How can I keep my paint-brushes fresh and clean, soft and so on?

Some people clean them with soap while others let them lay in oil over night. You can save a lot of money by taking good care of you brushes. What should I be doing?

  • This really depends on what you are painting with: oils, stains, paints, water etc. . Different mediums require different clean up methods. The best all around answer is to clean your brushed when you are done using them and don't let them sit.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 19:30
  • @Matt yes ,I have done an edit to the question
    – IljaRepin
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 19:35
  • 2
    That certainly will narrow it down. I adjusted the title, body and tags to reflect that. I removed the use of "best" as that can attract opinions. You will still get the answers you seek.
    – Matt
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 19:45

2 Answers 2


When I'm done painting, this is how I clean up. I've kept some brushes for years like this:

  • Soak the brush in white spirit for a minute or so
  • Gently massage the bristles to loosen the paint and make sure as much as possible is dissolved in the spirits
  • Put a good dollop of liquid soap onto the bristles, and gently scrub into a lather with a bit of warm water (not hot), separating the bristles to get as much paint out as possible
  • Rinse out with warm water
  • Repeat if necessary

Make sure the flow of water is always from handle to tip, make sure you're never pushing paint up towards the handle as it can collect there where it's almost impossible to get out, and it will harden and splay the bristles over time.

  • This! I recommend "The Master's Artist Hand Soap" which is a green bar of soap. After I clean the brushes in solvent I wet the soap and rub the bristles into the bar, then rub them around in my palm till they are nice and soapy, rinse and voila soft clean brush...
    – rebusB
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 18:40

Tom is absolutely right, but only if you're a weekend painter. If you paint every or most days it's far too onerous and you'll probably let it slip after a while! Better to wash the brushes in white spirit as best you can and then suspend them in genuine turpentine. You can buy commercial gadgets to do this but an elastic band around the bundle of brushes, a stick of some kind pushed through the bundle below the elastic band, and suspend them in turps in a jam jar works perfectly well and costs nothing. The reason I say use turps is that is your medium, or part of it, so just squeeze out the surplus an away you go.

  • This is good if you are coming back to painting soon but I always try to clean my used brushes before leaving studio. Too easy to forget them or stay away longer than expected. Its not good for brush to be soaking for too long as it can effect the bristles or cause the handle to swell and crack. And if the solvent evaporates away that brush is history.
    – rebusB
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 18:42

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