How to Clean Your Paint Brushes

So you invested a small fortune in some really great brushes. Now how do you take care of them? Let me first start off by saying Go YOU! Give yourself a pat on the back for buying the right tools. Having the right tool to do the job helps ease so much frustration. I remember the very first expensive brushes I ever bought when I started my furniture painting business. I called my husband Curtis and said I can’t believe I just spent $30 on a brush. His sweet response was you have to have the right tools for the job, it’s an investment.

This post contains affiliate links. You don’t pay any more from ordering from these links but I earn a small commission so I can continue to bring you more fun projects! They also allow me to show you exactly what I use so you know what I’m referring to!

I’ve come a long way from that first brush purchase. I’ve changed the brands and styles I’ve uses a couple times. I used to only use natural bristle brushes for blending. Now I much prefer synthetic. My favorites are the Dixie Belle Mini followed by the Oval Large brush. I have several of each and use them at least 5 days a week. They have held up really well!

So the first part of keeping your brushes clean is making sure you don’t let paint dry out on them. I have 2 methods for this. The first one is when I am saving the paint on the brush in the middle of a project. I keep the brush tip wrapped up in a sandwich bag. The second way is when I’m using brushes in my shop and don’t need to save them for future use. Then I pile them into a bucket filled with water. I only fill it up about 3 inches so the metal part doesn’t soak. I then clean them out every couple days. I use a lot of brushes!

Now its time to clean them! These are the supplies I use. A pair of rubber gloves from the Dollar Store, Scrubby Soap, and a Lice Comb…..Did I make you itch?? Yes, a Lice comb is your BFF for cleaning brushes! I buy mine at Sally’s Beauty Supply but you can find a similar one here.

I start by running hot water over my brush. I wear gloves so my hands can withstand the hot water. I rinse the brush until the water comes mostly clear.  Then I go in with Scrubby soap. I like this soap because it has a netting on it that helps remove some of the paint residue that gets stuck on the brushes. I rinse them and then hang them on my cabinet knob to dry. Usually this is all you need to do!

But what happens when that isn’t enough? Maybe you have some really stuck on paint on your bristles. I like to use a lice comb to loosen this paint. After I cleaned the brush, I pull the lice comb through. I use the scrubby soap to help it slide a little. Be carful though! This comb is no joke. It may pull some of the bristles out with it so use it with caution.

 

For the most part this is all you really need to do to care for your brushes. But lets say maybe you accidentally let paint dry out on your brush and these methods aren’t working. Your brush may look like this:

When my brushes get really caked up with paint, I know its time to pull out the nasty chemicals. Please use these at your own risk. I only use this stuff when it’s absolutely necessary. If you’re afraid of using harsh chemical you can always try soaking it in fabric softener, but I prefer just to get the job done!

I get this brush cleaner at Menards.  I pour a little bit as you can see here in a Mason Jar I mark for chemical use only. Then I push my brush in it and let it soak for a few hours. Then I rinse it and pull the lice comb through it again. I also usually clean it again with the Scrubby Soap. I only do this when I really really need to. This stuff STINKS! Please dispose of this chemical in accordance of your state laws.

 

I hope this is helpful and you are better able to care for your brush investments!