Q&A / 

How to Clean Paint Brushes Video

Cleaning paint brushes is a chore for most people. At the end of a job, you are tired and the last thing on your mind is the paint brush. But guess what, if you follow some techniques and few of Tim's tricks, you can extend the life of that paint brush for many, many years.

Most of you don't realize that the cleaning process begins before you start painting. If you are using latex paint, get the paint brush wet with a little bit of water. If you are using oil-based paint, use a little mineral spirits or paint thinner. Those fluids will keep the bristles wet up near the handle. Without that fluid contact, the paint will dry very quickly and at the end of the day, it is almost impossible to get that paint off the brush.

Once you are ready to clean the brush, remove as much paint as you can on a scrap piece of lumber or cardboard. Use soapy, warm water to clean latex paint from brushes. Mineral spirits or paint thinner is required for oil-based paints.

The trick is to submerge the brush in the cleaning solution and use rapid side-to-side motions to rinse the paint from the brush. You will need to change your cleaning solution frequently until your solution remains clear as you move the brush around.

Now if you want to ruin your expensive paint brush, here are some common mistakes. Never hold a brush upside down in a stream of water. Don't jam your brush down on the bottom of the sink or bucket to rinse it and the paint from the bristles. This will weaken and crush the bristles.

Once you have finished the cleaning process, use a comb to comb out as much water as possible. Treat your brush just as you do your hair after getting out of the shower.

Use the hole in the brush handle to hang it up on a nail after using and cleaning it. If you take care of your paint brush, it will last for many years.


5 Responses to How to Clean Paint Brushes Video

  1. HI Tim:
    I agree with all you say in this video.
    Thank you.
    I would like you to consider redoing or at least re-sending this video with the following instruction.
    Do not pour your contaminated water down the drain.
    I realized many years ago that I was adding to the pollution of my drinking water by doing this,
    I now have a shallow hole in the back of my property that I keep filled with leaves and this is where I get rid of my cleaning paint.
    I came to that conclusion when I read the Humanure book by Joe Jenkins.
    We have not flushed our contributions down the toilets since reading this book as well as our paint water and other kinds of liquid pollution.
    Just type in Humanure or go to the link below.
    I'd love your feedback on this.

  2. What should I do with the mineral spirits left after cleaning a paint brush in it? I don't want to pour it on the ground. Or even the water used for cleaning a brush with latex paint?

  3. Robert,

    I've been told latex paint is one of the best ways to kill the good
    bacteria in a septic system. You're doing the right thing!


  4. Tim, thanks for the useful tips. Early in my professional career, I was mentored by an old-time painting contractor regarding cleaning brushes, and you described what he pounded into me. Apparently, his teachings still have relevance. Another tip he gave me - and that I have used both professionally and personally for a couple of decades - was to treat the bristles with hair conditioner after washing, and to wrap the bristles in a paper towel to retain the brush's shape while drying. Interestingly, the technique works with both natural and synthetic bristles. I even use leave-in conditioner on my brushes for water-based paints, simply rinsing it out as I re-wet them prior to painting. I have a handful of premium brushes over twelve years old and as functional as when they were new. Selfishly, they're hidden away from the "untrained" painters in my household!

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.