How To Clean Paint Brushes and Rollers

For a quality paint finish, it is important to use quality paint brushes and rollers - and these can become relatively expensive. Thus, it is important to keep your paint brushes and rollers in good working condition to avoid having to replace them. It is always best to clean your painting tools immediately after use, but sometimes they can be restored if the paint has already dried on them. Simply follow these easy steps: 

  1. Remove any excess paint. You can scrape it off with a putty knife or paint stirring stick, or roll or brush the excess paint out onto some newspaper.
  2. For water-based paints: Wash the paint brush or roller in a bucket of warm water and detergent (dish washing liquid works really well). Rinse it under a running tap or hose until the water runs clear.
  3. For oil-based paints: Work the paint out of the brush or roller in a bucket of paint thinner. DO NOT rinse them in water. Once the paint has been removed, shake brushes to remove excess thinner, or place rollers back on the frame and spin them.
  4. Wrap your paint brushes and rollers in plastic wrap (bread wrappers work great!) to keep them fresh.
  5. To restore paint brushes covered in dried paint: Soak the brush in a small container of solvent appropriate for the paint type. Once it has soaked for a while, put on a pair of rubber gloves, and use your fingers to work the solvent into the bristles and remove the paint. Repeat this process until most of the paint has been removed, and then clean the brush with a strong trisodium phosphate (TSP) solution.

Generally, a solution can be found to clean almost any kind of paint from your paint brushes and rollers. Many hardware stores carry several kinds of paint removers or brush cleaners that are specifically designed to clean old paint brushes, and usually they can help you choose the solvent that will meet your needs. Oftentimes all it takes is a little bit of patience to let the solvent do its job, and your old paint brushes will be like new.  

However, the best policy is still to clean your paint brushes and rollers as soon as you have finished painting. This will extend the life of your painting tools, as well as ensure that you continue to receive a high quality finish with those paint brushes or rollers.


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