The Basics of Brush Cleaning


A top quality brush not only gives you excellent painting performance, it will continue to do so through many painting projects over the years if you maintain proper brush cleaning and storage.

Bristle Brushes

Natural bristle brushes are best suited for use with oil-base paints and stains, varnishes, lacquers and shellacs. Clean your brush as soon as possible after use. Follow the instructions on the container to select the proper cleaning solvent (paint thinner or mineral spirits for paint, stain and varnish, alcohol for shellac, etc.). Work the solvent through the bristles, dipping up and down in the solvent several times. Take special care to work it into the center of the brush and down to the ferrule, the metal band that holds the bristles to the handle. A brush comb is helpful in removing stubborn paint residue and also straightens the bristles so they will dry straight. Dry thoroughly and store in the brush keeper, which helps the bristles retain their shape.

Nylon/Polyester Brushes

Synthetic filament brushes can be used with all paints, but are used most often in faster drying latex and water-base paints. When used with oil-base paints, you can follow the cleaning directions outlined above. For water-based paints, warm to hot water and mild soap suds are the best cleaning agents for most applications. In many cases, more than one washing is required. Use a clean container, soapy water wash and a clean water rinse. Again, a brush comb is helpful in removing stubborn paint residue. Occasionally, a bath of thinner or mineral spirits, followed by a warm soapy water wash and clean water rinse may be necessary to clean particularly stubborn paint. Finally, dry the brush thoroughly, reshape it with the brush comb, and store in its original keeper.

Learn from the Pros

Store a brush by hanging it Whenever possible,. Whatever you do, don't store a brush on its tips, which will curl its fine, flagged ends made for quality painting, thus rendering it useless.

Don’t soak brushes in water, commercial cleaners or even paint. They will lose their shape and, in addition, such abuse will destroy the epoxy setting.

Don’t store a brush that has any wet paint left on it.

A good brush costs more than a disposable one, but it will do a much better job and if you take care of it, it will last a long time.

Courtesy of Purdy Worldwide