Proper cleaning also ensures you can achieve professional results every time you paint a room. If paint brushes aren’t cleaned thoroughly, a poor finish next time you use them could be the result. Our guide has the lowdown on cleaning paint brushes whichever type of paint you’ve used for each part of the room. 

How to clean paint brushes

After painting a wall, ceiling, or woodwork, follow the lead of the pros and care for the brushes you’ve used straightaway. What you need to do this will depend on the type of paint finishes used, as different solvents are required for different paint types.  ‘Before you start cleaning a paint brush, remove as much paint as you can from the bristles,’ says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens. ‘Touch-up a wall as necessary, and if any paint remains on the brush after that, paint onto newspaper to remove it.’ This is how to clean paint brushes.

How to clean paint brushes after using latex paint

Cleaning paint brushes used to apply latex (water-based) paint is easy. Warm water and a mild dish soap can be used as a solvent.  Make up the solution in a small bucket or other clean container and dip the bristles of the brush into it. Use the side of the container to work the solution through the bristles, and use your fingers, too.  After working the paint out of the bristles, rinse in clean water. Bristles not completely clean? Repeat the procedure of washing in a dish soap solution and then rinsing.

How to clean paint brushes after using oil-based paint

For oil-based paint, you’ll need mineral spirits or turpentine as a cleaning solvent. Put this into a small bucket or other clean container and dip the brush in. Work the solvent through the bristles thoroughly, following the same method as for cleaning a paint brush after using latex paint.  Remove excess thinner by spinning the handle of the brush between your hands, then repeat the process using a clean container and fresh thinner.

How to care for brushes after cleaning them

Hang paint brushes to store them, if possible. ‘Never store brushes with the bristles pressed against a surface as this can leave them curled,’ says Lucy. ‘If they aren’t hung, store them horizontally.’

What happens if you don’t wash your paint brushes?

If you don’t wash your paint brushes, paint will dry there, damaging the bristles of the brushes and reducing their lifespans. Old paint left in the bristles of a brush could spoil the finish next time you go to use it, too.

How often should you clean your paint brushes?

Paint brushes should be cleaned at the end of very painting job – and you should do it right away. After cleaning, dry the paint brushes and then store them by hanging from the handle or laying them flat.