Three easy ways to clean your paint brushes.

We've all done it, let paint dry on our paint brushes and then kicked ourselves later for it. I know that some of us have even thrown those brushes away thinking that we've missed the opportunity to save it's beautiful bristles--tsk tsk. This Instructable will show you three different methods for removing paint from your brushes and save you a little money at the hardware/art store for your next painting adventure. 

Please note, that these methods will not restore your paint brushes to their original brand new condition but they will restore the paint brush to a state where you can use them again!

Paso 1: Solvents

This is method #1, and the method that most of us have heard of. It's fast and effective, if you have just used your paint brush

  • Appropriate Solvent (look at your paint and suggestions below)
  • Paper Towel or Old Rag
  • Paint Brush in Need of Cleaning
  • Old Cup, Bowl, Bucket, or Tupperware 
  • Disposable Gloves
  1. Remove as much paint as your can from your paint brush by brushing it along an old rag or paper towel. You want as little paint as possible still on your brush for a faster cleaning in the solvent. 
  2. Pour a little solvent into your vessel. I prefer to use an old tupperware or glass jar. Make sure that your paint washing vessel is clearly marked so that it doesn't end up having food put into it. Place your paint brush into your  solvent. 
  3. Begin by swirling and moving your brush back and forth in the solvent. Continue until all of the paint has been removed.
  4. Once your paint brush has been cleaned, rinse any remaining solvent off by running your paint brush under water. 
  5. Remove any remaining solvent or water on a paper towel or old rag. 
  6. Reshape your paint brush bristles and store until you're ready to paint again. Let your brush dry. 

Solvents to Consider:
  • Use water to remove water based paints.
  • Use mineral spirits or paint thinner to remove oil based paints.
  • Use denatured alcohol for shellacs.
  • Use mineral spirits for varnishes.
  • Use water if your are removing a water based glue. 
Check your paint type or at your local hardware store if you are unsure which solvent to use. It is also important to wear gloves and other protective clothing items like aprons when working with certain solvents. Again, if you are unsure, use gloves and other protective items. It is also recommended that you work with solvents in a well ventilated space. 

A Final Note: Paint Thinner is considered a hazardous waste substance. Only use it if you have to and please dispose of it properly--see your city regulations for a hazardous waste dump or their preferred disposal method for paint thinner.
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