How to Clean Paint Brushes

A job that we never like doing at the end of a day of painting but one that can save money is cleaning our paintbrushes. Leaving the paint to cure can make this job ten times tougher so we run through the best way to clean paint brushes to save you time and money.

Hopefully, you spent a little bit more money at the initial stage when purchasing the paintbrush, we look at this in greater detail in paint application. The reason is that not all paintbrushes are created equally. The guy who trained me up always used to say “buy cheap, buy twice” and this can certainly be the case with paintbrushes. We advise good quality nylon or polyester brush for working with latex (waterbased) paints and a good quality natural brush for working with oil-based paints.

dirty paint brush

Paint Brush- Cleaning Latex Paint

These steps outline the best way to remove latex and water-based paints from your paintbrush.

  1. Begin by removing any excess paint that the brush is holding by scraping on the top rim of the paint can. Brush as much out of the brush as possible on a surface or piece of newspaper. After this clean in hot soapy water
  2. Using your hands to feel the bristles, remove any paint. A brush comb can make this job easier again.
  3. Swirl the brush in the bucket of water. Remove and ensure that there is no paint and that any excess water is shaken off.
  4. Rinse the brush under a tap and swirl the brush in the clean water.
  5. To dry correctly, grab some heavy-duty paper and wrap around the brush fairly tight in a parcel and tie off with some rope or ribbon to ensure that the brush remains in shape. Store in a dry place, not too warm though.

Clean Oil Based Paints from Paint Brush

Cleaning oil-based paints will require paint thinner (spirits). The process is pretty similar to cleaning latex paints but we change the soapy water to cleaning or thinning spirits.

  1. Remove any excess paint from the brush using the rim of the paint can.
  2. Dip the paintbrush in paint thinner. Put on special chemical resistance gloves, use your hands to rub the bristles free of any paint.
  3. You can be more effective at cleaning oil-based paints by using a brush and roller spinner.
  4. Dip the brush into a container of clean spirits (paint thinner) continue to work the paint head bristles for a few minutes. Ensure you still have the gloves on.
  5. If you have a brush spinner, use this again.
  6. Make sure to shake the brush for a minute or two, outside.
  7. Using a thinner again stir the brush briskly to remove any remaining paint. Remove the brush from the thinners and remove any excess thinner into the container. Place brush onto some old newspaper. Do this outside, taking note of the advice below.
  8. Clean paintbrushes in a bucket of soapy water and rinse off with clean water.
  9. Then to dry correctly, grab some heavy-duty paper and wrap around the brush fairly tight in a parcel and tie off with some rope or ribbon to ensure that the brush remains in shape. Store in a dry place, not too warm though.

Advice: Thinners contain solvents. Always use these in well-ventilated areas with good means of natural ventilation. Ideally outside of in garages or workshops. These solvents are also flammable so keep away from naked flames or other forms of ignition. As with all chemicals please store in a suitable location well out of reach of kids and pets.

Items used to Clean Paint Brushes

  • Containers or old jam jars will suffice to hold small amounts of thinner.
  • Buckets or paint pale for soapy water and cleaning brushes.
  • A brush comb to get rid of paint clumps. A wire brush can be used also.
  • A brush and roller spinner to clean brushes faster.
  • Rags for cleaning any mess
  • Old Newspapers.
  • Paint thinners.