>I seem to be going through an awful lot of brushes, no matter how
>careful I try to be when cleaning them. I use water-based acrylics for
>fine painting, and some oil, for my crafts, and every other sort of
>household paint for DIY.
>Are there any alternatives to the chemical cleaners, such as brush
>restorers? Also, what is the best way to actually handle the bristles
>Does anyone have any tips, please? TIA.
I have done a little scenic painting, so I've learned a bit about making paint
brushes last a very long time. (We theatre people learn early on to make what
we have last as long as possible.)
The best thing to use to clean paint brushes is Murphy's Oil Soap. It
conditions the bristles and cleans very gently. Another good alternative is a
very gentle dishwashing liquid like Ivory or Palmolive.
When you paint, be sure to dip your brush no more than half way up the
bristles. Some paint may work its way up to the ferrule (the metal band that
holds the bristles on the handle) when you apply paint to your surface, but
allowing too much to get in causes the glue to become unstable, and the
bristles will fall out.
When I clean a brush, I rinse as much excess paint out of my brushes as
possible. I then put a few drops of liquid soap in the palm of my hand and
swirl the ends of the bristles in the soap (kind of like a technique stencil
painters use). I don't remember anyone teaching me to do this; it just seemed
like the easiest way to get my brushes clean (I was once complimented on my
brush cleaning techinque by an accomplished scenic artist). An added benefit
of this technique is that your hands come clean at the same time!
To dry your brushes, don't stand them upside down in a cup. Water will collect
inside the ferrule and could cause it to crack, rust or loosen (I nearly lost a
$30 brush this way once -- the manufacturer or supplier was nice and replaced
it free of charge). Instead, dry brushes lying flat on paper towels before
storing them, or store them flat, wrapped in paper towels. I store my brushes
in a tall tin, handle down, so I just leave them out for a couple days to make
sure they're dry before putting them away.
I like to stand my brushes in water while I'm working to make them easier to
clean. Some painters say not to do this because the bristles can become
distorted over time, but if I'm distracted from a project I don't have to worry
about the paint drying on my brushes. I have left a brush standing in water
for a week or more without distortion of the bristles, so I guess it depends on
Be careful not to mix your cleaning supplies between media. I don't use oils
very often, but I've seen what turpentine can do to a brush used for
Because of my background and the money I have invested in them, I'm very
meticulous about cleaning my brushes. I'll spend 15-20 minutes cleaning a
brush that I've only used for a five-minute touch-up! A good brush can last
forever; even the cheap, throw-away type can last a very long time if cared for