How To Clean A Paintbrush: A Complete Guide

2 min read

How to Clean a Paintbrush even if it's totally gunky


Painting is a popular hobby and a great way to add a fresh coat of color to your home. However, one of the most daunting tasks after completing a painting project is cleaning the paintbrush. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to clean a paintbrush effectively.

Why is Cleaning a Paintbrush Important?

Properly cleaning a paintbrush not only helps to maintain the brush’s quality but also ensures that you can reuse it in future projects. Neglecting to clean a paintbrush can result in dried paint clogging the bristles, rendering it useless.

What You Will Need

Before we dive into the cleaning process, gather the following materials:

  • Warm water
  • Mild dish soap
  • Old rag or paper towels
  • Paint thinner (if using oil-based paint)
  • Container or bucket

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Remove Excess Paint

Begin by removing any excess paint from the brush. You can do this by gently scraping the bristles against the edge of the paint can or a piece of cardboard. Take care not to damage the bristles during this process.

Step 2: Rinse with Warm Water

Next, rinse the paintbrush under warm running water. Hold the brush with the bristles pointing downwards to prevent water from seeping into the ferrule (the metal part that holds the bristles together). Gently massage the bristles with your fingers to remove any remaining paint.

Step 3: Clean with Dish Soap

Apply a small amount of mild dish soap to the palm of your hand or directly onto the bristles. Gently swirl the brush in the soap, creating a lather. This will help to break down any lingering paint particles.

Step 4: Rinse Again

Rinse the paintbrush under warm water once more to remove the soap residue. Continue massaging the bristles with your fingers until the water runs clear.

Step 5: Dry the Brush

After cleaning, gently squeeze out any excess water from the bristles. Use an old rag or paper towels to blot the brush and remove any remaining moisture. Reshape the bristles with your fingers to ensure they dry evenly.

Step 6: Store Properly

Once the paintbrush is completely dry, store it in a clean and dry place. Avoid placing it upright or storing it with the bristles facing downwards, as this can cause the bristles to bend or deform.


1. Can I reuse a paintbrush without cleaning it?

It is not recommended to reuse a paintbrush without cleaning it. Dried paint can clog the bristles and affect the quality of your future painting projects.

2. Can I use paint thinner to clean water-based paint?

No, paint thinner is not necessary for water-based paint. Warm water and mild dish soap are sufficient to clean water-based paint from a brush.

3. How often should I clean my paintbrush?

It is best to clean your paintbrush immediately after each use to prevent paint from drying and hardening on the bristles.

4. Can I clean a paintbrush with vinegar?

Yes, you can use vinegar as an alternative to dish soap for cleaning a paintbrush. Mix equal parts vinegar and warm water and follow the same cleaning process.

5. How long does it take for a paintbrush to dry?

The drying time for a paintbrush depends on various factors such as the type of paint used and the humidity of the environment. On average, it can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight for a paintbrush to dry completely.

By following these simple steps, you can effectively clean your paintbrush and ensure its longevity for future painting projects. Remember to clean your brush immediately after each use to maintain its quality and performance.