How to Clean Your Paintbrush or Roller - Complete Guide

Jun 15 2022 0 Comments

You’ve just finished painting for the day and are excited to reward your hard work with a hot meal and cold VB or Tooheys. But wait – there is still an important task at hand. You need to clean your paint brush! What many people feel to be a labor-intensive process really doesn’t have to be. In fact, this process can be a breeze with this handy guide on how to clean your paintbrush.

clean paintbrush

How To Clean Your Paint Brush

Be sure to use up the remainder of the paint that is currently on your brush. This will make the cleaning process much easier as well as ensuring that you get as much value as possible out of your paint. Pressing the bristles against the inside edge of the paint can and lifting up can help deposit excess paint back into the can.

Once this is done, you are ready to start the cleaning process. You may be tempted to wait and clean paintbrushes at a later time. Do not fall for this bit of procrastination. Paintbrushes that have set for even a short period of time become much more difficult to clean. You will be happy that you took care of this chore the right away. 

The next step in the process largely depends on what type of paint you are using. As you likely know, there are two primary types of paint – oil-based and water-based (often called latex). If you are using oil-based paint, you will need to use turpentine to clean your paintbrush. However, if you have water-based paint, all you need is some hot water and perhaps a bit of dish soap. 

Once you’ve determined whether you need turpentine or hot water to clean your paintbrush, the next step is to completely submerge your brush in the respective solvent. Spent about 15 seconds stirring the solvent with the brush while using your fingers to remove extra paint from the bristles. If paint has begun to dry, you may need to soak the brush for a bit. However, if you are cleaning it right away, this can probably be avoided. Keep working the brush with your fingers until all the paint is removed.

Once you have completely removed the paint from the brush, you’ll want to wash it in the sink with some warm water and soap. This will clean any remaining paint from the brush and – if you used oil-based paint – clean the turpentine off the brush. Before finishing the process, you will want to dry your brushes. The easiest way to do this is to shake out the water into the sink and then use a cloth to blot the brushes.

If you are cleaning brushes with turpentine, you will also want to reclaim turpentine for future use. Once done with the cleaning process, allow the paint particles to settle at the bottom of the container. Pour the clean turpentine into a container for reuse. Then let the remaining dirty solvent evaporate before throwing away the container.

Once you have cleaned your paintbrush, you will want to store it by either hanging it on a pegboard or laying it flat. This will help to make sure that the bristles maintain their intended shape so that the brush can have as long of a lifespan possible. After this, you’re done! Congratulations – you’ve just learned how to clean your paintbrush!


Does the Size of the Paint Brush Matter?

One question that some people ask is whether the size of the paintbrush matters when it comes to the cleaning process. After all, depending on what you’re painting, you may be using a very small paintbrush or a large one.

 In reality, the steps of the process are the same for any size of paintbrush. However, the major difference lies in the amount of time that it takes. After all, a big paintbrush has far more bristles than a small one and will take more time to clean. 


How To Clean Your Paint Roller

While you know how to clean your paintbrush, you may be doing a large project and using a roller as well. Is the process for how to clean your paint roller the same? As it turns out, the basic concepts are similar; however, you will do a few things differently. Let’s take a look at the steps.

Again, the first thing you want to do is remove excess paint from your roller. However, it is difficult to scrape your roller on the paint can. A useful tool to help with this is a simple putty knife. You can use this while holding the roller over the paint can in order to scrape excess paint back into the can. Use long, firm strokes but make sure you aren’t scraping too hard, or you’ll knock dried off paint into the can.

While this will get a lot of excess paint off your roller, there is still a bit of work to do. Find a thinner portion of the wall and use the roller until it stops releasing paint. This ensures that the roller is completely ready for cleaning.

You’ve once again reached the point where you must choose how to proceed. If you are using oil-based paint, you’ll choose turpentine for the cleaning process. For water-based paint, hot water and a bit of dish soap will do the trick. Put your solvent (whether it be turpentine or water) in a container that is small but will hold the roller. Submerge the roller and use your fingers to work the paint out of it. This may take a bit longer than the paintbrushes. You’ll get more efficient with practice.


Final Thoughts

You’ve now learned how to clean your paintbrush and paint roller, an important skill for keeping these things in good condition for multiple uses. Again, remember to do this as soon as possible once you are done painting to minimise the stress and to make sure you are using the right solvent based on whether you use oil-based or water-based paint. Happy painting!

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