A newly painted house gives a fresh breath of air, while gives your mind a relaxing wave. But all of it can vanish when it comes to clean up the mess you leave behind. And the most annoying part of which is, cleaning of your paint brushes. Your brushes are a significant investment. By cleaning them carefully and properly at the end of a painting session, they will work better and last longer. It is well worth spending the little bit of time and energy necessary to take good care of them.
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Here are a few cleaning tips that will help you to keep your brushes painting like new for years.
- Wipe off any excess paint using an old newspaper. Gently squeezing the bristles from the ferrule edge outwards with your fingers, or with a cloth, it will help remove paint from the brush. Be gentle to avoid pulling on the bristles, though.
- For water-based paint: Put enough warm water into a container to fully cover the brush bristles. Put in a little liquid dishwashing Don’t use too large a container as you will be refilling it with clean soapy water more than a few times. Rinse and twirl the brush in the water working the soapy water into the bristles. Pour out the dirty water (see below for disposal recommendations) and change with clean soapy water. Go over until the brush is clean. Spin or flick the brush by hand or with a mechanical spinner to get rid of the water.
- For oil-based paint: First, decide which solvent is right for the painting product you are using. (The information can be written on the paint can.) Rule of thumb: use mineral spirits or paint thinner for oil-based paints, stains and varnishes. Use alcohol for shellacs. Pour sufficient solvent into a container to completely cover the brush bristles. Rinse and twirl the brush in the solvent, working it into the bristles. Do again the process with clean solvent until the bristles are clean. Spin or flick the brush by hand or with a mechanical spinner to get rid of the solvent.
- After the brush is clean, we recommend combing the bristles to get rid of any dried paint and to prevent the reshaping of the brush. This will help out to keep the heel of the brush from filling with hardened paint. Combing the brush is mainly important if you use a brush spinner as the bristles can become tangled. You can get brush combs at nearly all hardware and paint stores. We recommend the one bought to comb the loose hair out of our cat’s fur. After you are done with it, let it dry by handing on a peg or nail. You can also rest it on a flat surface. As soon as the brush is dry, put the protective jacket back on the brush. This will help to keep hold of the proper shape.
- Dripping paint solvents and water/latex paint mixtures down the drain could damage your septic system and is prohibited by most municipal sewage authorities. Don’t lose hope there is a simple solution. Pour water-based cleaning solutions in a large container and place it where the water can evaporate. I use a plastic bucket. Just the once the water has evaporated, you can peel off the latex residue and dispose of it. For dirty paint thinner use a large (I use a one-gallon plastic bottle) container and pour and let the paint sediment settle. After it is settled, you can decant the clean solvent and re-use it. Dispose of the solids as soon as the bottle gets full.