Professional painters buy quality brushes and take the time to clean them properly. They could buy cheap brushes and then throw them away to save themselves the trouble of thoroughly cleaning their brushes. So why do they take the trouble and expense to buy and maintain a quality paintbrush? Because a good paintbrush is easier to paint with and will yield better results than a cheap brush. All in all, you will save time and money by using a good paint brush. Thoroughly cleaning a good paint brush will enable it to last for years. Although it takes time to properly clean a brush, it is well worth the effort. If you are using cheap brushes, then a quick cleaning between uses is all that is called for; once the brush becomes too stiff and clogged with dried paint, simply throw it away.
Brushes should be cleaned immediately after each use. If you are taking a break, to prevent the paint from drying on the brush, either hang the brush with the bristles submerged half way in a can of paint or seal the brush in a zip lock bag. When storing a brush between projects, hang the brush by the handle and wrap the bristles in the original wrapper or some brown paper.
Cleaning Latex Paint from Paint Brushes
Depending upon where you live, you may not be allowed to wash brushes in the sink or gutter. Check with your local authorities before cleaning brushes.
Start by removing as much paint as possible by brushing it onto some newspaper or scrap material.
Hold the brush under warm water, turning it over, until the water runs clear.
Hold the bristles upward under the stream of water to wash away the paint from the brush's "pocket".
Use liquid dish soap and warm water, massage it into the bristles to remove partially dried paint.
Rinse out the soap with warm water.
Holding the brush in your hand, swing your arm to force out the water held in the bristles.
Blot the bristles with paper towels to remove the last of the water.
Stubborn dried paint can be combed out with a paintbrush comb or even a plastic pocket comb.
To store the brush cover the bristles with the original package or with absorbent paper and hang the brush by the handle with the bristles hanging down.
Cleaning Oil Paint from Paint Brushes
Because paint thinner is harmful to the environment you can't dump it, you will need multiple cans or buckets for cleaning and for storage.
Use either paint thinner or mineral spirits to clean oil paint.
Work in a well ventilated area and avoid inhaling the fumes from the brush cleaner.
Use two or three cans to clean your brush in stages. Fill each can deep enough to cover the bristles.
Start by removing as much paint as possible by brushing it onto paper or scrap material.
In the first can of thinner, dip and swirl the brush to remove as much paint as possible. For brushes with dried paint use brush cleaner in the first can instead of thinner.
Paint out as much thinner as possible onto a newspaper.
The first can of thinner will now be opaque with paint, so move on to the second can and repeat the previous steps.
If you use a third can, the thinner should be fairly clear after you repeat the steps and leave your brush clean.
Stubborn dried paint can be combed out with a brush comb or plastic pocket comb.
Blot the bristles with paper towels to remove remaining moisture and dispose of the paper towels safely and in accordance with local laws.
Cover the bristles with the original package or with brown paper and hang the brush by the handle and the bristles hanging down.
Let the solids settle in the three cans and then pour off the thinner for reuse. Allow the solids to dry and then away in an approved manner.