Cleaning Paint Brushes

Cleaning paint brushes is sometimes not enough to keep them at their peak performance. In a previous post, How to Clean Paint Brushes, I mentioned that the best way to care for your paint brushes was to keep them clean. I always wash my brushes thoroughly when I’m finished with a painting session for the day.

However, with even the most diligent regular cleaning, an artist brush used for acrylic painting will eventually accumulate small amounts of dried paint down in the bristles at the ferrule. So what is the solution?

Acrylic paint is a form of plastic which does not dilute in normal paint thinners like mineral spirits or turpentine. There is however, a common chemical that is readily available that will remove dried acrylic paint from your artists brushes.

The chemical I’m talking about is called acetone. Acetone can be purchased from any hardware store in quart cans and is used in the automotive paint industry as the base for lacquer thinner. Ladies, it’s also the main ingredient in your fingernail polish remover.

Here are the steps to cleaning paint brushes with acetone;

  1. Always wear protective glasses to protect your eyes.
  2. Wear protective gloves to keep acetone off your skin.
  3. Work in a well ventilated space and avoid breathing the vapors.
  4. Keep away from any flames.
  5. Place just enough acetone in a small metal or glass container to submerge the bristles of the brush. Do not use plastic containers! They will melt.
  6. Place the bristles of the brush into the acetone and carefully scrub the brush against the bottom of the container until paint stops coming from the brush.
  7. When the brush is clean, rinse the brush under luke warm water to remove the acetone.
  8. Wash the brush using a mild shampoo to restore the luster to the bristles.
  9. Squeeze the majority of the water from the bristles with your fingers to reshape the brush.
  10. Lay it on a flat surface to dry.

Using the steps above, cleaning paint brushes is quick and easy. If you have a brush that you forgot to wash, stand it in the acetone and leave it for a couple of hours. The acetone will melt the dried paint and allow you to clean the brush. One word of warning, do not let the acetone get on the painted handle of the brush. It will strip the paint off the handle.

Until next time, keep your brushes clean, your colors pure, and as always, thanks for stopping by the North Forty.



Thank you.

This entry was posted in Artist Brushes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>