How to properly clean and restore paint brushes

As any decorator will tell you to keep your paintbrushes in the best possible condition and keep them performing at their best they need to be properly cleaned after every job. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the best ways to clean your brushes and also give you some tips on how to make your brushes easier to clean.

Have the right solutions to hand

While most paintbrush cleaning is carried out in a similar way, different paints require slightly different chemicals and solutions to remove them from the brush. As a rough guide here are the best solutions to use with each type of paint, but always check the cleaning advice on the paint label as well.

Cellulose – Amyl acetate from the chemist is a great and cheap option for removing cellulose paint.

Varnish – Use methylated spirits for removing varnish

Rubber – Rubber-based paints can be removed using petrol

Polyurethane – Paraffin or white spirit will remove polyurethane paint

Oil-based paint – White spirit and paraffin

Water-based emulsion – Nothing more than water and a little washing-up liquid.

Wrap brushes in clingfilm during breaks

If you are taking a break from painting, then make sure you wrap your brushes in clingfilm to stop air from drying out the bristles. This can also be used to keep brushes fresh overnight helping to minimise the amount of cleaning that you need to do. If you will be leaving brushes for a longer period of time, then you really do need to clean them properly to stop them from drying out.

Clean as much paint off the bristles as possible

It might sound obvious but the more paint that you can remove from your paintbrush prior to cleaning the easier your job will be. This is easiest achieved immediately after painting as the bristles will be at their most pliable. Use old newspaper and a painter’s rag to clean as much paint as you can before moving to the next step.

All non-water based paints

As you will be working with chemicals and solutions you will want to keep your hands properly protected so put on some common household rubber gloves. Depending on what paint you have been using add a small amount of the solution to the bottom of a paint kettle and work into the bristles with your gloved hands. After removing from the solution clean using a painter’s rag and old newspaper. Repeat this process with clean solution until it remains fairly clear at which point you can rinse out your brush.

Rinse out your brush

Once you are happy that you have removed as much paint as possible you will want to wash them using hot soapy water to remove any remaining paint. You can then rinse your brushes out under a warm tap until the water runs clear.

Dry and store

When you’re satisfied that your brush is clean shake out as much of the water as possible and using a clean rag and newspaper dry the bristles as much as possible. Wrap the brush in five or six sheets of newspaper keeping it in its natural shape and hold in place with a rubber band. If your brush has a hole in the handle, then pass some string through this to hang it up to dry.