How to Clean Your Artist Brushes

It is important that you learn how to clean your artist brushes. You should never let paint build up and dry in your brushes. They will become totally imaginable and useless. Brushes should be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each painting session. You should first wash them out with solvent. Then, with lukewarm water and soap. Never use hot water. It will loosen the ferrule.

I use a metal two or three pound coffee can with a snap on lid, for the wash up solvent. I also have a screen int the bottom that is helpful in washing the paint from the brushes. When painting outdoors I use a jar with a screw on lid.

If you can not find a round screen for in your coffee can at your local art supply store you might fashion one from a can that is slightly smaller in size than the main can. Place the smaller can upside down and punch holes in it. This way the burrs will be on the downward facing side. If you feel this smaller can is too high, then you might try trimming some off. Be careful that you do not cut yourself. Now, you can place this can inside the larger can. Make sure you cover the smaller can or screen with an inch of solvent.


So, how to clean your artist brushes?  First remove any excess paint with a paper towel or rag.

Then, slosh the brush around in the solvent and across the screen or grate, if you have one. Make sure you get all the paint from the bristles; especially from around the ferrule. Of course if your painting with acrylics, you will naturally be using water instead of solvent.

Shake out the excess solvent or water.

Then wash your brushes in warm water and soap. You can use a good bar soap, or dish detergent or even Murphy’s oil soap. Apply the soap, making sure that you get it all way back to the ferrule.

Scrub the brush around in your hand, in a circular motion, and across the fingers, and pull out the bristles between your fingers. Rinse, then repeat several times if need be, until you see no color coming from the bristles.

Shape the bristles between your fingers, then lay the brush horizontally for drying. You can also stand the brush on it’s end with the bristles pointing upward.

I can not stress enough, the importance of the proper care and cleaning of your brushes. They can give you many good years of service.

I have a video on you tube, on  How to Clean Your Artist Brushes.

Artist Brushes    

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