How to clean paintbrushes — water-based paint

Keeping your tools in trim.

A workman’s tools show the pride they take in the job that they do. Cleaning of paintbrushes correctly is essential as this leaves them fresh and ready for the next job, without the added hazard of left over paint. A brush which is incorrectly cleaned will not last as long, and will certainly not give the best finish to work which depends upon the smoothness of the bristles, and the cleanliness of the brush. Every part of a brush can be cleaned, when the paint being used is water based. The ideal time to clean brushes is straight after the work has been performed, as this means that none of the paint has dried, and that water will help to dissolve it to achieve better results.


Step 1

Work neatly.

If you work neatly, having a cloth at your disposal, you can avoid the hazard of paint being left to dry on the handle during the course of the work process. If you accidentally get paint all over the handle, get into a habit of wiping this clean during the course of your work. This helps the paintbrush to retain clean appearance.

Step 2

Wipe off excess paint while working.

When painting surfaces at an angle, what happens is that the paint flows into the stock of the brush. This is hard to remove. Make sure that during the painting process, you wipe the brush on the edge of the paintpot regularly to remove excess paint.

Step 3

Cleaning procedure.

When cleaning paintbrushes avoid putting soiled water into the main drains of the house. Fill a bucket with warm soapy water and work on the cleaning process outdoors. An outdoor tap is ideal for the rinsing process, though mild detergent in the first warm wash helps to loosen up the paint. Dip the brush into the warm soapy water, and with an up and down movement against the base of the bucket, the paint will start to disperse.

Step 4

First rinse.

Throw away the water. Add water from the tap and go through the same process without soap. Look to see if there is still paint coming from the brush. If there is, subsequent rinses will be necessary. If paint is stuck in the stock of the brush, hold the brush bristles up to the tap, and run water into the bristles, moving these gently apart with your hands.

Step 5

Stock and handle area.

Scrub these areas clean. You can use a sponge with a scotch surface to clean the handle and stock metal area of a brush. Rinse.

Step 6

Final rinse.

Fill the bucket with water from the tap, and using the same motion as before put the brush up and down until there is no more paint in the brush. The final rinse should contain no paint, and the paintbrush should look clean.

Step 7


Hold the handle of the paint brush and use a flicking motion away from yourself to disperse any additional water left in the bristles. Then make sure that you paintbrush is dried naturally by laying it on something which allows the bristle area to be free from obstruction. The bristles on the brush should be straight and this is important. Wait until the brush is dry before putting it away. Air dried, a paintbrush doesn’t take that long to dry, and can then be stored until the next use.

Things Needed
• Warm water.
• Bucket or bowl.
• Mild detergent.
• Supply of clean water.

Tips & Warnings
• Always respect your brushes by allowing them to dry in a straight position.
• Wipe your brush as you work.
• Do not allow the stock of the brush to build up too much paint.


Add a comment



Text commentary: