artist paint brush careArtist quality paint brushes can be really expensive. It is very important to know how to take care of them so that they last as long as possible.

Caring for and cleaning brushes does take some time at the end of each painting session, but the effort will be worth it.

How do artists make their brushes last longer, and thereby save money on art supplies?

Please read on for a few tips for cleaning and caring for artist paint brushes.


How to Clean Artist Paint Brushes


  1. Use a cloth or rag to wipe paint from the bristles. With the brush in one hand and the rag in the other, gently wipe upward toward the tip of the bristles. Don’t apply too much pressure! This may cause the loss of bristles.

  2. Rinse the brush. If you are using oil paint, rinse it in turpentine or odorless mineral spirits. For acrylic, watercolor, or other water based mediums, rinse the brush in warm water. Fine brushes should be rinsed in cold water. Then wipe the paint brush once more with a clean rag, and ensure all paint is removed.

  3. Master Sable Set The brush is not completely clean yet. The next step is to clean with a mild soap. In a sink, pour a little liquid soap in your hand or container and dab the brush in it. Gently squeeze the bristles with your fingers, and rub it with the grain. Then rinse the brush in warm running water. Return to dabbing the brush in the liquid soap, and repeat the process until the brush is completely free of paint. The brush will be clean when the soap does not change color when rubbed into the paint brush bristles.

    If you are worried about the toxicity of oil paint, use rubber gloves! 

    Master Sable Set

  4. Create your own Website! Shape the bristles with your fingers and try to form them the way they were originally.

    Leave it to air dry at room temperature, making sure the bristles are not in contact with any surface.

    Do not place the drying brush near a heat source or sunlight. Maybe place the brush in a jar, with handle down.


Caring for Artist Paint Brushes Tips


  1. Never use the same brushes for oil paint and acrylic or other water based paints.

  2. Never use painting brushes for mixing paint. Use palette knives for this purpose.

  3. Never leave brushes for acrylic paint unattended for long, as it dries very fast. If you do not have time to clean it right away, place it in a jar of water.

  4. Canvas Brush Organizer Do not leave the brush in water or solvent for long, as the handle will crack or the ferrule will expand, and the brush may lose bristles.

  5. If the bristles are spread apart, reshape the brush by leaving it in hot water for awhile. Wipe the brush with a clean cloth and shape it with your fingers.

  6. If your painting surface is rough, do not press too hard while painting. This will cause the bristles to wear away, making them shorter.

  7. Scrubbing the painting with the brush will cause the bristles to spread apart, and maybe ruin the brush. Use old or cheap brushes for this purpose.

    Canvas Brush Organizer

  8. Get a brush holder or organizer (like the one above) for storage and care of brushes.


What tips do you have to share concerning cleaning and caring for artist paint brushes?

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  1. I am so hard on brushes. I can keep them clean, that's not the issue. It's the 'scumbling' that wrecks my brushes...wears them down to a stubby shadow of their former selves. But that is just an occupational hazard when painting large murals in a rather fast, aggressive technique. I'm afraid my brushes have to bear the brunt of my physicality and sometimes it is not pretty. On the other hand, I still own and operate certain brushes that have been in my possession for over 30 years. But they are the more delicate ones that I might only use for 'finishing touches'. So you see, it's not me, it's just the way it goes. :)

  2. @Michael Gaudet
    I can relate with being hard on brushes.. the way I paint sometimes requires lots of subtle blending, which causes my brushes to wear down fast. I actually use cheap brushes for that purpose... REALLY cheap brushes.. they're horrible brushes and don't last long anyway... I use my fine brushes for detailed work and finishing touches.

  3. If you use acrylic paints and have stiff brushes from dried paint that you can't get cleaned, dip them in a jar with Murphy's Oil over night. The MO will loosen the dried paint and soften the brushes so they're usable again.


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