• My Guide: Saving Your Paint Brushes

My Guide: Saving Your Paint Brushes ~ Acrylic Paint

I know our brushes will not last forever, but they are our tools of the trade and they last longer when cared for correctly. I have learned the hard way and now have 20+ year old brushes I use today, as I changed the way I handled, cleaned and stored them. I think, the better you care of them, the more money you save as brushes are expensive investments.

BEFORE CLEANING:

Here is the way I clean and care for my brushes:

  1. Leave used brushes in water to make cleaning acrylic paint easier.
  2. Wash each brush separately as holding all your brushes in one hand means they damage each other.
  3. When you wash each brush, run the cold water over the bristles and use your fingers to separate the brush fibers to rinse the paint out until the water runs clear.
  4. While rinsing the brushes use a moisturizing or brush cleaning soap by stroking them across the soap. Hold the bristles and gently move the handle to create suds to create a foam. Doing this, will gently push the soap up into ferrule, deep in the bristles, to clean away any paint that is there.
  5. Rinse the bristles thoroughly.
  6. When the brushes are still wet, gently use your fingers to put the bristles into their original shape. If they are flat edged then pinch the flat edges between your fingers to re-create the chiselled edge.
  7. There are two ways to dry brushes : standing them handle down in a brush ‘rack’ or lying them flat on top of kitchen roll or a towel.
  8. Once completely dry storing the brushes in plastic brush tubes protects them from any damage or being transported.

AFTER PHOTOGRAPHS:

My Natural Bristle Brushes After Deep Cleaning
My Natural Bristle Brushes After Deep Cleaning – Although they are not new looking they are 80% clean as they are old and used every time I paint.
Goats paintbrush re-shaped after cleaning
Laura H Elliott BA (Hons) Art
Paintbrush re-shaped after cleaning
My essential brush
Paintbrush re-shaped after cleaning

My top tips on caring for your brushes:

  1. The key to cleaning your brushes is not to use warm or hot water. The heat hardens the paint and makes the task more difficult.
  2. Don’t leave your brushes so that the paint drys as it makes cleaning harder and it is best to only have the water covering the bristles.
  3. I find if the brush handles are in the water the wood, handles absorb the water and this starts to crack and peel or crack the varnish which then breaks off.
  4. Some alcohol based brush cleaners dry the bristles as well as cleaning them. They can be useful for dried on paints but use them with care.
  5. Don’t rub brushes on or at the bottom of your jar or water palette as this will damage the brush. See below:

wp-1465323270587.jpg6) Blot them with kitchen roll or a towel.

7) Dry your brushes naturally in the air. Heating them on something like a radiator is not good as the bristles and the varnish on the handles can get brittle.

8) If there is paint stuck in the bristles, use a very fine tooth comb/brush, as shown below

Steel Comb For Combing Out Dry Paint

9) If there is dried on paint, there is many products on the market you can try.

What brush cleaners do you use?

I mainly use the ‘Colourful Arts Brush Cleaner and Preserver’ brush cleaner which does not dry the brushes out and is not abrasive. Shown below:

Brush Cleaner

The brush cleaner I use for stubborn paint, which I feel is a efficient cleaner with a slightly mild exfoliation type of product called ‘The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver’. I feel it is okay to use, but my brushes are getting dry. I will keep this to combat dry paint on brushes due to its abrasive qualities, but I need something that cleans and moisturises, a bit like a facial cleanser.

Brush Cleaner

The following Winsor Newton Brush Cleaner works well for me. It removes the hard, stuck on paint from one of my most used brushes which is a 3 inch hog hair brush. It isn’t expensive, but creates the effect I want when I paint and I have been unable to find a replacement. The following Winsor Newton Brush Cleaner works well for me:

Laura H Elliott BA (Hons) Art

This is the Winsor & Newton Paint Brush Restorer Official Product Information:

“For dried acrylic, oil, and alkyd colour, this is a non-toxic, biodegradable, non-flammable, non-abrasive, low vapor product that safely and easily cleans both natural and synthetic brushes without damage to the brush head. It is not recommended for use on painted or varnished surfaces; contact with brush handles should be avoided. Not for use with polycarbonate or other plastic surfaces.”


All artworks & designs displayed are © Copyright by artist Laura H Elliott BA (Hons), Dip.

View my professional gallery of works at: http://www.lhe-art.co.uk

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