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Cleaning Paint Bushes

Cleaning Oil Paint Brushes

Learning how to properly clean brushed with oil paint can save you money and improve the longevity of the brush and the quality of your paint project.

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. It only takes one slip-up of waiting too long, or not prepping your brushes for cleaning to lose a brush to hardened paint. ,

Choosing The Correct Brush

In order to clean a paint brush from oil paint, it first must be the correct bristle type to clean. I suggest using a high-quality china bristle or Ox hairbrush designed for use with oil paints.

What You Will Need

Steps To Clean An Oil Brush

If you follow these processes on how to clean oil paint brushes, then your brushes will have a long life span and provide good quality brush strokes.

Wrap In Paper To Soak

One of the first things I do when done using a brush is to wrap it in newspaper and set it in a quart container of paint thinner, to soak. Ensure you fill the container to cover the brush ferrules and let the thinner do its job.


After a day of soaking, I set up two more Quart buckets of paint thinner and start the manual cleaning process.

Wire Brush the Bristles

I unwrap the brush and re-dip it into the container it was soaking in. I then place the brush down on a rag [or end of a trash barrel] and using the wire brush, stroke the China bristles from the ferrule to the brush tips.

Rinse and Repeat

I repeat this dip and wire brush process 2-3 times in each Quart bucket. As I progress the brush gets continually cleaner and cleaner, and I finish by spinning the brush.

Spin The Brush Bristles

After spinning the brush, I store the brush back in its cardboard wrapping that I bought it in or wrap it in the news newspaper, securing it in place with a rubber band.

Cleaning Oil Brushes– 12 Steps

  1. Unwrap brush
  2. Dip brush into container 1
  3. Wire brush from ferrule to tips
  4. Repeat 1x
  5. Dip brush into container 2
  6. Wire brush from ferrule to tips
  7. Repeat 1x
  8. Dip brush into container 3
  9. Wire brush from ferrule to tips
  10. Repeat 1x
  11. Spin brush till dry
  12. Store in an original cardboard wrapper

Re-Cycle Paint Thinner

Once done cleaning recycle the paint thinner back into its container. I keep two containers. One with fresh paint thinner and one with recycled thinner. The paint in the used thinner will eventually settle to the bottom of the container allowing it to be reused indefinitely.

The next time I clean an oil brush I use this thinner for my Quart container 1 and 2, reserving Quart container 3 for fresh thinner.






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