Painting 101: How to Clean Paint Brushes

In four simple steps.

Painting 101: How to Clean Paint Brushes
A good paint brush should be an investment; trust us, it’s worth a little bit of extra money to get a brush with quality bristles from a brand you trust. When painting a room you certainly don’t want to use a flimsy little craft paint brush, or even the tempting dollar options at the hardware store. With the right maintenance and cleaning techniques, quality brushes will last you several paint projects. Not only do they add a pro-level finish to your paint job, but they also help reduce single-use supply waste. Ahead, we’re breaking down how to clean paint brushes thoroughly and easily:

Note: How you clean your paint brushes depends on what they’re made of and what type of paint you use. Here, we’re talking about poly/nylon blend brushes — what we recommend and offer at Clare — that are versatile and easy to clean. They hold tons of paint and minimize brush marks, giving you control and allow you to cut in around trim with precision.

What you'll need:

  • Water
  • Mild soap or dish liquid (pro painters like Dawn)
  • Brush comb
  • Soft cloth
  • Mason jar (optional)

How to Clean Paint Brushes


Don’t let the paint dry onto your brush bristles; clean your paint brushes right after you’re done using them. If you can’t get to the brush right away, leave it upright in a mason jar filled with enough water to cover the bristles only. Soaking the ferrule (aka the metal part) and the handle could cause rusting or warping over time.


Using your hands, place the brush under running water and work the soap into the bristles. You may need to repeat this process several times, or until the water runs clear. If there’s semi-dry paint stuck toward the top of the bristles, use a brush comb (combing from the base to the tip) to remove it.


Rinse your brush under a faucet with the bristles facing downward. This positioning will keep paint from clogging the ferrule and potentially warping the handle.


To dry your paint brush, use your hands to work out excess water and then pat dry using a soft cloth. Hang to finish drying using the hole at the top of the paint brush. Once it’s completely dry, put the brush jacket back around the bristles — it helps the brush keep its shape! Store until you’re ready to use again.

Related: Now that you know how to clean paint brushes, it’s time to brush up on more painting 101! Read How to Touch Up Paint The Right Way.


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