How to clean paintbrushes that are petrified by paint?

Let’s accept it – we have all done it before, including you. But you have done this again! This is why you are busy racking the internet about how to clean paintbrushes. Assuming that you have done this before and that led you to dispose of the brushes, you must be extra cautious this time. As you already know, if the paint dries out on the brushes, not only will using them be difficult the next time, but they will also stiffen, and you will have to throw them out.

In this detailed step-by-step guide, you will learn how to clean paintbrushes using solvents of different types, the frequency within which you must clean them, and how to dry and store them for the future. Here’s skipping to the content –

How to clean paintbrushes when used with oil-based paint?

When you use oil-based paints, alternatively known as enamel paints, a simple soap-water combo will not be able to clean the paintbrushes. So, how to clean paintbrushes that are dipped in such kind of paint? Here’s the techniques –

  • Before starting off the cleaning technique, you have to drip as much paint as possible from the brushes. Either press them against the container or wipe them off with the newspaper.
  • Next, you will have to choose the cleaning solvent that will help you remove the paint. The alternatives available are – citrus-based solvents (contain plant-based organic compounds and terpenes), paint thinners (with turpentine and trimethyl benzene), and mineral spirits (pure petroleum distillate).
  • Get a plastic container, pour any of your chosen solvents, and drip the brush into it. Wear gloves and swirl the brush for some time before leaving it out.
  • Once you see that the paint has come off, you will have to blend dishwashing soap with hot water and wash the brush with the same. Once the solvent has been obliterated, you will have to wash off the brush and either drip-dry it or wrap it in a towel or newspaper to dry the same.
  • Lastly, do not dispose of the solvent in the sink or bathroom. Allow it to evaporate as you leave it in a dry space.

How to clean paintbrushes when used with water-based paint?

When you are talking about water-based paints, the available range includes – latex, tempera, acrylics, and watercolor.

  • You will have to remove the paint completely from the brush. For that, you will have to squeeze the paint out of the brush and wrap it with a newspaper. Basically, you will have to dry it out completely.
  • Next thing that you have to check while thinking about how to clean paintbrushes is – in what proportion you have to blend hot water and dishwashing liquid. The ratio is liquid: water – 1:4. If you have more brushes or they are more stained, then you may need to increase the amount of liquid in the water.
  • You will have to swish the brush next. Swish it vigorously to remove the paint. If that is not enough, you will have to squeeze out the excess paint from the brush. You may also use a paintbrush comb to help remove the paint from the bristles.
  • Before you dry the brush, we recommend you double-clean the brush with the cleaning solution. Once that is done, you will have to wash the paintbrush under hot running water. After that, wipe the brush to dry, or use a brush spinner and hang it to dry.
  • You can pour this cleaning solution down the drain without any issues.
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how to clean paintbrushes

How to clean paintbrushes where the paint has completely dried – out?

Here’s the techniques you may follow –

When you prepare the cleaning solution, you will have to increase the amount of dishwashing liquid in hot water. Also, rather than dipping the brush for some time, you will have to dip it overnight to remove the paint. At times, you can swish the brush to check if the paint is loosening or not. The next morning, you will have to follow the steps mentioned above.

How will you clean shellac-based paint from brushes?

Assuming you are looking for answers to how to clean paintbrushes that are dripped with shellac paint, this section will give you an idea of the same.

For cleaning brushes dipped in shellac-varnish or shellac pigment paint, you will require ammonia cleaner or denatured alcohol. When you are using ammonia solvent, you will have to proceed by –

  • Mix this ammonia solvent in water in a 2:1 ratio. Use warm water for this process.
  • Put in the brush and rinse it vigorously to remove the paint. If required, keep the brushes for 4-5 hours.
  • Once that is done, rinse the water off the brush, use a brush spinner and dry out the brush.

When you are using denatured alcohol, you will have to follow the oil-based paint’s cleanup format. Just replace it with alcohol.

How will you clean dried brushes?

For most people who are looking for how to clean paintbrushes that have completely dried out, here are the answers-

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Have you tried vinegar? It is especially effective for paintbrushes that have dried out completely.

  • You will require white vinegar, pots, and a stovetop.
  • You must put one cup of vinegar and place the brush in it. Put it on the stovetop and let it come to a boil. As it is simmering, you will have to cover the pot.
  • Once you remove the pot from the stove, let it cool down before removing the brush. After it cools down, you will have to shake the brush vigorously. Initially, the paint will not come out fully – but with time, it will.
  • Once most of the paint has come out, you will have to hold it under running cold water.

If it does not work the first time, repeat this 3-4 times, and you will see the results for yourself.

how to clean paintbrushes

How often do you need to clean the brushes?

At the earliest! That would save your brushes and ensure you can use them again. If that is not feasible, then try to clean the paintbrushes within an hour.

In case you know that it will take some time before you get to wash the paintbrushes, you could simply wrap the bristles in plastic wrap. This will ease the process of cleaning.

How will you store the brush for the future?

Just knowing how to clean paintbrushes is not enough. To ensure you can use it in the future, you must store it well. It is natural that after you remove the paint using water or the solvent as mentioned above – traces of water will remain. How would you store them?

  • Vigorously shake the brush to remove water droplets. You can also wrap it with a dry towel first and then shake the brushes.
  • You can also use a brush spinner to help it dry. If required, repeat the process.
  • If moisture still remains – you can blot it with a paper towel, cloth towel, or a newspaper.
  • Lastly, you can hang the brush down while the bristles drop the water.

Once they are entirely dried – you will have to wrap them up in towels and store them in a container.

Concluding with

First, decide what the condition of your brush is, and then pick out the ways you want to clean the same. Now that you have clarity about how to clean paintbrushes it would be best if you follow the techniques to do the same. For more updates on topics such as – keep following this page.