How to Clean Paint Brushes

Cleaning furniture painting tools and supplies after painting furniture is a must, and this includes your paint brushes. You won’t want to skimp on cleaning them! But you’ve got to learn how to clean paint brushes for each type of paint as there are different techniques you should use. Water-based paints, such as acrylics or latex, will require a slightly different approach than oil-based paints.

Cleaning paint brushes is a pretty simple process that can help keep them in good shape and stop any paint from ruining them.

photo of piled up brushes with text overlay

Doing this thoroughly means that any new projects you start with them won’t be affected by any left over paint particles. Again, different types of paint for furniture will need different cleaning techniques, so it’s important to get to know the right methods for each type.

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Also, making sure to clean paint brushes properly will help prevent bristle damage or deformation over time.

So, if you take the time to clean your paint brushes, they should last a lot longer!

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How to Clean Paint Brushes

After painting with paint brushes, make sure to never let them dry out. Wrap the brush in plastic or tin foil or put it in a container filled with water that covers just the bristles until you can clean them out. Don’t forget about them though! They need to be cleaned out as soon as possible.

wrapping the brush in plastic to prevent from drying out

If you used water based paints like chalk paint, mineral paint, acrylic paint, or alkyd paints, use dish soap and warm water to clean your paint brushes. If you used oil based paint, use mineral spirits or paint thinner to clean your paint brushes.

If you aren’t sure what to clean your brushes with, read the instructions on the paint to see what they recommend cleaning up the paint with.

If you need some tips on picking the right paint brush for your painting projects, here’s our post about the best paint brushes for painting furniture.

How to Clean Water Based Paint From Paint Brushes

Next, give the brush a good rinse to get rid of any excess paint, and dip it into a fresh container of water to let more paint come out from within the bristles.

giving the paint brush a good rinse under running water

Let the brush soak for a couple of hours overnight before washing it with dish soap and warm water. Finally, lay your brush flat to dry. However the bristles dry is basically how they will end up shaped like.

Remember, you should always let the brushes air-dry before storing them away – this prevents any bristles from becoming deformed.

Honestly, in my opinion, cleaning a paint brush is just as time consuming as cleaning out a paint sprayer. So if cleaning is the thing that is keeping you from using a paint sprayer, don’t let it!

Can’t decide between brush painting and spray painting furniture? Check out this spray paint vs brush paint furniture comparison to help you decide.

How to Clean Oil Based Paint from Paint Brushes

For the most part, the process is the same, except you don’t use water and soap to clean paint brushes with oil based paint on them.

I like to put an inch or two of mineral spirits in a disposable plastic container (like sour cream or yogurt container), and then stir my paint brush around (and push it down against the bottom of the container) in the mineral spirits to rinse most of it off.

Then I dispose of the dirty mineral spirits and put clean mineral spirits in the container again. This time I fill it up to just below the bristle line on the paint brush. I let the brush soak in the mineral spirits for a few hours to let the paint from inside the brush seep out.

Then, I rinse the brush out with soapy warm water to remove the mineral spirits residue.

And of course, I also lay these brushes flat to dry before using them again.

Best Paint Brush Cleaner

When it comes to picking the best paint brush cleaner, you want something that’s gonna be gentle yet effective.

One option is Dawn Dish Soap – it’s a fantastic all-purpose cleaner for paint brushes. Not to mention, it’s budget-friendly and readily available in most stores.

photo of dawn dish soap to use for cleaning paint brushes

Here’s another awesome option: Country Chic Paint Brush Cleaner.

It’s specially designed to keep your bristles in tip-top shape, while still being strong enough to remove paint residue. It has a pleasant peppermint scent and it’s made with natural ingredients that are kind on the environment too.

But of course, if you’re working with oil based paints, you need to stick to either mineral spirits, paint thinner, or whatever the paint container says to use to clean up the paint.

Remember to let your brushes air-dry before putting them away – this will prevent them from becoming deformed or damaged.

How to Clean Polyurethane Brush

Polyurethane is a great way to finish furniture and other wood projects, and a brush is a great tool for the job! It’s important to choose the right type of brush though – see the best paint brush for polyurethane here.

You can also check out the comparison of spraying polyurethane vs brushing on polyurethane to help you figure out which method suits you best.

For water based polyurethane on paint brushes, use the same method as for cleaning paint brushes described above. Make sure you never let the brush dry out and rinse it before immersing it in a container of water to allow more polyurethane to come out from within the bristles.

photo of paint brushes soaked in water

Let the brush soak for a couple of hours overnight before washing with dish soap and warm water and drying flat.

How to Clean Oil Based Polyurethane Brush

Cleaning an oil-based polyurethane brush is slightly different than cleaning a water-based one. For oil based polyurethane on paint brushes, use the same method as with oil based paints, using mineral spirits or paint thinner.

It’s important to remember that oil and water-based polyurethanes are very different and require different methods of cleaning in order for them to last longer.

Mineral spirits are a better choice since they are stronger than dish soap and will help break down the oil-based polyurethane more effectively.

And there you have it, take care of your paint brushes and they’ll take care of you! With the right cleaning techniques, you should be able to keep your paint brushes in great condition for years to come and create consistent quality painting results.

More Furniture Paintbrush Tips

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