cleaning a paint brush

How to Clean Paint Brushes?

Have you ever finished a painting project and stared at those messy brushes wondering how to get them clean again? Not to worry, you’ve got this.

Cleaning paint brushes is actually pretty straightforward if you follow a few simple steps. The key is not to let that paint dry on the bristles! Once dried it can be a real pain to remove. 

But with some solvent, patience and elbow grease you’ll have those brushes as good as new in no time. So gather your supplies, find a well-ventilated area and let’s get cleaning.

Your brushes will thank you, and your next painting project will go so much smoother with a quality set of brushes ready to go. Follow these tips and you’ll be rinsing, swishing and brushing your way to clean in just a few minutes.

How To Clean Oil-Based Paint Brushes

Cleaning oil-based paint brushes is important to keep them in good condition for your next paint job. If you don’t clean them properly, the bristles will harden and become unusable.

oil based paint  brush cleaning

To clean oil-based paint brushes, you’ll need some supplies: paint thinner or mineral spirits, a rag or paper towels, and a sealable metal container. You’ll also want to do this in a well-ventilated area away from any flames or sparks.

  1. Remove excess paint from the bristles with a rag. Wipe off as much as you can so you’re not thinning more paint than necessary.
  2. Pour some paint thinner or mineral spirits into the metal container. Mineral spirits are a bit gentler but either will work. For stubborn paint, you may need to use lacquer thinner.
  3. Dip the bristles in the solvent and swish them around. Use a brush comb to loosen caked-on paint. Let the brushes soak if needed.
  4. Remove the brushes from the solvent and wipe off the bristles with a clean rag. Repeat until the bristles feel soft and pliable again with no remaining paint residue.
  5. Rinse the brushes with water and let them air dry completely. Store them bristles up or suspended to retain their shape.

How to Clean Latex Paint Brushes

Once you’ve finished painting, it’s time to clean those brushes. If you used latex or acrylic paint, here are the steps:

Cleaning Latex Paint Brushes

First, rinse your brushes in a sink filled with lukewarm water. Swish them around to loosen the excess paint and get most of it out.

Next, wash the brushes with a mild detergent or soap specially formulated for paint brushes. Gently work the bristles with your fingers to remove any remaining paint residue. Rinse well with water until the water runs clear.

Then, reshape the bristles into their original form. Gently comb through them with your fingers while running them underwater. Let any excess water drip off.

Now comes the important part – conditioning the bristles.

Apply a brush conditioner or hair product like a leave-in conditioner to the bristles. Work it in from the base of the bristles to the tips. This will keep the bristles soft and prevent the brush from becoming stiff.

How to Store Clean Paint Brushes

To keep your paint brushes in good condition after cleaning, proper storage is key.


After washing your brushes, gently shake out excess water and lay them flat or handle down to air dry completely. Don’t stand them up in a holder, as water can seep down into the ferrule (the metal part that binds the bristles to the handle) and loosen the bristles.

Allow natural bristle brushes to dry slowly out of direct heat or sunlight. Synthetic bristles can handle a faster drying time but are also best left to air dry. Using a blow dryer can damage the bristles.


For short-term storage between painting sessions, you can keep brushes in an airtight container like a resealable plastic bag or lidded box. Add a few holes or slits in the sides to allow for some air circulation. This will keep bristles moist in between uses.

For long-term storage when a project is complete, keep brushes in an upright position to maintain the shape of the bristles. You can use a brush holder, mug, or jar. Avoid stacking brushes on top of each other.

Natural bristle brushes should be stored in a cool area away from direct heat. The ideal location is a closet, cabinet or drawer. Synthetic bristles are more durable but also benefit from storage away from extreme heat or cold.

How to Clean Paint Brushes- Conclusion

So there you have it, a few simple steps to get your paintbrushes clean as new. A little time and elbow grease can go a long way in keeping your tools in tip-top shape and ready for your next masterpiece.

When you care for your brushes properly, you’ll find they last longer and perform better. And clean brushes mean your colours stay true and your lines stay crisp.

Now all that’s left to do is get back to doing what you love – creating. Happy painting!

Get Involved

Share on social media:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Related Posts

Need advice on Exterior & Interior Painting?

Talk to one of our experts:

Contact us Now

0333 015 5051


Find us on Facebook

Advanced Painters

Advanced Painters are professional painters and decorators in the Home Counties. From exterior painting and rendering, to uPVC window spray painting and interior decorating, we produce high quality finishes that will transform the appearance of your property.

You may also like

7  Benefits Of Rendering A House

7  Benefits Of Rendering A House

Have you considered having your home rendered but are unsure if the expense is justified? Well, I will tell you...

Rendering A House – Before And After

Rendering A House – Before And After

As a homeowner, you likely want your house to look its best. An unrendered exterior can appear tired, dated, and...

How Much Does it Cost To Render a House in the UK?

How Much Does it Cost To Render a House in the UK?

In the UK, you want your house to be both aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound. Rendering is one method for...

Interior Wall Spray Paint: Best Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Interior Wall Spray

Interior Wall Spray Paint: Best Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Interior Wall Spray

Spraying painting used to be synonymous with graffiti on external walls but thanks to some clever new solutions, it’s increasingly...

Damp Proof Paints For Interior Walls: Your Interior’s Best Defence Mechanism

Damp Proof Paints For Interior Walls: Your Interior’s Best Defence Mechanism

No one wants to think about dampness, live with it, or spend hard-earned money putting it right. As homeowners just...

Interior Wood Paint: An Expert Guide

Interior Wood Paint: An Expert Guide

If you want to give your home a touch of TLC that will make you fall in love with it...

Call Now Button