventilated kitchen because the fumes will be intense.
3. Start cleaning
Once the vinegar is boiling, dip the brush in while holding the handle with your hand. Imitate brush strokes by rubbing them back and forth on the bottom of the saucepan. Remove the brush from the vinegar every 15 to 20 seconds to check on how it’s cleaning up. It might take some time to clean the brush, especially if there’s a lot of caked paint on it.
Keep moving it back and forth on the bottom of the pan whenever you put the brush back in. You can press harder to loosen the paint. The bristles will be hot from the boiling vinegar so be careful not to touch them.
4. Add more brushes
If you have one paintbrush that needs to be cleaned, you’re likely to have more. Carry on in the same manner with each of them, ensuring that the vinegar remains at a boil and that there is enough vinegar in the pan.
5. Finish it off
Turn off the heat and remove the pan once you’ve cleaned all of the brushes. Wait until the vinegar has cooled before pouring it down the sink via a strainer to capture the paint. The drain will also be cleaned as a result of this.
To get rid of all the vinegar, wash each brush under cold running water. Brush the bristles with your hands. When you’re done, rinse the paintbrush in the sink to remove any extra water, then squeeze firmly and hang it to dry.
Cleaning your paintbrushes with rubbing alcohol
Rubbing alcohol can be a wonderful remedy if you have left paint on your brushes for too long and need a harsher solution to remove it:
1. Dip the brush into alcohol
Pour a tiny amount of alcohol into a shallow dish and set it aside. Make sure the dish is not too deep as you don’t want to dip the entire brush into the alcohol.
2. Swish it around
Dip the bristles of the brush into it, making sure the brush’s barrel does not get wet. The paint will come off the brush, and the alcohol will most likely change colour. Continue circling the brush for another 10 to 20 seconds. While you don’t want to soak the entire brush in alcohol, swabbing the base of the brush in order to clean oil accumulation and debris is a good idea.
3. Wipe the bristles on a clean dry towel
Wipe them clean after removing them from the alcohol. If you use a new towel, the paint will most likely leave a mark on it as it is removed from the brush. Therefore, consider keeping an old towel around to wipe your brushes with.
4. Repeat until the alcohol is clear
Fill the dish with new alcohol after dumping the used one down the drain. Repeat! Continue this process until the alcohol solution has removed all of the paint from the brush.
5. Squeeze the brushes and reshape them
You should squeeze away any excess alcohol from your brushes once they are clean. This will make the drying process faster. After cleaning, it is also crucial to re-shape it. This will assist in keeping your brushes in good shape. Comb the bristles into position with a comb or your fingertips.
Lay the brush flat to dry after wiping it off on the towel. Small brushes dry quickly, while larger brushes may take an hour or more to dry completely.
Cleaning paintbrushes with solvents
Follow the tips below to help you get started:
1. Wipe the brush clean using a paper towel
First, you need to get rid of as much paint as you can. Getting rid of the surplus paint makes it a lot easier to clean your brush. You can do this by rubbing your brush on the edge of the paint can as you finish up and then you can just wipe the brush on a rag or paper towel to remove any excess paint.
2. Rinse the brush using the suitable solvent
It is fine to utilise the dirty paint solvent from your last painting session. Pour it into a bucket or a bowl and slowly run your brush through it and wipe it along all the container’s sides. You can also use a paint comb while the brush is in there if you have one.
Here are your options:
- Mineral spirits for oil brushes.
- Denatured alcohol for shellac.
- Water for all water-based paints, such as acrylic brushes and latex paint.
3. Use several cans of solvent to remove stubborn paints
To begin, dip the brush into a can of paint thinner or another solvent. Swirl the brush around as much as possible to remove as much paint as you can. Repeat with the second can, and then a third. Most of the paint should be gone by the time you finish spinning the brush in the third can.
4. Wash the bristle of the brush in dish soap and water to remove the solvent
Remove the brush after it has been cleaned, rinse it under running water, and then add some dish soap. Work the soap into the bristles, then rinse the brush until all of the soap is gone. Wipe the brush clean with a clean cloth or paper towel after you have finished.
5. Rinse the brush under lukewarm water
Repeat the rinsing process. While rinsing, you may want to massage the bristles of the brush between your fingers, but sable brushes should be handled with care. You can accomplish this with a brush comb.
6. Remove any excess water by shaking or blotting it
Get rid of excess water from the brush once it’s clean. Reshape to its proper form, then store the brush upright in a container to prevent deformation while it dries.
7. Store your brush in the original container
Place the brush back in its case once you’ve taken as much water out of it as possible. The bristles will be neat and enclosed, which will assist retain the original shape of your brush.
How to store brushes properly
Once your brushes are clean, make sure to store them properly so that they are ready to use for the next project:
- Wrapping the entire head of the brush in plastic wrap or a plastic bag is the ideal way to store brushes for several hours or more.
- Use masking tape to create a tight seal over the brush’s neck.
Cleaning new or dried paints is not necessarily the most enjoyable thing to do. We get it! But, with the above step-by-step guide, the results are indeed worth it. You will undoubtedly save some cash too now that you know how to clean paintbrushes to extend their life span and avoid spreading paint all over the place! Time for a new DIY project, don’t you think?