How to clean oil based paint from paintbrushes

Getting the paint out

When you are painting the exterior of your home, chances are you are going to be using an oil based paint. Oil based paints are a better choice when the item being painted will be exposed to the elements. The same things that make oil based paint a long lasting choice also make it a challenge to remove from your paint brushes.

Good paint brushes can be very expensive. They need to be cleaned well and quickly to guarantee that they will be usable again.


Step 1

Get a small empty jar with a lid. Remove the lid and fill the jar half full with paint thinner or mineral spirits, whatever the paint manufacturer recommends. The jar needs to be big enough to dip the paint brush into it.

Step 2

Once you have finished painting, remove as much excess paint from the brush as possible. Scrape the paint brush along the top of the paint can to let any excess fall back into the can. Use a piece of paper towel or a clean rag and press the bristles as firmly as possible to absorb as much paint from the brush as possible.

Step 3

Start to clean the brushes immediately, don’t allow the paint to dry. Take the brush and dip it into the jar with the mineral spirits or paint thinner. Make sure that the thinner gets into all the bristles. Dip it in several times. Take the brush to a sink and spin it to remove the excess thinner. If the brush is still not totally clean repeat the process with clean thinner or mineral spirits. You can put the used cleaner into a container, label it and store in a cool place.

Step 4

If the paint seems to be stuck deep down in the bristles of the paint brush you may need to use a paint comb to get deep into the bristles and remove the excess paint. It is important to remove all the paint because if it stays in the brush it will harden and cause the brush to deteriorate. The comb can also help you to reshape the brush. Be sure to lay the brush flat to dry so that you don’t damage the bristles. You want to protect your investment and be able to reuse your brushes.

Things Needed
• Container
• Mineral spirits
• Paint thinner
• Brush comb

Tips & Warnings
• Never soak your paint brush in the solution, just dip.


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