Paint Brush Cleaning

Proper acrylic paint brush cleaning is the best way to get the most life from your brushes. I have used many methods to clean acrylic paint brushes and this one has been the best for me.  I use inexpensive yet good quality brushes but they only do a great job as long as I care for them properly.

Acrylic Paint brush cleaning isn’t hard, time-consuming, or expensive. How to clean paint brushes well is simply a matter of a few steps while you are painting and once you are done.

I have tried many brands and styles of brushes.  One thing I have learned is they do not need to be expensive but they do need proper care.  I confess I have ruined a few. Not intentionally… but from lack of proper cleaning of the paint brush on my absent-minded days.

acrylic paint brushes with paint, paint brush cleaning

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Here is a link to my Painting Supplies post where I list some brands I use that won’t break the bank.  Currently, I am primarily using the Donna Dewberry One Stroke set.

I ordered some from Amazon back when I started referring folks to them for the brushes as I wanted to be sure the ones sent were of the same quality I had been using for a long time.  I can confidently say they are and if you give them the TLC they deserve they will serve you well.

Paint Brush Care while Painting

One trick to keep in mind when painting with acrylics is to dampen your brush before you load it with paint.  Not dripping but just damp.  Starting with the bristles damp prevents the paint from drying in the bristles too quickly and building up making you lose your chisel edge while painting.  It won’t stop it, but it will lengthen the amount of time you have before you need to completely rinse your brush out to get rid of too much paint in the bristles.

Paint Brush Cleaning Tools

My go-to tool that I love and would not be without while painting is my brush caddy basin.

paint brush basin

As you can see my brush basin is well used.  The ribs on the left side are wonderful for getting paint out of the brush thoroughly.

When I need to clean my brush I start in the ribbed (left) side of the basin and run my brush up and down the ribs, not hard but enough to work out the paint.

Next, rinse in one of the right side sections, dab on a towel (paper or cloth), and continue to paint.

For the final clean of the brushes for the day, use a brush cleaner.  I have tried many including just plain dish soap but I always come back to this one.
The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver 

How to Clean Acrylic Paint Brushes

Rinse the paint from the brush as listed above then stroke the brush onto the brush cleaner. Masters Brush Cleaner is solid, like bar soap. Work the brush into the soap, brush back and forth.

Then take the brush back to the basin and repeat the rinsing on both sides.  The ribbed side of the basin has gotten dirty, but the water in the other side should be cleaner. (replace water as needed in the basin) 

After rinsing stroke the brush back and forth on a white absorbent towel or paper towel.

If there is paint still in the brush it will leave color on the white towel.  If that is the case then repeat the above procedure, lather up in brush cleaner, rinse in the ribbed side of the basin, then rinse in the clean water and stroke on the towel.  Repeat until there is no color left on the white towel.  

Pay particular attention to the ferrule of the brush. Paint drying in the ferrule is the fastest way to ruin any good brush. (Ferrule is where the bristles meet the metal part)

Final Step to Preserve

The final step is to lather up the brush with the The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver and reshape the brush with your fingers.  Do not rinse out, let the cleaner dry in the brush.
(Sorry for the blur but you get the idea)

Lay brushes flat to dry.

And that is basically it. Your brushes will last you a long time using these methods.  A clean brush is a happy brush.

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Happy Painting!

Do you have any tips or tricks for keeping brushes in tip-top shape?  I would love to hear them.

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  1. I follow these sames steps with great results. I use a bar of Ivory soap instead of the cleaner. I also have a small plastic disk that is covered is with “bumps” that I hold in my hand. It would be similar to running the brush across the ribs in the basin. However, I do this at the sink so I can rinse and repeat easily.

    1. Hi Susan, I too used other soaps but found the Masters not only cleans but conditions the bristles and I got a longer life from them. I also would use dish soap, like Dawn or Joy which did a good job cleaning but they did not condition either. Some of my painter friends really like using Murphys Oil soap but I have yet to try that one.

  2. I have the same brush tub (only round) and I use warm water and a few drops of Dawn. Then when I’m done, they all go with me to the sink along with the tub. I’ve always wondered what difference that brush soap makes. I’ve had a few brushes for about 20 years (including the kids brushes with the chunky handles).

    1. What I really like about this tub is the clean water reservoir, once I clean in the soapy water I rinse in the clean water. Soap will break down the integrity of the paint while painting so I always rinse it out before my next color or strokes of paint on my project. I have looked at the round tubs, they are more compact and I think would be great for classes or paint parties as they don’t take up as much room. (if you have the ones I am thinking of) 🙂

      1. Yes, it’s just like yours only round and gray. I’ve actually been thinking of buying that one and having both on the table so I don’t have to stop what I am doing and change out my water so often.

        1. That is a great idea. I have a few of these and it nice to go longer without having to get up and change the water. But then I tell myself I NEED to get up and walk a bit as I can sit and paint for hours on end. 🙂

          1. I’m the same way, I’ll sit so long painting that it is to my detriment (health issues) It’s not kind to my body when I sit that long much less my office chair where I sit the same way the whole time, instead of like on a couch where you’re changing positions and can put your legs up. If I could rig a way to lay down on the couch and paint it would be fantastic! LOL

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