How to Clean a Paint Brush

I know people who absolutely love to paint. They’re the friends I call when I decide I can’t avoid it any longer and I’m ready for a room refresh. But whether you’re a big fan of painting or can’t stand the process, it’s important to know how to clean a paint brush.

Tips While Painting

While you paint there are things that you can do to help make the brush cleaning process easier. First, you don’t need to dip your entire brush into the paint. This will help make the cleaning process easier for you, as well as make the overall painting process a lot less messy!

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It’s also important to use a high quality brush that fits the type of paint you’re using. Natural bristle brushes are best suited for oil paint jobs, while nylon brushes are for latex paint. Using the right brush for the job will definitely have an impact on how well the paint comes out of the brush post-project.

Right After Painting

The job is done and you’re ready to get cleaned up. Prior to cleaning your brush, be sure to remove as much paint from it as possible. You can do this by giving an additional brush against the surface you are painting, or by gently sliding the brush along the mouth of the paint can, pushing the paint out and back into the can.

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You can also gently brush the excess paint off into a paper towel, piece of newspaper, or a paint rag of some sort. My family keeps old washrags and bed sheets handy for paint rags, which do the trick nicely.

How To Clean A Paint Brush With Solvent (Oil-Based Paint)

The type of paint you are working with will determine the type of solvent you’ll use to clean it. Mineral spirits and turpentine are used for oil-based paints. If you’re using shellac then you use should use denatured alcohol for your clean up process. We’ll cover water-based paints later on.

No matter what type you’re using, the process is the same. Put just enough solvent to cover the bristles of your paint brush in a plastic bowl. Stir your brush around in the solvent for about 30 seconds. Then pull out the brush and gently wipe it against the side of the bowl to remove excess solvent.

Repeat this process until the brush is wiped clean of paint. I also like to test this by wiping my brush against a paint rag, just to be sure that all the paint has been removed.

How To Clean A Paint Brush (Water-Based Paint)

If you are working with a water-based paint, there’s no need for any solvents. Acrylic or latex paints can be easily removed from brushes by rinsing them out with warm water and a drop of dish soap (mild, please!). Rinse the brushes until the water runs clear.

Again, I recommend using a paint rag or paper towel to test if there is any paint left in the brush. Sometimes it may appear as though I’ve gotten it all, but a quick swipe on the paint rag proves otherwise.