Paintbrushes are an investment, and one of the most important tools for an artist. That’s why it’s crucial to take care of your brushes. When properly cared for, your brushes can last long and continue to perform well. Here are 8 tips for how to clean paint brushes and keep them in prime condition:
1. Avoid Getting Paint on the Ferrule: While painting, avoid immersing your brush in paint up to the ferrule. Wet paint is difficult to remove from this area, especially once it dries. The ferrule is what keeps the bristles of your brush together and in the right shape. If you get paint under the ferrule, the brush could split and lose its tip.
2. Clean Brushes Immediately After Painting: The number one rule for properly caring for your brushes is to clean them after you are done painting. Don’t wait and let the paint dry on your brushes. It makes it harder to clean them and can ruin the bristles and shape of the brush.
3. Rinse Out Your Brush: Don’t leave your brushes sitting in water! Soaking a brush for an extended period in water or mineral spirits can ruin the ferrule and brush. After painting, simply rinse your brush to help remove excess paint.
4. Remove Excess Paint: Use a soft rag or paper towel to squeeze out the excess paint and water. We love using rags because they can be reused many times!
5. Wash Your Brush: After you have removed any excess paint from your brush it is time to wash it. There are special artist soaps, but regular hand-washing soap does the trick. Watercolor and acrylic paint should be cleaned with mild soap and water. For oil paint, first, clean the brushes with mineral spirits and then with soap and water. If you wish to avoid mineral spirits, you can use baby oil or Murphy’s Oil Soap. To thoroughly clean your brush, put some soap on it and gently wash the bristles with your fingers by working the soap through the bristles. Finish by rinsing the soap off.
6. Use a Brush Preserver: We like to use a brush preserver when cleaning our brushes to make them last even longer! One of our favorites is The Master’s Brush Cleaner and Preserver. It works as a cleaner and brush conditioner to keep your brushes soft.
7. Reshape Your Bristles: To ensure your brushes hold their shape, it helps to reshape the bristles with your fingers after you wash them and use a brush preserver. This helps the bristles to sit in the right position as they’re drying so the brush will be ready for your next creative session!
8. Store Your Brushes Properly: Never rest your brush on its head. This will ruin the bristles and make the brush lose its shape. Let your paintbrush dry in a safe place, preferably lying horizontally so water doesn’t drip into the ferrule. Once dry, store them upright on the handle.
Learning how to clean paint brushes is easy! Once you know how to properly care for and store your brushes, you can make them last for years to come. Looking for more brush tips? Check out our tips and techniques page.