How To Clean An Oil Paint Brush

Oil paints are some of the most versatile and durable paints on the market, but they can also be notoriously difficult to clean.

It’s important to know how to clean your brushes properly, so the left-over paint won’t ruin the bristles or mix with the new paint.

Let’s take a look at two different ways to clean your oil paint brushes: the quick and easy way, and the thorough cleaning method.

Quick & easy way to clean your oil brush

Painting can be really fun, but having to thoroughly clean all your brushes afterwards is a hassle.

If you are planning on using your brushes again in a few days, you fortunately don’t need to clean your brushes perfectly because the oil paint won’t dry that quickly.

Here are simple and fast way to clean your oil brushes:

  1. Wipe off as much paint as possible
  2. Soak the brushes for a few minutes in a slow drying oil such as Safflower oil
  3. Let the brushes dry

For your next painting session, you can simply wipe down your oil brushes and you will be ready to go.

If you use the method, there might be some paint left between the bristles. But normally the amount of paint left on the brush is too small to change the color of the new paint. (Unless you are going to use a very light color).

Keep in mind that with this cleaning method you need to use the brushes again within a few days before any residual paint can dry.

Since letting the oil paint dry on your brushes is the fastest way to ruin them, you want to use a more thorough cleaning method if you won’t be using your brushes again any time soon.

How to clean oil paint brushes between colors

To clean your paint brushes between colors, you can use the quick cleaning method described above with a few tweaks:

  1. Wipe off any excess paint
  2. Rinse the brush in an oil (rather than paint thinner)
  3. Use a bar of soap until you no longer see any color bleeding
  4. Remove any remaining water with a paper towel

With this method you can get rid of the majority of paint as quickly as possible. So you can get back to painting quickly.

Best way to clean oil brushes thoroughly

If you are done painting for the foreseeable future, it’s time to clean the paint off your brushes.

Using a solvent is going to be your best friend here, since regular soap and water isn’t going to do much to oil-based paints.

  1. Wipe off as much paint as possible using a paper towel or cloth
  2. Place your brushes in a solvent or paint thinner for a few minutes
  3. Wipe down your brushes again rinse them in warm water
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 once or twice with new paint thinner
  5. Dip the brush in your paint thinner and work them on a bar of soap
  6. Wash the brush and repeat step 5 until you can no longer see any colors bleeding
  7. Rinse the brushes and mold the tips
  8. Let the brushes dry without folding or warping the bristles

Keep in mind that most solvents and paint thinners aren’t very healthy, so make sure to use gloves, work in a ventilated room, and don’t spill it.

How to clean oil paint brushes without paint thinner

If you don’t want to use paint thinner or turpentine, you can use linseed oil and a bar of soap to clean your paint brushes. You will still be able to remove the oil paint residues deep inside the bristles this way, but it will normally take a little longer than using paint thinner.

Can you clean oil paint brushes with water

You can’t use water to clean your oil paint brushes since water doesn’t mix well with oil. Adding soap can help, but most soaps aren’t very effective when it comes to removing oil paint. By using a paint thinner, you can remove the oil paint much faster.

Can you clean oil paint brushes with rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol can remove the oil paint from your brushes by reactivating the paint. However, rubbing alcohol can also dry out and damage the hairs, so it’s not one of the recommended methods. Using a paint thinner is a faster and safer way to clean your brushes.

Can you clean oil paint brushes with acetone

You can clean the oil paint from your brushes by using acetone. Unfortunately, acetone is quite difficult to work with, because it can dissolve almost any plastic it comes in contact with. So any splatters can quickly ruin any furniture of clothing.

Moreover, the acetone can also dissolve the glue that keeps all the hairs together. So soaking your brushes in acetone for too long will result in hair loss.

Finally, large amounts of acetone aren’t as easy to dispose as other commonly used paint thinners. So it’s easier to use paint thinners or a mineral oil to clean your brushes.

Can you clean oil paint brushes with nail polish remover

It’s not recommended to use nail polish remover for cleaning your oil paint brushes. This is because most nail polish removers contain acetone, which can harm the glue that keeps all the hairs together. Although nail polish remover can be used as a last option, there are better and safer methods for cleaning oil paint brushes.

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