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Tips for Cleaning Acrylic Paint Brushes

Updated on March 26, 2017
Robie Benve profile image

Robie:an artist believing in the power of positive thinking, she paints images intended to bring joy the viewer and loves to share art tips.

Tips for Cleaning Acrylic Paint Brushes
Tips for Cleaning Acrylic Paint Brushes | Source

Don't Let Acrylic Paint Dry on Brushes

Acrylic paint is easily washable with soap and water while wet, but it becomes extremely difficult to remove once dry, and it can definitely ruin paintbrushes if allowed to dry on the bristles.

It’s important to remove any acrylic paint from your paintbrushes to keep your artist tools fresh – and your creations beautiful. Read below how to promptly removeall paint from your brushes, ste-by-step.

Thorough cleaning habits will help extend the life of your brushes, and in the end, save you a lot of money in supplies.

Keep Your Paintbrushes Moist

Throughout your acrylic painting session, make sure your brushes stay wet, so that no residue of paint dries on them.

Remove excess paint and rinse brushes thoroughly when you change color paint or you switch to another brush, and lay the wet brush flat.

Do not keep your brushes soaked in water, because this can damage the handle and lose the ferrule. Also, in general, you should never leave a brush standing on its hair for a long time, in water as during storage, because it can bend and lose the bristles shape.

How to Clean Acrylic Paint Off Brushes

At the end of a painting session, don't forget to clean your brushes right away.

Start by getting most of the paint off your brush with a paper towel. Squeeze off most of the paint, rub the brush on the paper to get as much pigment as you can off the bristles. Then you can start washing.

Acrylic paint is not good for the environment, so avoid washing big amount of paint down the drain. It is much better for the water system if you wipe off excess paint with a paper towel and throw it in the trash can.

How to Wash Acrylic Paintbrushes

Once you squeeze most of the paint out of your brushes with a paper towel or a rag, wash them with a mild soap and warm water, and rinse thoroughly, until water runs clear.

You can use any non-aggressive soap. Many people like to use Murphy’s oil, the household cleaner.

I often use hand soap, or my favorite: The Master's Brush Soap and Preserver, made specifically for artistic brushes.

How to Clean Acrylic Paint Brushes

Acrylic paint dries very fast. To preserve the health of your paintbrushes it is extremely important to:

- Keep the bristles moist at all times while painting.

- Clean brushes promptly at the end of each painting session.

What brush-personality are you?

Are your brushes clean and neat?

See results

How to Wash Your Brushes, Step-by-Step

  1. Load you wet brush with the soap.

  2. Rub the soapy brush on the palm of your hand, in circles.

  3. Create enough foam to take off all residues of paint.

  4. Massage the bristles with your fingers to get all the paint out from the middle of the hairs.

  5. Rinse and repeat until foam does not show any trace of color.

  6. Dry excess water with a rag, being gentle on the bristles.

  7. Flat dry, making sure that hairs are not pushing against any obstacles that may bend them.

Massage the bristles with your fingers to get all the paint out from the middle of the hairs

Get all the paint from the middle of the bristles by massaging then with your fingers.
Get all the paint from the middle of the bristles by massaging then with your fingers. | Source

Tips on Washing Paint Brushes

  • Use Mild Soap. Avoid dish detergent or other types of aggressive soaps.
  • Use Soap Sparingly. Not to be cheap, but because even the mild soap could dry and affect the brush bristles, plus it takes longer and more water to rinse.
  • Rinse Well. Make sure there is no soap residue whatsoever at the last rinse, or your first paint-stroke with that brush will be "soapy".
  • Absorb Excess Water with a rag, being gentle on the hair of the brush.
  • Lay Wet Brushes Flat. Flat is the best way for a brush to dry.

Store Your Brushes Properly

Keep your Brushes clean and properly stored. Avoid any pressure on the bristles or they will deform.
Keep your Brushes clean and properly stored. Avoid any pressure on the bristles or they will deform. | Source

Ruined your brushes and need to buy new ones? Amazon has lots.

© 2013 Robie Benve

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    • Robie Benve profile image
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      Robie Benve 2 months ago from Ohio

      Hi Katie, I sent you an email with the links to the Feltmagnet acrylic painting web page and my profile page, where you can see all my articles. Hope that helps. : )

    • profile image

      Katie.mason10@aol.com 2 months ago

      I'm getting frustrated in that other Arthur's are in such an abundance and that im searching for Acrylic stuff and im getting all kinds of crafty things ideas. All I want to be able to read, learn how too is from you Robbie. I'm needing all the Acrylic items together.

      What do I need to do to obtain this?

      Thanks

      Katie and Sheldon

    • Robie Benve profile image
      Author

      Robie Benve 5 months ago from Ohio

      That's very interesting Josh! I never heard of using rubbing alcohol in the water before, I must try! Thanks for sharing. Happy painting!

    • profile image

      Josh 5 months ago

      Another way to make cleaning acrylic paint off of your paint brushes it to mix a little rubbing alcohol into your time water. The rubbing alcohol loosens the binding molecules of the paint and thus makes it easier to rince off and rubbing alcohol can be used to thin your paint if needed.

    • Robie Benve profile image
      Author

      Robie Benve 23 months ago from Ohio

      Hi Minnie,

      I understand... ruining one too many brushes is what made me do some extra research and learn what I should have done instead. Here I'm sharing what I now know for a fact, in the hope it can be useful to someone else. :) Thanks a lot for stopping by. Happy painting!

    • profile image

      Minnie 23 months ago

      This is very helpful as I have ruined some brushes

    • Robie Benve profile image
      Author

      Robie Benve 4 years ago from Ohio

      Hi torrilynn, we gotta keep those brushes clean, don't we? :) Thanks a lot for reading and commenting. Happy painting!

    • Robie Benve profile image
      Author

      Robie Benve 4 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Carol, how do you like washable oils? Are they similar to acrylics, but dry slower?

      Thanks for your comment. :)

    • Robie Benve profile image
      Author

      Robie Benve 4 years ago from Ohio

      Hi europewalker, cleaning up after a nice activity always kind of ruins the fun, doesn't it? I hate those times when I get sidetracked and hours later I realize I haven't cleaned up properly!

      Thank goodness I always keep mu brushes well rinsed, so I don't get paint globs drying on them, but still!

      Happy painting and thank you for your comment. :)

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      Hi Robie,

      thanks for this really nice hub here.

      about proper cleaning tips for brushes.

      thanks and voted up

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      A great hub and saving these brushes which do add to the expense of painting. I have now added washable oils to my media..But my acrylics are here when I get in the mood. Thanks for a great hub..Voting up+++ and pinning.

    • europewalker profile image

      europewalker 4 years ago

      Helpful hub. I like to paint but I hate to clean my paint brushes! They are a mess. Voted up and useful.

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