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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to Clean and Store Your Art Brushes

Quality paint brushes are an investment. If cared for properly they can last for many years.  Here are some tips to clean and care for your brushes to help them last.

  • Always wash your paintbrush thoroughly after use. Water based paints can be cleaned with warm water. Oil based paints will require paint thinner.  Begin by wiping excess paint from the brush with a rag or paper towel.  Next clean by using the appropriate cleaning solution for the type of paint you have been using (water, or paint thinner, etc),
  • Be sure to get all the paint out of the bristles otherwise the paint will dry in the brush and stiffen it. Take care to get the last little bits out of the bristles near the ferrule. (The ferrule is the metal band that binds the bristles of a brush to its handle.)
    Be careful not to bend the paintbrush back and forth too much. Let the water run over and through the paintbrush.
  • Do not crush, dab, or smash your brush on the bottom of a container or sink.
  • You can buy special brush cleaning soaps that contain conditioners. You can also use a mild regular soap to clean your brush, but be sure to rinse well to ensure all soap has been removed.  If you are using a brush soap, rinse the brush with water and work the head gently on the soap to form a lather. Be sure to get the lather into the heel (near the metal ferrule) and interior of the brush.
  • Do not leave your brush soaking.  This is harmful for a few reasons. It is damaging to rest the brush on its bristles, and the liquid will soak into the wood of the handle which can cause the ferrule to loosen and the glue that holds the bristles in may dissolve.
  • Rinse and repeat if necessary until lather is clean.  When the brush is clean, squeeze the bristles between your fingers to remove excess water, you can also blot excess water with a clean rag or paper towel.
  • Reshape the head of the brush with your fingers. If the bristles won't stay in shape, use a piece of tissue paper, or paper towel to wrap carefully around the bristles while the brush is still damp. As it dries, it will keep the brush in shape.
  • Do not allow the brush to dry with the hairs pressed against any surface as this will deform the shape of the brush. While your brush is still drying, be certain to either lay the brush flat or suspend it, bristle end facing down, but not touching anything, so that the head maintains its shape and water does not drain into the ferrule.
  • Once the brush is dry, you can store it upright on its handle end.

Until next time,


Great info. I'm always buying new brushes because I forget to clean after use or leave them soaking in water.

Great tips! I have had my brushes for years and it's only because I clean them all after using. Haven't used them in a while but they are all waiting for me when the time comes.

One more tip: if your cat likes to chew on the bristles, it's best to keep them where she can't get to them.


Good tip for cat owners. I have 4 cats myself, I am sure they would actually steal my brushes and play with them, if they could get to them. I keep them out of the reach of little paws! :D


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