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How to clean a paintbrush

By Peta Boyce

Updated: October 5th, 2021

Painting like a boss but not fond of the final clean-up? We have the paintbrush cleaning hacks you need.

When it comes time for a DIY project, many of us find ourselves making like a local painter slathering and splashing with a paintbrush or two. It is a messy job but painting is so tempting to get stuck into.

After a hard day on the tools, your masterpiece is complete and the last thing you want to do is clean your paintbrushes. We’ve all been here before – you wrap your brush in plastic only to find it sets as hard as nails before you remember to clean it, then kick yourself in the proverbial for dodging the task in the first place.

Big brush or small brush – we have it covered. Our paintbrush cleaning hacks make cleaning easier and can bring new life to hardened brushes about to be ditched. These hacks are that easy you will look like a professional handyman in no time!


Cleaning your paintbrushes will help with their longevity

How to clean a paintbrush

Follow these steps as soon as you finish painting.

  1. Scrape any excess paint back into the paint tin – you can use the rim of the tin for this
  2. Work whatever is left on the brush onto some newspaper
  3. Mix a quarter cup of fabric softener with 4 cups of warm water into a bucket, then swish your brush around the mixture and use your hands to work the paint out of the bristles
  4. Take the brush out and spin it in a pail, removing any paint and water
  5. Rinse the brush again in a bucket of clean water, then repeat the spin and another rinse in clean water
  6. Dry the brush by giving it one last spin
  7. Your paintbrush is now ready to store

* Tip: if you are using an oil-based paint, you will need to use a paint thinner for steps 3 and 5 before washing your brush out in soapy water followed by clean water. Be careful you don’t splash the thinner onto surrounding furniture or items.

How to bring life back to a paintbrush

This method is great to use for brushes with paint that has hardened over time. It is chemical-free and you don’t need to be an expert painter to master it.

Don’t ditch your old paintbrushes, try bringing them back to life
  1. Pour enough vinegar into a pot to cover the bristles of your paintbrush
  2. Leave your brush in the vinegar and bring it to the boil on the stovetop, then simmer for a few minutes
  3. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool
  4. Take the brush out of the vinegar and once cool enough to touch, comb the bristles with your fingers. You will notice the paint start to crumble as you continue to comb it through
  5. Rinse the paintbrush in cold water – we suggest using a bowl of water rather than flushing the paint down your sink
  6. Depending on how long your brush has been left unattended, you might need to repeat these steps a couple of times

* Tip: if you don’t like the aroma of vinegar, cover the simmering pot with a lid.

If you follow these tips above you will have a paintbrush that can well outlast the length of a Kim Kardashian marriage.

Not a fan of painting? Don’t forget you could just hire an Airtasker painter to help you out then!


Peta B

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