The Right Way to Clean your Paint Brush before your next DIY Project

Often overlooked, cleaning your paintbrush is crucial in the painting process. It doesn’t matter if you have the most expensive brush in the game; neglecting to clean it will ultimately damage the brush bristles, which will affect the quality of the paint job. If you want them to last longer and work better, you’ll need to clean them after every use. But then again, not just any cleaning will suffice. There is a right way to do it to yield the best results.

With years of experience working with paintbrushes, we’ve compiled a few steps that have proven most effective in cleaning a paintbrush.

Two paintbrushes are soaking in jars of water and are coloring the water white and blue

Materials you need

  •         Paint thinner
  •         Household ammonia
  •         Denatured alcohol
  •         Newspaper
  •         Paintbrush comb
  •         Rags
  •         Jar
  •         Wire brush

Step 1

Before we delve into it, it is worth noting that cleaning should be done immediately after using the brush. If you let the paint dry, it can make it a lot harder to remove it.

Now the first step is to remove as much paint as you can from the brush. You can do this by pressing the brush against the inside of the can of paint, or its rim. Once done, you can paint away what remains of the paint on a newspaper. This should make the cleaning process significantly easier. (alternatively, you can wipe off the paint using a soft tissue or cloth).

Step 2

Next up, dip the brush in some soapy water and comb through the bristles with a brush comb. This should get rid of a fair amount of the paint. If the paint has dried up in the brush bristles, you can soak the brush in some paint thinner and then wash it off with the soapy water. Note that soaking the brush for too long can damage the bristles, so you only want to do it for a few minutes.

Step 3

Rinse the brush once in a pail of some clean water. This will remove any paint that may have remained in the brush. Feel free you use your hands to work the bristles. You can also spin the brush in the water a couple of times, then rinse it once more in a different pail of clean water.

Step 4

Before storing your paintbrush or brushes, you want to ensure that the bristles are dry. You can do this by spinning or shaking the paintbrush. In most cases, this would free the brush off most of the water. You can then later use a newspaper or rag to dry it further.

Step 5

Leave your brush lying flat on a surface or hang it somewhere. This step will ensure that the brush bristles don’t tangle up and bend out of shape. Alternatively, you can wrap the bristles using heavy paper and then loosely tie it with a string to retain the brush’s shape.


Good paintbrushes do not come cheap. By cleaning them, you ensure that they retain their quality. And if you are a regular DIY painter, it will save you a ton of money in the long run. Also important is that you do the cleaning in a well-ventilated area, especially if you are using solvents like paint thinners or alcohol.

For this and any other information about paint, feel free to contact us at Painter Bros and speak to one of our agents.