June 15, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros

Clean a Paintbrush Like the Pros

Clean A Paintbrush Like The Pros

After a long day of work it’s never convenient to maintain our tools, but it must be done. We have to take care of the tools that take care of us. It’s ultimately cheaper, and the results are better. A power tool might be able to go on for awhile without proper lubrication, but the Pros know they can’t neglect a paintbrush even for one day. Good paintbrushes can cost $30 or more, so they must be meticulously cared for to ensure good cut-in lines, better coverage, and general longevity. We’ve written about quick clean-up painting tips, reviewed some great paint sprayers, and now here’s how to clean a paintbrush like the Pros.

Prime Time

1. Prime Brushes Before Use
Some Pros like to “prime” the paintbrushes before they touch paint for the day. Dip brushes in water for water-based paints and dip in mineral spirits for oil-based paints. Squeeze out any excess water or mineral spirits. Incidentally, this also works for helping paint adhere more quickly to new rollers.

2. Consider Mid-Day Cleaning
If it will be a long day of painting, consider doing a quick cleaning of the brush during the day. Paint can begin to dry halfway up the brush where it’s been dipped in the paint but not wiped onto the painting surface. Put the paintbrush in water (warm if possible), and use a wire brush or paintbrush comb to clean.

Clean A Paintbrush Like The Pros
Rinse and repeat.

3. Wipe Off Excess Paint at Day’s End
Before cleaning, use some scrap material or a rag to wipe off paint from the bristles, ferrule, and handle. Also remember that rags with mineral spirits or paint thinner that are improperly stored are a fire hazard.

4. Use Soapy, Warm Water to Clean Water-based Paints
Gently swish the water through the bristles but don’t bend or manipulate them too much. Make sure water reaches into the heel of the brush. It’s important to always keeps the bristles down or flat so that paint doesn’t get into the heel in the first place.

Clean A Paintbrush Like the Pros Continued

5. Use a Wire Brush or Paintbrush Comb
Gently comb from the heel toward the toe (end of the bristles). Doing this under running water with water-based paints is especially effective.

6. Consider Using a Paintbrush Spinner
Some Pros use a spinner to remove the remaining paint in addition to or in lieu of the paintbrush comb. Centrifugal force cleans out stubborn paint.

7. Store Paintbrushes so the Bristles Lay Flat
The way that the bristles dry will be the way that you find them the next day. You don’t want the brush’s integrity compromised after all the care in the previous steps. One of there worst things you can do to a nice paint brush is stand it up to dry.

We hope this gave you some tips on how to clean a paintbrush like the Pros. We probably didn’t cover everything—that’s the nature of learning. If you’re a Pro and you have paintbrush cleaning tips, add them in the comments below—or contact us with your own Pro tips.

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Jerry Albert

Liquid fabric softener helps to clean brushes used for water-based paints.

Brad Rhoades

All tips I currently use

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