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Cleaning Up After a Big Paint Job? Here is How to Clean Your Paint Brush the Right Way!

by Guest Post on Dec 4, 2016

Have you recently moved into a new house or apartment that you want to give a fresh look? Have you picked out all your paint colors and bought new brushes? If you're equipped with the right supplies to execute your new painting project, you'll need to remember that you've only done half your homework.

That's because the investment you've made in your painting supplies is all a loss if you don't put in as much time into proper cleanup as the amount of money you've put into acquiring your supplies.

Knowing how to clean your paint brushes the right way is a critical skill that will save you from having to buy new brushes every time you need to paint a wall. Proper cleaning also helps to ensure that your brushes stay nearly perfect over their lifetime so you can maintain your investment in them. 

Are you ready to learn how to clean a paint brush the right way? Follow our quick guide for expert tips for cleaning brushes you've dipped into both latex and oil paints. Cleaning up takes patience and attention to detail -- but once you've got the hang of it, you'll get quicker at the process. Let's get started with removing that paint!

Latex Paint

Latex paint is water-based, so the only liquid you actually need to clean your paint brushes is water! (Be forewarned: You may need to do a little scraping if the paint on your bristles has dried!)

Step #1: Soak in Warm Water

One of the easiest ways to loosen latex paint from the brush is to first soak the brush in warm water. So fill up your sink with warm water and throw in the brushes. Allow them to soak for 10 minutes.

Step #2: Wash and Repeat

Once your brushes have soaked, empty the water from the sink and begin running warm water over them one at a time. Use your hands to lightly flip the brushes, making sure not to bend them too far or crinkle them, so that the paint can easily flow from the brush. While the water still is flowing, press the brush back and forth against the bottom of the sink to continue freeing paint that is trapped inside the brush. Continue doing this with each brush until the water is flowing clearly.

Step #3: Scrape Your Brushes

There are lots of different tools you can buy to scrape dried paint off your brushes, but one of the most effective tools you have is your fingers. Gently scrape any dried flakes from the bristles by placing the brush flat against your sink and pressing your fingers down the length of the brush. Scrape in the direction of the bristles to help ensure the bristles remain straight and in their proper place.

Step #5: Whip It!

Next, go outside and forcefully shake each brush by whipping it up and down. This releases all the water from the brush so that it can dry properly. 

Step #6: Store Your Brushes Properly

Place your brush flat against a dry paper towel. Cover and allow to dry. When the brush if completely dry shake out again and then put back in its protective cover. Store your paint brushes by hanging them up to avoid the tips' curling.

Oil-Based Paint

If you are using oil-based paint which is often used to paint wooden furniture, you will not be able to use water to clean your brushes. If you try this, your brushes will turn into a sticky mess. You'll need to use a solvent like mineral spirits to clean up.

Step #1: Make a Mineral Spirits Soak

Fill a solvent-safe bucket with mineral spirits according to the packaging instructions. Usually this means filling the bucket with enough solvent to get brush head where paint has dried immersed in the solvent. Allow the brushes to soak for 10-15 minutes, depending how much paint has dried.

Step #2: Comb It Out

Oil-based paints are when you can really use a brush comb. Use it to gently move through the bristles in a downward motion to release the paint. Continue dipping the brush head in the solvent as you go to further wash out the paint. 

Step #3: Dump and Repeat

Dump your dirty solvent into a dedicated waste area or bucket and fill it back with new, clean solvent. Dip your brushes back into the solvent to further release trapped paint. Repeat the process of combing and dipping your brush head until it is completely clean.

Step #4: Dry and Store

After your brush head is completely clean, shake out the solvent (make sure you are wearing goggles so you don't get any in your eye or mouth), and lay flat on a clean cloth or paper towel. Store the same way you would latex-paint brushes once they are dry.

In conclusion, if you don't take care of your paint brushes by cleaning them properly after you have used them -- you not only are going to cause the deterioration of your paint brushes over time but you literally are going to waste your money because you're going to have to buy brand new paint brushes the next time you have a paint job at your house or apartment. 

Now, if you follow our quick and easy guide for properly cleaning your paint brushes, then you'll actually be able to maintain your paint brushes and keep your collection over their lifetime. Keeping them in great condition is all about after-care, so make sure you're not letting your paint brushes dry out or letting paint get too far up the length of the bristles. 

Keep these pro tips in mind as you take on your next big paint job -- and enjoy the process as you makeover over new home!

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