How To Clean Acrylic Paint Brushes

Acrylic paint is quick drying which is great for drying but not so great for cleaning! It is very easy to ruin your paint brushes if you do not clean and care for them properly.

Be sure to read up on the following instructions and tips to keep your brushes in great shape and save money in the long run.

Cleaning your brush after painting

Dipping your brush into water isn’t going to do anything other than get your brush wet. To actually clean a brush, you need physical agitation, and I don’t mean “swish it around in the water jar a few times” agitation, but “mash it back and forth against your other hand while holding it under running water” agitation.

Start cleaning your paintbrush as soon as possible so that the paint doesn’t get the chance to start drying and hardening on the brush.

  1. Wash your brushes in warm soapy water by massaging it in circles on the palm of your hand. Use some paint brush soap (or plain old hand soap) and really work up a lather. Be mindful of cleaning between the bristles, especially the area close to the ferrule.
  2. Rinse until the water runs clear, squeeze it dry, and then re-shape the brush.
  3. Let your brush dry horizontally. If you store the brushes vertically when still wet, moisture will penetrate under the ferrule, ruining it in the long term.

Cleaning your brush when switching colours

To quickly clean between colour changes, keep a kitchen sponge in small container, fill it with hot water and use it to wash the brush by dragging it back and forth over the hot, damp sponge. You can then swish and rinse the brush in a large jar of cold water. This is usually enough for a clean colour change using one brush. Of course, you do need to keep the water with the sponge in it hot and the swish and rinse water clean.

Things to be mindful of when painting

  • Don’t put so much paint on your brush: put the paint on just the tip, not the whole thing.
  • Use more brushes: if you are switching between colours regularly use one brush per colour or at least colour family (you can get away with just swishing the brush around in the water jar and wiping on a paper towel).
  • Keep your brushes wet: keep the bristles moist in order to avoid residual paint from drying on them.
  • Do not leave your brush sitting in the water: the acrylic paint can still dry and it is also bad for the health of your brush bristles.

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