HOW TO: Clean Your Brushes The Right Way!

Beyond the Water

Every synthetic paint brush develops a certain degree of undetectable paint build-up in, around and below the ferrule, the heel and the filaments. Dried paint near the ferrule is the number one reason why paint brushes lose their shape and become difficult to cut with. Dried undetectable paint on the filaments  will reduce the responsiveness of the brush too.

Paint build-up typically occurs when the brush is laid on its side to dry. Its best to hang brushes after a cleaning to allow any remaining dirty water to drain from the ferrule. Using water alone does not provide the best cleaning for a brush with today’s acrylic paints, some may require lacquer thinner. Here are some tips for keeping the filaments in their best shape. Always pre-wet your brushes with water before painting, this will help with clean up later.


  1. Starting with a first rinse with water, release as much paint as you can and then change the water.
  2. Second Rinse. Use a paint strainer rather than a wire brush on synthetic brushes to remove dried paint on the filaments and continue to rinse until it appears clean.
  3. Place brush in a mixture of water and Krud Kutter. A 60w/40kk mix is sufficient for regular cleaning immediately after painting. Be sure to rinse thoroughly or your brush may harden a bit when its dry and you’ll need to rinse again.
  4. Hang brush to dry


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3 Responses
  • Normy Reply

    I’m just as anal about my brushes being in tip top shape. Until now, I’ve only used water thinking that when the water coming out of the brush is clear, the paint is gone. But, it doesn’t take very long before there is a half an inch of hard paint build up just above the ferrel. It’s nice to have someone in the trade who thinks “outside the box”(or in our case, can) share their ideas with the competition. The krudd kutter mixture will keep my brushes revived and alive. This question should probably be on another post but I’ll fire away anyhow. How do you clean your roller covers before soaking them in a bucket of water? Roller wizard, sink, hose? Just wondered.

  • Mike Reply

    Buy a new sleeve time is money.

  • Tim Reply

    I use Pink Soap from Michael’s art supply store to clean my brushes. krud cutter works pretty well but to be honest, I found that this pink soap stuff suds up better and is the best product for that kind of use. I also read once you can use regular shampoo, and a few drops of conditioner combed through after you spin the brush of excess water. in addition to hanging to dry I like to wrap brushes in brown paper to hold shape.

    I am excited to try the strainer idea vs a wire brush for cleaning.
    Roller Cover cleaning:
    To save $ if it’s if it’s a DIY, or just inconvenient to get back to a store(like when I was in Australia for awhile, deep in the bush) take roller outside and spin it off w a high pressure hose. Just get ready for a mess! You can also reclaim up to a cup of paint from a used roller cover. Use your five way tool; it has a half moon cutout to do this.

    To save for future use/second day or longer, wrap extremely well with plastic film, tape all edges and store in fridge or basement, wrapped in a towel, I’ve done this and come back two years later to a perfectly good roller. Love this blog! Thanks for your ideas and hacks!

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