How to Clean Paint Brushes
We've all been there: you go to begin a new painting project, only to find paint-chunked brushes from the last project's hasty cleanup. Regular cleaning and care for your paintbrushes will make a major difference in their functionality and lifespan. Whether you're using standard brushes or more high-quality materials, improper cleaning and storage will likely ruin your investment.
Taking a few moments to clean your brushes will prevent dried flecks of paint in the bristles and any accumulation in the ferrule (the metal piece connecting the bristles to the brush handle), which could lead to undesirable results on your next painting project.
When painting, it's a good practice to keep the paint from reaching the ferrule. Paint tends to seep between the ferrule and the bristle hairs, which can dry and contribute to splitting and fraying of the hairs. This can also make cleaning more difficult.
Avoid using cleaning solvents such as paint thinner or mineral solvents to clean your brushes. Paint thinner is a mixture of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) formulated to have low flammability and combustibility. The corrosive acids can damage bristles and eat away at the glue holding the bristles and ferrule together. Paint thinner also requires protective gear for use, because inhalation or ingestion of hydrocarbon in the solvent can be severely dangerous, and even fatal in extreme cases. Breathing airways and lungs are especially vulnerable to paint thinner poisoning.
It's also important to never rinse oil or latex paints onto the ground or into a storm drain, as the untreated water can find its way into waterways after a rain. This can harm plants and animals, and pollute your local water supply.
A safer cleaning option for both people and the environment, Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner's biodegradable* formula won't leave behind residue that can be absorbed into hands - so gloves and other protective gear aren't necessary.
Simple Green also carries the U.S. EPA Safer Choice label, ensuring that it is effective, while also safer for people and the planet.
Directions for Cleaning Paint Brushes:
- Remove excess paint. Remove any excess paint from the brush before it dries. The longer paint is allowed to dry on the brush, the harder it will become. This makes removal and cleaning much more difficult. Drag the bristles backward along the lip of the paint can to remove any excess paint, before wiping away any additional paint using old newspaper or cloths.
- Apply cleaner. Place paintbrush in a container with enough Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner's to submerge paint-affected areas. Agitate the contents to help the Simple Green penetrate deeper into the brushes. Let sit for 7-10 minutes. If paint has dried on your paintbrush, you may need to let it soak overnight for effective cleaning.
- Rinse. Give the brush a thorough rinse under the tap. Flush out any soapy water, which may take up to two minutes. Gently squeeze the bristles to further dislodge any remaining cleaner.
- Reshape bristles. Manually reshape the paintbrush bristles so that the brush keeps its original shape after drying.
- Dry. Shake your paintbrush to remove any excess water, then pat it dry with a towel or microfiber cloth. Lay flat to dry completely.
- Store properly. Store your paintbrushes in a vertical position, with the bristles pointed up to avoid any curling or bending.
* Biodegradable formula: This formula decomposes into elements found in nature within six months after disposal into a typical sanitary sewer or septic system.