Cleaning Gloss Paint Brushes

A mixture of warm water and mild soap suds is the best cleaning solution for water-based paints. Prepare soapy water and pour into a clean container. Dip the paint brush into the mixture, working the soap through the brush bristles. Follow with a clear water rinse. To clean bristles with dried-on paint, soak the brush in a solution of warm water and mild liquid soap for about 60 minutes before starting the cleaning process. Never use laundry. It not only saves cleaning, the vapour seems to loosen up the paint - you know how your brush can get a bit 'tired' by lunchtime, and hour in the box and its light and easy to use again. Whereas before I'd try and save any touching up till the end to avoid using a clean brush, now I have no problem, just grab a brush for the smallest dod.

Follow these simple steps to properly clean paint brushes after your next do-it-yourself project.


An investment in high-quality paint brushes is wasted if they are not properly cleaned and stored after use. Indeed, rushing through the end of a paint job can leave you with flecks of paint in your brushes—which will lead to an imperfect finish on your next project—as well as misshapen bristles. So invest the extra two minutes it takes to do the job right and follow this guide on how to clean paint brushes.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
– Newspapers
– Mineral spirits
– Turpentine
– Mild liquid dish soap
– Small plastic buckets
– Paint brush and roller spinner
– Rags

The Right Way to Clean Paint Brushes


  1. Use up what paint remains on your brush on whatever you are painting.
    Press the bristles against the inside of the paint can, and lift it up and out as you do—that will squeeze out more paint. Paint away the rest on newspapers, because cleaning a brush is made easier if you remove as much of the paint from its bristles as possible.
  2. Next, examine the can of paint, and use the appropriate sol­vent.
    The right solvent makes the job easy by loosening dried paint, but the wrong one will probably be no help at all. Fill a small bucket with one of the following depending on the type of paint you’ve used:
    • Mineral spirits or turpentine to remove oil-based paint
    • Hot water and mild liquid dish soap to clean paint brushes that have been used to apply latex paint
  3. Immerse the paint brush in the solvent.
    Stir the solvent with the brush for about 10 seconds, wiping and squeezing the bristles on the sides of the container. Work the bristles between your fingers, and run a brush comb through them to remove excess paint without damaging the bristles. If some of the paint has begun to dry on the brush, soaking the brush may be necessary.
  4. Wash it in warm soapy water in a utility sink or bucket.
    Once the paint has been removed from the brush, warm soapy water will clean the brush of the sol­vent and remaining paint.
  5. Shake or spin the paintbrushes dry.
    Before you store your paint brushes, you’ll want to remove all of the water from their bristles. Many DIYers will do so by shaking the brush at the top of a bucket and then blotting the brush dry with a clean rag or news­paper.

    But, for those that have plans to do a lot of painting and wish to preserve their tools, a brush and roller spinner will come in handy. This dual-purpose tool will speed-dry either type of paint applicators using centrifugal force. Just attach a paint brush to the bottom of the tool, then pump the top several times to spin it and fling all water off the business end of the brush.

  6. When storing paint brushes, hang them up or lay them flat.
    Hanging paint tools from a pegboard in your workshop or craft room is not only a great organizational method, but it ensures that the brush’s bristles don’t get bent out of shape stuffed in a bin somewhere. Replace the packaging on your paint brush to maintain its form and prolong its useful lifespan.


One of my readers asked me if it was a good idea to put their wet paintbrushes and rollers in plastic bags tokeep them fresh when you need to stop painting.

Early on in my career, I wrapped mine that way when I had a delay incontinuing the paint job. Well, I was surprised to find that the brushes were pretty dried out in spots and theroller cover was hopelessly stuck to the frame! Was I mad! Did I do something wrong?

Dollar tree paint brushes

Plastic wrap or plastic bags are not the ideal brush and roller wrapping material!

Plastic doesn't work well for a couple of reasons:

  • It's hard to seal a plastic bag well unless you put the entire roller or brush inside.
  • Even then, the excessive air in the bag still allows drying to take place.
  • Wrapping a brush or roller in plastic wrap gives a better seal but is messy to deal with.
  • Thin plastic wraps can be slightly porous, allowing moisture (from latex paints) or solvents (from oil-based paints) to escape, hardening the paint on the brush/roller.

My solution? Aluminum foil instead of plastic!

Why foil? Aluminum foil is virtually airtight when folded around a brush or rolled onto a roller and conforms to the shape perfectly, leaving minimal air for drying. A standard width piece cut about 12' long will cover a standard size brush or roller.

Be sure to leave lots of paint on the roller orbrush before wrapping to get the longest storage time!

How well does it work?

I have wrapped rollers covered with Kilz fast drying primer and had them still useable for a few days. I prefer to use thicker heavy-duty foil, which is less likely to tear. It is only a few cents more per roll than regular foil but well worth it. If you think your rollers will be in for some abuse once wrapped double-wrap them!


How To Clean Gloss Paint Brushes With Vinegar

Want your brushes and rollers to last even longer? Refrigerate them!

If you want those wet brushes and rollers to last even longer, throw… sorry… place them in the refrigerator. Then their useful life can increase by weeks! In fact, I have found month-old rollers still useable, buried behind the veggies in my fridge. Not that it makes my wife very happy… but that's another story!

The freezer?? Not for latex paints!

Cleaning Gloss Paint Brushes Without

Some folks think putting brushes and rollers in the freezer is even better. For oils, it doesn't seem to have a negative effect. But for latex paints, freezing can cause the paint to become stringy and semi-solid. These little bits of clotted paint will transfer to your work, leaving little lumps on the surface and making a general mess. Stick to the refrigerator!