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No one wants to deal with dirty paintbrushes after a long day of painting. However, the longer you put off washing them, the more difficult it will be to get them clean again. Make no mistake – you do need to make sure they’re clean. Painting with a dirty brush will mess up any new paint job you undertake, making it that much harder to get the kind of uniform color consistency and smoothness you want.
Unfortunately, cleaning dirty paintbrushes can be easier said than done.
Fortunately, however, it can indeed be done with the right tools and know-how, such as is provided below.
- Strip Off the Excess Paint
First and foremost, you need to make sure that you get rid of the excess paint that is soaked into the bristles of the brush. Failure to do so can cause your paintbrush to stiffen and harden, which can ruin even the best paintbrushes in short order.
Thankfully, removing excess paint is easy. Simply dab or brush the paintbrush to the side of the paint can or other painting receptacles as you are using it to make sure that the brush does not soak up more paint than it needs. Doing this in between sections can be a great way of ensuring that the paintbrush remains free of a huge buildup of paint while also avoiding glomming a great deal of paint onto a surface, thereby creating unsightly paint bumps.
- Use a Solvent
Next, you’ll want to start cleaning the brush, which means selecting a solvent to break down and erase away the buildup of paint. While the right solvent for the job can vary somewhat between different kinds of paints, warm water paired with soap is always a good starting point. For latex and oil-based paints, this should often be enough. By contrast, if you are using something such as shellac paint, you may need to turn to some rubbing alcohol for help. A lacquer thinner can also be helpful for especially thick paints.
Place the brush into the soap and water mixture and let it sit there for at least 20 minutes. For a more active cleaning job, or if you’re in a hurry and there isn’t too much paint on the brush, you could try actively swirling it around in the warm soapy water for about 30 seconds and see where that gets you.
- Dry the Brush
Whatever your method for washing the brush, you need to take care to dry it. Leaving your brush wet can cause the bristles to become warped or damaged. Brush the wet brush on the paint can to squeeze off the excess water, or use a brush spinner or similar tool to help you remove it. Either way, you want to make sure the paintbrush is mostly dry and no longer dripping before you store it again.
Following these simple steps can help ensure that you are able to properly clean your paintbrushes after working with latex and oil paints.