Keeping your paint brushes clean and pliable from one DIY paint project to the next can seem like an impossible task. Even latex paint, which cleans up with water, seems to stiffen brushes, even after a thorough cleaning.
But, with a little effort and the right techniques, you can keep your brushes in top shape for a long time, and do what you can to protect the environment.
1. Remove as Much Paint as Possible from the Brush
As you finish painting, get as much paint as possible onto the surface you are painting. Rub the brush across the lip of the paint can or tray to get rid of any remaining paint.
2. Oil-Based Paints Require a Thinner
Ask at your hardware or paint store for less toxic thinners that use more eco-friendly ingredients like citrus-based solvents.
3. Use Water to Remove Latex Paint
But don’t use only water. Add a little dish soap to a bucket of water. Don’t just run the tap water over the brush because that wastes a huge amount of water. Fill the bucket with water and soap and clean the brush in the mixture.
4. Comb the Brush
Use a paint brush comb to remove paint between all the bristles while the brush is still in the water.
5. Rinse and Dry
Rinse the brush with clean water in another bucket or container. Shake, tap and/or towel the brush to get rid of as much moisture from the bristles as possible. Hang the brush from a hook to let it finish drying.
Perhaps the Most Important Tip
You don’t have to clean brushes every time you stop painting. If you plan to continue using the brush later with the same paint, you can warp the brush in plastic for up to a day. If you want to store the brush without cleaning for longer, wrap it in plastic and keep it in a freezer for up to two weeks.