Typically, all you need is water to clean any acrylic paint brushes. It really is that simple! Keep your brushes wet in a cup of water as you use them, and clean them thoroughly when you are done painting for the day.
14 Tips to clean Acrylic paint brushes
Here are some useful tips that might come in handy to keep your brushes clean and extend their life significantly.
Some tips I will mentione will be obvious but for some you maybe haven’t heard about so far. Acrylic painting can be a mess and hopefully at the end you will learn something new
1. Use Warm water
Water is all you need to clean wet paint out of your brushes. Warm water is the most preferable.
2. Keep your brushes clean as you go
If you are finished painting with a brush or finished using a certain color, have a cup of water nearby to dip the brush in.
You should swirl the brush around in the water until the paint completely diffuses out of the brush. Then, wipe the brush onto a paper or cloth towel to ensure the paint is completely out of it.
Pro tip: If you are painting for hours on end, consider cleaning out your brushes every few hours to ensure no paint has dried in the bristles.
3. Change your water regularly
Fresh water will allow the paint to diffuse into the water more effectively.
4. Keep brushes wet
If you can’t clean your brush right away, at least put it in a cup of water until you are ready to fully clean it.
5. Clean your brushes as soon as possible
At the end of your project, clean your brushes right away. Acrylic paint can begin to dry very quickly, so time is working against you.
As soon as you finish your project, take all your brushes to a cleaning area and rinse them fully with water.
6. Use plastic wrap
If you cannot clean your brushes right away for some reason or want to keep the paint that is already in the brush, you can wrap the end of the brush in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge. Seal the wrap completely around the brush so no aiar can get in and dry the paint out.
7. Use running water
The best place to clean out your brush is in a utility sink or a slop sink under warm, running water. Be sure to wipe the sink down with a paper towel or rag when you are finished to get any paint drops off.
8. Use a brush for paintbrushes
Use a wide-toothed comb or an actual paintbrush cleaner to brush the paint out of your paintbrush. Metal teeth will be the most useful for getting off any tough, dried-on paint.
Pro tip: Run it from the heel of the brush to the end (just like brushing human hair). Do not brush against the bristles or you may damage the bristles irreparably.
9. Get the excess water out
Flick the paintbrush into a bucket or into the grass after you are finished rinsing it out. Use a motion like you are cracking a whip with a bigger paint brush, or brush bristles against the tip of your finger for a smaller paintbrush.
10. Use soap and water
If you are still struggling to get all the paint off, you can use a mild soap, like dishwashing detergent, to clean the paint off.
11. Use vinegar
If the paint has dried on or is not coming off easily with water, then you can soak the brush in warm vinegar and rinse it in warm water.
Alcohol also helps to clean brushes with tough, dried-on paint, but it can be very rough on synthetic bristles. Use it sparingly and be sure to rinse your brush completely after soaking it in alcohol for a few minutes.
Pro tip: Use a conditioner afterwards, too, to restore moisture to the bristles and keep them from drying out.
12. Use conditioner
This is a preventative step that keeps your brushes in tip-top shape and keeps the paint from getting stuck at the base of the bristles. Regularly use conditioner on your brushes to make cleaning easier and keep the bristles in good condition.
You can use regular hair conditioner or purchase some made specifically for paint brushes.
13. Use your fingernails
If there is any dried paint on the outside of the bristles, you can use your fingernails to scrape it off.
14. Use a painter’s tool
A six-in-one painter’s tool or a putty knife can also be a useful scraping mechanism to get dried paint off the paint bristles. Just don’t scrape too hard or you may curl the bristles in the same way you can curl ribbon with the edge of a scissor.
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After cleaning your Acrylic brushes, you need to store them well.
After cleaning your brushes, store them in a way that preserves the shape of the bristles. Usually brushes come with cardboard, plastic or fabric container made specially to store them. Save this and use it to keep your bristles sharp.
If you lost the original container, there are a few DIY ways to store your brushes.
- For a medium sized brush, you can wrap it in newspaper and fold down the end to keep the tips sharp and prevent stray hairs. Just be sure you fold the end over past the tip of the brush. Otherwise, you might curl the ends and ruin the brush.
- For smaller brushes, you can simply reshape the wet bristles to a sharp point and allow them to dry that way.
Pro tip: Use synthetic brushes. Synthetic bristles are cheaper, longer-lasting, and easier to clean than natural fiber brushes.
Read my Related post next: How to protect Acrylic painting?
How Do You Get Dried Paint Out of a Paintbrush?
The best way to address this issue is to prevent it by cleaning your brushes after every use, but there are a few options of you find yourself with paint caked-on to your paintbrush.
- First, you can use a metal, brush-cleaning comb to scrape the dried paint out.
- If that is not enough, you can soak the brush in mineral spirits for about ten minutes and then rinse it clean.
- If you cannot get all the dried paint off, you may want to consider trimming your brush as a last resort.
Pro Tip: If there is any paint dried onto the hairs around the edge of your brush, just cut those hairs off as close to the heel of the brush as possible.
How Do You Restore Artist Paint Brushes?
Depending on the type of damage done to a paintbrush, you can use cleaners, conditioner, or trimming techniques to restore an old brush. If there is dried-on paint involved, refer to the cleaning tips above using water, vinegar, or mineral spirits. You can also condition your bristles to keep them soft.
If there is a bend at the end of the brush or many stray hairs sticking out, trim these down. You can cut off the tip of the brush if it was laid against the bottom of a container for too long and it will still be useable. If it was not stored correctly or cleaned too harshly, then you may need to trim the stray hairs from around the edge. Trim them down as close to the heel as possible.
Can You Wash Acrylic Paint Brushes in The Sink?
Yes, you can. Just make sure you clean all the paint out of the inside of the sink and off of the faucet after you are finished. It is a good idea to use a utility sink of some sort and wipe it down with a paper towel when you are finished.
Can You Use Vinegar to Clean Paint Brushes?
You can use vinegar with Acrylic paint brushes. For severely caked-on paint, warm up the vinegar using a microwave or stove. Then, rest the paintbrush in warm vinegar for about twenty minutes. Rinse the brush out with warm water and dry it out.
Can You Leave Paintbrushes in The Water Overnight?
This is not a good idea. Water will not hurt the bristles directly, but it can soften the glue attaching the bristles to the brush or it can cause the handle coating to chip off. If you do leave a brush in water, be sure the brushes are suspended in the water because resting them against the bottom of the container can bend the bristles.
What Liquid Is Used to Remove Paint from Brushes?
Water is the primary liquid used to remove acrylic paint from brushes, although vinegar or alcohol can also be used for tougher jobs. For the strongest cleaning power, use mineral spirits in a well-ventilated area.
What Dissolves Dried Acrylic Paint?
Mineral spirits will dissolve dried on paint. If you soak the bush in warm water or vinegar, you may be able to pull the dried paint out of the brush instead of dissolving it.