How To Clean Your Paint Brushes The Right Way

People spend a lot of money when they decide on painting their home or apartment. Most of this money is spent on the various tools and accessories you need for interior decorating. Good paint brushes may be expensive but they are more than worth the money as they can be used or and over again in future painting project. If you care for your paint brushes properly that is. Cleaning your paint brushes isn't rocket science and even the most amateur of painters can handle this task.

Water Based Paint

If you're using water based paint then cleaning up your brushes is fairly easy; even if you've let them sit and dry up for a short while. Cleaning your paint brushes immediately after use is the smart course of action but sometimes we just forget these things eh? First, remove any excess paint that is still on the brush by wiping it on a old rag. Then, run cool or slightly warm water over the brush until the water dripping from the brush is clear. Gently press the brush bristles against the side of the sink or other hard surface to remove excess water. Allow the brush to dry. Badda bing - one clean paint brush!

Latex Paint

If you've gotten latex paint on a brush this can also be cleaned off with water - just don't leave it until the paint has dried completely; otherwise you might have to trash the brush. First put some soap in a bucket of water and then clean the brush in that bucket. (Please avoid washing the paint down your sink if you have a septic system. The chemicals in the paint can really do some damage to your system and could get absorbed into groundwater, contaminating your well.)

If you have waited until the paint has dried fully before you clean your brushes, you will need to use a special solvent that was formulated to remove latex paint. A painter mentioned recently that he uses rubbing alcohol to clean up dried latex paint - this might be something you can try in a pinch.

Oil Based Paint

Oil based paint simply will not wash out with water no matter how hard you try. It is basic science – oil and water don’t mix and the oil just repels the water. You will have to use a chemical based product, such as paint thinner, to clean your brushes. Make sure you wear protective gloves and have plenty of ventilation before you start as the fumes can be very toxic in a confined space.

You will need a metal container, such as an old coffee can, the paint thinner or other solvent and a rag. Put a few inches of paint thinner in the coffee can, dip the brush in and move it around a bit to make sure the thinner removes the paint. Make sure you get rid of any solvent on the brush before you pull it out of the container.

Wiping the brush on the edge of the can is a good way to do this. When the brush seems clean, wipe it on the rag to get rid of any left over solvent residue. Keep in mind that the paint thinner is toxic and flammable, so you can’t just toss the used thinner in the trash or pour it down the drain. Check your area’s waste disposal guidelines to find out how to get rid of the leftover thinner.

To be sure your paint brushes are ready for the next big painting job, you should take the time to store them properly after you've cleaned them. Years of sitting with their bristles pressed against a surface can make brushes uneven. Instead, hang your brushes so that the bristles aren’t pressing up against anything or store them on their sides on a flat surface. You paid good money for these quality paint brushes - make sure you take care of them in the long term.