How to Professionally Clean Your Paint Brushes

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A paint brush is an expensive precision tool and it can last for many years if properly taken care of. If a paintbrush is not properly cleaned and stored after use then there is no point of buying an expensive high-quality paintbrush. After the paint job, there will be flecks of paint in your brushes and it will definitely misshapen bristles and you can’t use these brushes in your next project as using them will lead to an imperfect finish. So, cleaning them thoroughly and properly at the end of a painting session will work better and last longer. It is well worth spending a little bit of time to take good care of paint brushes. Here’s how the professionals clean up their expensive paint brushes.

How to Clean Your Paint Brushes – The Professional Way

There are a lot of ways to clean a paintbrush. Different paint will need different approaches than others. But the intent is same; clean your brushes properly after each painting session to increase their life span. In this article, we’ll show you different methods and proper way to clean a brush and how you can keep the shape of a brush after cleaning it.

How to Clean Water-Based Finishes and Latex Paint from Brushes

Follow these steps to get your brush totally free of paint and properly shaped for the next job. Step five is very important as you’ll need it no matter what kind of paint you are cleaning out of your brush.

  • First, scrape off excess paint. It is very important to make sure you free up as much as possible paint from the brush. The best practice is to work some of the paint onto newspaper before cleaning the brush in soapy water.
  • Wash the brush in a bucket of soapy water. Use your hands and a brush comb to remove the paint from the bristles.
  • Spin the brush in the bucket. Remove any remaining paint and water.
  • Now wash the bristles in clean water. Work the bristles with your hand. After a few minutes, spin the brush again and then wash it in another bucket of clean water.
  • Wrap the brush with heavy paper. Make sure you wrap it around the brush and tie it loosely with string. This step is very important as it helps to retain the shape of the brush.

How to Clean Oil-Based Varnishes and Paint from Brushes

Cleaning oil paint brushes is very similar to cleaning off latex paint. The difference is you’ll need paint thinner mineral spirits instead of soapy water to wash the brush. Make sure you free up as much paint from the brush. This is especially important with oil-based paints and varnishes so you can use less thin and have fewer mess and disposal difficulties.

  • Wash the brush thoroughly in paint thinner. Use your hands and a brush comb to remove the paint from the bristles. Make sure you wear chemical-resistant gloves while using paint thinner.
  • Spin the brush for 10 seconds. Then use a brush-and-roller spinner to remove all the paint solids out of the brush.
  • Now dip the brush into a clean container of paint thinner. Clean off any remaining paint from the bristles. Agitate the bristles for at least two minutes then spin the brush again.
  • Dip the paintbrush into a container of lacquer thinner. Stir the brush for about a minute to remove any remaining paint. You have to shake the brush onto newspaper to remove the lacquer thinner.
  • Now clean the brush in a bucket of soapy water. Work the bristles with your hand. Wrap the brush with heavy paper. Make sure you wrap it around the brush and tie it loosely with string. This step is very important as it helps to retain the shape of the brush.

How to Clean Shellac-Based Paints from Brushes

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Cleaning clear shellac varnish or pigmented shellac paints from brush requires a different solvent than what we used for latex and oil. You must use denatured alcohol or an ammonia household cleaner for this type of paint. When you are using an ammonia solution, make sure you mix it with warm water. Then wash the brush in warm water, and spin the brush in the bucket. Now wrap the brush with heavy paper. For denatured alcohol, the processes are the same as the oil-based paint cleanup but use the alcohol instead.

How to Clean Petrified Brushes

You can use brush cleaners to dissolve the crusty hard paint on your brushes. Remember the solvent-based cleaner can be used for any kind of brush but the water-based cleaner can only be used for synthetic brushes. You can use any of these solvents to remove both hardened latex and oil-based paint.

Soak the brushes for at least 24 hours to soften the paint. Once the paint is softened remove the brush and comb away from the remaining solid paints. If you use the solvent-based cleaner then soak the brush again for an hour in clean solution to remove any more paints. On the other hand for a water-based cleaner, wash the brush in soapy water and follow the remaining directions of cleaning latex paint from a brush.

Bottom Line

Finally, do not use a wire brush on a paintbrush instead use a nylon-bristle paint brush comb to clean the paint from the brushes. Using a wire brush may remove the dried paint from the tips of the bristle easily but it will damage the splits at the end of the bristles.

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