How to clean paint brushes

Filling your at-home time by painting? Here's how to clean paint brushes properly afterwards

How to clean paint brushes
(Image credit: n/a)

Cleaning paint brushes is officially one of our favourite DIY occupations (yes, really). Yup, as a nation, we are apparently hugely satisfied by getting gunky gloss and emulsion off to reveal near pristine bristles (this, according to a survey*). We're probably happy that we've finished whatever painting job we were tackling, too.

With these enforced weeks at home, we have all been throwing ourselves into those DIY tasks we never have time for and have been putting off for months… okay, years.

And what does that mean? Dirty paint brushes that need cleaning. Follow our tips to safely get your brushes clean and stored ready for the next job.

How to clean water-based paint off brushes

Top tip

In the middle of a painting project and want to keep your brushes fresh overnight? Simply wrap the head of your paintbrushes and roller in cling film or secure in an airtight plastic bag. Seal around the handle with masking tape and store in a dry place for up to two days – Dulux

  • When you’ve finished painting, scrape as much paint as possible from the brushes into the tin using the edge of it. You can even work it into some scrap paper.
  • Get a bucket or bowl of soapy water and leave to soak for a couple of hours. Refill with soapy water and wash the brush or roller, working the paint out of the bristles with your fingers. Shake off the water and paint into the bucket.
  • Fill the bucket/bowl with water and rinse the brush/roller in it, again working any leftover paint out with your fingers. Shake off the excess. Repeat until the brushes look clean.
  • Dry the brushes on a clean cloth.

How to clean oil-based paint off brushes

  • If you’ve used a gloss paint, scrape as much of the brush and back into the tin as you can. Fill an old glass jar with white spirit and put the brush in, pressing it against the sides to work the liquid into the brush.
  • Leave to soak for a couple of hours. Refresh the jar if necessary and work the brush around again (use a fresh jar of white spirit if needed) until the brush is clean.
  • Remove and rinse the brushes under the tap. Dry with a clean cloth and store.
  • DON’T pour the left over white spirit down the sink. Leave it in the jar and allow the paint to settle in the bottom. Pour off the clear liquid into a container so it can be reused. Let the paint dry into a solid lump then dispose of it in the rubbish bin.

More DIY know how: