The Secret to Cleaning your Paint Brushes like the Pros


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The secret in keeping the life of your paint brush doesn’t only depend on its quality; it also relies on how you take good care of them after every use. A paint brush can possibly retire after a few strokes, unless you learn how to tend to it the proper way. In this article, we will provide you with the information you have been dying to know. We will share the secrets to cleaning your paint brushes like a pro.

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Before we get into the details, make sure you are familiar with the kind of paint you are dealing with. As the composition used in diverse paint varies from one another, the chemicals used to wash them off your brushes also differ.


This kind of paint is usually used for exterior painting jobs and DIY projects, and is known to be very durable. It is made with water soluble based built on vinyl and acrylics. Since it is water-based, it can easily be cleaned with soap and water.

Shellac-Based Paint

Shellac can be obtained from lac bugs. It is a resin product secreted by these bugs which are known to be native in India and Thailand. To get it, the dried flakes are soaked in denatured alcohol until it becomes liquid. It is great to use as primers and identified to kill bacteria that cause odors. Cleaning it will require you to use denatured alcohol or any ammonia household cleaner.

Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paint is more common than the others as it is considered a great buy at a reasonable price. It is made with either synthetic or natural oils.It is thicker than Latex and Shellac-based paint, so cleaning is considered complicated compared to the aforementioned ones. You might be required to use mineral spirits like paint thinner to remove it from your paint brushes.

Steps in Cleaning your Paint Brushes

Now that you have familiarized yourself with the common paint composition, you are ready to know the secrets to keeping your paint brushes’ lives long. Make sure to take note of the steps as well as the things you need to prepare in order to be successful in doing so.

For paint brush used with water-Based paint, you need:

  • A bucket
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Newspaper
  • Paintbrush Comb
  • Heavy Paper
  • String

1. To clean off your paint brush, the first thing you should do is to scrape off any remaining paint from it. You may use the rim of any edgy object like a tin can to do this. You may also clean it using the paintbrush comb or you may wipe it with newspaper. As much as possible, you should make sure that you brush is free of paint before moving on to the next step.

2. Prepare a bucket of soapy water and wash your brush in it. Make sure to remove the paint from the bristles.

3. After washing, spin the brush to remove the excess paint and water.

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4. Prepare a bucket of clean water and rinse your paint brush thoroughly. Spin it. You may repeat the procedure until the brush is clean enough.

5. Using any heavy paper, wrap your paint brush neatly and tie it with a string. This is to keep the shape of the brush. Dry it and it will be ready for the next use.

For paint brush used with shellac-based paint, you need:

  • Newspaper/Scrap wood
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Ammonia household cleaner
  • Heavy Paper
  • String/Rubber Band

1. Make sure to clean your brushes right after every use. Squeeze out the remaining paint from your paint brush. You can brush it onto a scrap wood or a newspaper.With less paint, it becomes easier to clean completely.

2. Prepare the ammonia solution. Mix an amount twice as much as you use in cleaning floors with warm water. Dip the brush and press it several times against the bottom until most or all of the shellac is removed.

3. With clean water, wash the paint brush thoroughly until the remaining shellac and ammonia residue is removed. Spin it completely.

4. Finally, wrap the paint brush with heavy paper and secure it with a string or a rubber band. Hang it on a hook or secure it in a cabinet.Take note that it will take a few days for the brush to completely dry off.

For paint brush used with oil-based paint, you need:

  • Newspaper
  • Buckets
  • Wire Paint Comb
  • Paint Thinner
  • Lacquer Thinner
  • Brush-and-roller spinner
  • Gloves (chemical resistant)
  • Dish Soap

1. As you will be using dangerous chemicals, the first thing that you have to do is to wear gloves to protect yourself and secure a place which is far from anything that may cause reaction to the chemical you will use. It is recommended that you do the cleaning outdoors.

2. Half fill the bucket with paint thinner and soak your paint brush in it. Then, remove the paint using the wire paint comb. You may also work it with your hand.

3. Using the brush-and-roller spinner, spin the brush until all the solid paint is removed.

4. Prepare another bucket of paint thinner and repeat the process. This is to remove all the remaining paint from the paint brush. Spin it well.

5. Fill another bucket with a lacquer thinner. Dip the brush and shake it against it to take away the remaining residue. Shake off the residue onto a newspaper.

6. Get a bucket of soapy water and work on the bristles. Spin it well and keep if for next use.


There could be various ways to keep your paint brushes in best condition for a long time. As they have been proven effective, you may always choose which one works best for you.

Just make sure that safety comes first, so be sure to follow the necessary step in order to get the best of these procedures.

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