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Cleaning Your Paint Brushes
- New brushes come with “sizing” in them to protect their shape. This sizing makes the brush feel stiff to the touch. Please take a moment and wash out that sizing with clean water and a tiny amount of soap. Gently wipe the brush dry.
- Some brushes come with a clear plastic tube over the bristles to protect the tips. Remove this cover and throw it away. Do not try to replace it, you may catch and damage the bristles. Then clean out any sizing.
Now you are ready to paint! Let’s talk about water media paints first. Whether it’s acrylic, watercolor, gouache etc. you will each have your own style. Most times brushes are not loaded all the way up to the ferrule (the metal edge that meets the bristles).
Yet with some techniques and some brush styles paint fully reaches the ferrule so it is extremely important to properly clean all types of brushes. When you just need to switch colors or remove a bit of paint—a gentle “swish” in water in the Kingart Brush Basin is all you need. Do not leave brushes soaking in water for any length of time. This will weaken the bristles, the glue in the ferrule and soak up into the wooden handle.
When your painting session is over for the day—take the time to clean brushes properly!
- Wipe out excess paint with a soft cloth or paper towels.
- Rinse gently in your Kingart Brush Basin filled with water and wipe again. Do this several times until most paint is removed.
- Now take your brushes to a sink and use soap and water to gently clean the brush in the palm of your hand. You can use hand soap but to ensure an excellently cleaned brush try: Speedball’s Pink Soap, The Masters Brush Cleaner, and Bristle Magic by Magic Bristle or check out others.
- Depending on how much paint you had in the brush, you may need to rinse and soap more than once. Be sure you are cleaning up by the ferrule. Tip: If you are using white bristle brushes, don’t expect them to be perfectly white again—especially if you are painting with a staining color such as Prussian Blue!! The brush will be just fine and in good shape—just not pristine white.
- Rinse with clean water, wipe with cloth or paper towels, reshape the brush and DRY FLAT. Drying brush in a vertical position with bristles pointed downward will damage the bristle tips. Drying the brush in a vertical position with the bristles up allows the moisture to run down into the ferrule and handle ultimately damaging the brush.
- Once brushes are completely dry, you can stand them up in a mug or jar or in your brush caddy. Now your brushes are ready to work for you again!
Let’s go through some steps to clean brushes used with oil paints.
- Again, as with water media painting, different styles and techniques make a difference in how much paint is in the brush.
- Instead of water as a first step to cleaning you will want to use a safe product like Gamsol which is odorless mineral spirits and nonabsorbent to the skin. This is very important to your health. Products like turpentine are damaging to your body not only as you breathe in the fumes but through contact with the skin as well.
- Your chosen cleaner can be placed in a jar (size depending on your brush sizes) with lid.
- Clean your brushes in your chosen product and wipe with a cloth or paper towels. Do this until very little paint comes off on the cloth.
- Now you can switch to soap and water used as with water media brushes above.
- Same suggestions apply as to reshaping brush when clean and drying FLAT.
CHECK OUT THE INFORMATION ON MAINTAINING YOUR BRUSHES FOR MORE TIPS AND WAYS TO REJUVENATE A BRUSH WITH DRIED PAINT!
Blog editor: Mary McCullah
Mary works from her own photo references painting primarily in acrylic and watercolor. She has been painting for over 40 years dedicating over 25 years to teaching and designing educational material. Having lived across the country, Mary and her husband now reside in North Augusta, SC where she divides her art time with her horse time! Want to know more about Mary: www.marymccullah.pixels.com.