How To Clean A Paintbrush And Keep Its Shape?

A paintbrush is the most important tool when it comes to painting and decorating. You should always clean your paintbrush because next time you will be presented with a rock-solid brush that is never going to paint again.

Cleaning Paintbrushes - Examples
Cleaning Paintbrushes – Examples

Oil-based and water-based paints will both set rock hard if left to air dry.

To clean your paintbrushes simply follow these simple tricks to keeping your paintbrush in perfect working order after every use.

Cleaning Water-Based Paints From Paintbrush

Cleaning Water-Based Paints
Cleaning Water-Based Paints

When using water-based paints such as emulsion & various gloss paints you must remove any paint because it will set rock hard.

To remove the paint from your brush you only need to use water and liquid soap. Simply rinse the brush grab a bowl with some soap and brush around the bowl.

This will make your soap bubble and will remove any paint and grease deep inside the bristles.

  1. Rinse your brush with warm water
  2. Add liquid soap to a bowl
  3. Brush your paintbrush around the bowl
  4. This will remove any grease and dissolve the paint
  5. Once you have cleaned your brush simply was with water
  6. Lightly wrap your brush with a rubber band

Do not tighten the rubber band you only want to keep the shape while your brush dries.

Position the rubber band towards the tip of your paintbrush so the bristles keep their shape once dry.

If you do not use a rubber band then once your bristles dry they will spread out so it will be harder to get a straight line when cutting-in.

Cleaning Oil-Based Paints From Paintbrush

Cleaning Oil-based Paints
Cleaning Oil-based Paints

Oil-based paints are much harder to remove from a paintbrush than water-based paints. When removing oil-based paints such as varnish, gloss and undercoats you need to use a paint thinner before washing with soapy water.

A paint thinner will break down the oil making it easier to degrease and wash with soapy water.

  • Remove any excess paint
  • Fill a small cup with paint thinner
  • Gently rub your brush around the small cup
  • Continue doing this until you have removed the paint
  • Your thinner will become the same colour as your paint

Once your thinner has broken down the oil-based paint just follow the direction for water-based paints above.

The only way to clean your brush when using oil-based paints is using a paint thinner such as white spirit.

To avoid using paint thinners you should choose water-based paints. In recent years many brands have switched to using water-based paints for gloss, undercoat and varnishes. So be sure to check the type of paint you are using before you buy.

Is it necessary to clean my Paintbrush?

If you have not finished with your DIY painting and decorating task then you can avoid cleaning your paintbrush for both water and oil-based paints (24hrs).

Just simply wrap them in clingfilm overnight and they will be ready to use in the morning. You want to keep your clingfilm airtight so your paint does not go off overnight.

You must use your paintbrush within 24hrs or you will find the paint will start to dry.

Once the paint dries inside your bristles your paintbrush will not work the same, even if you can bring it back to life a little.


A good cutting-in paintbrush can be expensive, so keeping it in working order is a must.

Happy Painting 😉

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