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December 23rd, 2019 Cleaning Paint Brushes. Paint Basics.

When you are at a good stopping point for your painting project and you have sealed up your paint cans, it is time to clean your brush. While each professional painter can teach you a classic trade secret or a one-of-a-kind cleaning technique that he or she have developed over time, there are a few basics that painters of all experience levels should know. Below we will share the basics so you are ready to tackle your next painting project.  

The most important thing to know is that brushes must clean with each use! Cleaning brushes regularly and thoroughly extends the life of the brush and allows you to apply a consistent finish. The type of paint you have been using will determine the cleaning solution you will need. For instance, if you are painting with latex paint, you will clean your brush with warm water and a mild soap (bar or dish detergent.) If you are painting with oil-based paints, then you will clean your brush with mineral spirits.  


Cleaning latex paint from your brush:

Dip your brush into a small container with warm soapy water. Avoid using hot water, as it can damage the bristles and ruin your brush. Work the soapy water into the bristles for a few minutes and then rinse the brush with clean water. Repeat until the water remains clear and then spin the brush using your hand or a paint brush spinner to remove excess water before placing it back in its packaging and hanging it up.  

Cleaning oil-based paints from your brush:

Dip your brush into a small container with mineral spirits. Work the mineral spirits into the bristles and watch the paint leave the brush. Spin your brush to remove excess solvent and then dip the brush into a clean small container of a 50/50 mix of mineral spirits and denatured alcohol. Using a solution of only mineral spirits works, but it can leave your brush bristles stiff. Work the solution into the bristles again, spin the brush, and dip it into a clean, small container of denatured alcohol. Repeat until the solvent remains clear and then spin the brush before placing it back in its packaging and hanging it up.  

Cleaning tools:

Combing the brush with a brush comb (found at any paint store) is really helpful throughout this process. Many recommend using a wire brush starting from just beneath the ferrule (metal band connecting the bristles to the handle) and brushing down to the toe (the end of the bristles.) Be warned that brush manufacturers may warn against this, while many veteran painters swear by it. You can also purchase a mechanical brush spinner or use your hands. Try each to determine your preference!  

Take good care of your brush and it will return the favor! Do you have any trusted cleaning techniques that you recommend? If so, please add a comment.  

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