You just bought a brand new, beautiful, clean brush and a smile instantly stretches across your face. What a great moment! Unfortunately, this beautiful brush has very little chance of keeping its shape for long and its survival is in danger.
However, with regular maintenance and proper use, it could stay “like new” long enough. Artists have tricks to keep their brushes in excellent condition for a very long time. I’ll give you some of them in this article. Keep reading!
First of all, what NOT to do
I will talk about what to do in order to properly care for your painting brushes in a moment, but first I want to make sure we’re talking a bit about what NOT to do. What are the absolute no-no‘s when it comes to caring for your brushes.
1. Do NOT let the paint dry on the brush
It is always easier to clean the paint when it is still wet. Once dry, it is almost impossible to remove it completely.
To avoid any risk of the paint drying out on the brush, clean it as soon as you are finished. Paint left on the brush will make the bristles stiffer and the bristles will lose their shape.
When using acrylic paint, moisten the bristles with water, but don’t let the brushes soak in water for too long. Oil paint is slower to dry, so you don’t need to soak the brushes in thinner during the painting session, but you should clean them properly when you’re done.
If the oil paint dries on the brush, try soaking the bristles in a good degreaser for a few minutes and then rub them on the palm of your hand, adding soap as needed.
2. Do NOT let the brushes soak for a long time
The brush is composed of different elements, assembled together, either with glue or with a crimp. Too much humidity added to the weight of the brush pressed on its bristles could lead to a strong deformation of the bristles.
The liquid can also penetrate under the ferrule, soak and soften the glue, which can eventually loosen the ferrule from the handle.
The liquid can also cause the wooden handle to swell, which, if it expands, will loosen the crimp and cause the ferrule to separate from the handle.
Swelling of the handle will cause the varnish to come off and fall into the paint, causing discomfort and dissatisfaction during the painting process.
How To Clean Your Paint Brushes
Step 1: When you have finished painting with a particular brush, you should clean it immediately to prevent the paint from drying on the bristles. Follow this simple procedure to clean brushes and you’ll keep your brushes clean for the next time you want to paint.
Rinse them first in thinner for oil paint or in water for acrylic paint.
Then rinse your brush under warm running water. Using your fingers, gently and quickly squeeze the bristles to further dislodge any leftover paint.
Step 2: Use special artist’s soap or ordinary soap for handwashing, or dishwashing soap, or even better, Marseille soap.
Put soap on your brush and gently wash the bristles with your fingers, passing the soap between the bristles. Rinse, check to see if there is any paint remaining and if so, repeat the same steps until the brush is thoroughly clean.
Once you are sure all the paint has been removed, shake the brush to remove excess water. Blot the bristles with a paper towel or cloth, simply squeezing but never rubbing, and squeeze out the excess water.
Let your brush dry, preferably horizontally.
Some tips from brush and paint manufacturers
- If the brushes have lost their shape, you can soak them in boiling water for a few seconds and they will remodel.
- Soaking your brushes regularly in a fabric softener will help make the bristles softer and more supple, preventing them from becoming brittle.
- Soak brushes soiled with oil paint for 5-10 minutes in baby oil. Then wash them well with mild soap and warm water.
- Thoroughly clean the part of the bristles near the ferrule. This is often the most difficult area to clean, but it is just as important to maintain the shape of the brush tip.
- After cleaning with soap and water, finish with olive oil. It’s amazing how much oil paint you’ll still get out of a brush you thought was clean! And what’s more, olive oil keeps the bristles softer!
- Take a glass cup and fill it with white vinegar. Heat it in the microwave for 1 to 1.5 minutes, then dip your hardened brushes into it. Then wash them with soap and rinse them with warm water.
When I first started painting, I used cheap brushes and I confess I didn’t take good care of them. I thought I was saving money, but I had to buy new ones very often because they deteriorated very quickly.
Today, I don’t buy many brushes, I pay quite a bit for them, but they last for years because I take good care of them. They are always clean, ready to be used, the bristles keep their original shape and thanks to all this, I save money and I paint with much more pleasure and comfort.