How To Clean Old Paint From Paint Brushes

A good paint brush has always been a decent investment.

Yes, of course you can buy what we in the industry refer to as a “throw-away” brush, but unless the project you are doing is literally a ‘one-time’ event, there certainly is value in learning to maintain this seemingly small investment.

If you want to know how to clean old paint from paint brushes, it’s not too hard!

Paint brushes can get messy when we use them, but we can absolutely clean them up and use them again.

Here’s how to do it…

Materials you’ll need:

  • – Sheet or Dropcloth
  • – Old Paint Brushes
  • – Brush Cleaner
  • – Brush Comb or Wire Brush
  • – Water
  • – An Empty Bucket
  • – Mild Dish Soap
  • – A Soft Cloth

Step 1: Gather Your Brushes

First, gather all the old paint brushes you want to clean. Make sure you have a safe place to work, like a table covered with a sheet or dropcloth to catch any drips.

Step 2: Rinse with Water

Take a brush and run it under warm water. This will get rid of some of the old paint. Be gentle when you do this, so you don’t damage the bristles (the hairs on the brush). Try to remove as much paint as possible by rinsing.

Step 3: Utilize ‘Brush Cleaner’

This is a product that can be bought from a variety of places (box stores, hardware stores, online, etc.). Follow the instructions on the label.

Step 4: Soak in Soapy Water

Next, fill an empty bucket with warm water and add a little bit of mild dish soap (I prefer ‘Dawn’). Gently put the paint brushes into the soapy water. Let them soak for about 10-15 minutes. This will help to soften the old paint.

Step 5: Scrub Gently

After soaking, take a brush out of the soapy water. Use a ‘brush comb’ and/or a ‘wire brush’ (both available, again, at box stores, hardware stores, online, etc.) to gently work the bristles of the brush and get as much of the remaining paint off as possible. Follow this by using a soft cloth to softly work away any remaining paint. Be careful not to scrub too hard, so you don’t damage the bristles.

Step 6: Rinse Again

Once you’ve scrubbed away most of the old paint, rinse the brush under warm water again. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear and there is no more paint residue coming off the brush.

Step 7: Dry the Brushes

After cleaning, shake off any excess water from the brush. You can gently reshape the bristles with your fingers if needed. Then, lay the brushes flat on a clean, dry surface to let them air dry. Make sure they are not touching each other (there is also a manual device that is called a ‘brush spinner’ which with the aid of an empty 5-gallon bucket can be used to help accelerate the drying process).

Step 8: Store Your Clean Brushes

Once your brushes are completely dry, you can put them away for the next time you want to paint. The next time you have a project they will work much better without old paint on them.

If you have trouble getting all the paint off in the first run through, you can always repeat the actions that were laid out for better results.

Cleaning old paint from paint brushes is a terrific way to take care of your brushes and save money by being able to use the same brushes again and again.

An even more solid tip however may be to remember to thoroughly clean your brushes after each use, which lessens the chance of a more difficult cleaning being needed in the future

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