How to Take Care of Your Paint Brushes

If you were lucky enough to get new paint brushes for Christmas, you’ll now be experiencing the pleasure of using brushes which are in tip top shape. And you may be interested in learning just how to maintain your new brushes so that they continue to maintain those ‘just bought’ qualities. Throughout the history of painting, artists have gone through the same processes of cleaning and conditioning the tools of their trade. It can be tiresome, but proper cleaning and storage of brushes will pay dividends in the end.
Take Care

Sloppy brush maintenance leads to all sorts of problems for the artist. Good brushes are not cheap, and sometimes we have a favourite brush that always seems to help us out of a fix. By treating your brushes correctly, you can extend their life for years, and save a fortune in the process.

Oil Brushes

Use white spirit or brush cleaner to rinse out oil or alkyd paints at the end of your session. Rinse and then use a specialist brush cleaner or household soap to wash the brush thoroughly. Work the soap suds gently through the bristles with your thumb and forefinger, taking care not to be too rough.

Hog brushes need careful handling, so always clean them immediately after use. Never give oil paint the chance to dry on your brushes, as it is unlikely that you will be able to retrieve it. It is possible to remove caked on oil paint from a paintbrush using paint stripper. But it is not hard to imagine why this may not leave your brush in great shape. After rinsing your brushes, do not leave them upright, standing on their bristles in a jar, for example. They must be laid flat to dry, or you will be left with curved bristles. Shape the bristles back to a point before leaving them to dry. If your brushes are past their best, click here to find a wide range of hog brushes.

Storage of brushes is important to avoid moth damage and mildew. Make sure your brushes are perfectly dry before you store them, or you could end up with mildew. Store your brushes in a waterproof box to keep them dry, and to repel moths.

Water Colour Brushes

The technique for cleaning watercolour brushes is similar to that for oil brushes. Use a lint free cloth to wipe pigment from the brushes, and then use household soap and warm water to wash them through. Pay particular attention to the base of the bristles, where paint will naturally accumulate. It is important to clean this paint out completely, as a build up of paint in the base of the brush will prevent the bristles at the top returning to a point. The clogged up paint will force the bristles apart and the brush will be ruined.

Again, ensure the brushes are perfectly dry before storing them to prevent mildew. Some artists also like to use a moth repellent to guard against moth damage. Reshape the brush to a point once you have dried off the handle and ferrule. 

The same principles apply to your acrylic brushes too. Remember, clean off immediately, wash gently, dry thoroughly and store carefully.


Image credits: FreeDigitalPhotos.netnjaj


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