How to clean a paintbrush is a tricky question. Cleaning a paintbrush with dried paint, or cleaning latex paint off of a paintbrush, and cleaning chalk paint off of your paintbrush are a little different but can be done with the right products and elbow grease.
I am guilty of letting a paintbrush dry out. I am embarrassed to say how many paintbrushes I have ruined over the years. Some of them could be saved and some could not. Some of them were expensive and I tried harder to save them. I get attached to my favorite brushes though and these days I take really great care of my paintbrushes.
I have a few tricks up my sleeve for the hard cases that I learned the hard way.
Shopping List For Cleaning Paint Brushes
You can get these supplies at Home Depot and Walmart usually has them as well. Make sure you are getting the Krud Kutter Deglosser with the red label for cleaning your paint brushes as well as prepping your painting projects. It’s my go-to cleaner.
- Krud Kutter
- I buy a spray bottle and the gallon to refill it, and use the gallon to clean my brushes
- Stainless Steel Wire Brush
- Plastic Quart Containers
- or Glass Jars
- Old Towels
- Running Water
- Chicken Wire
- Dawn Dish Soap
Shop The List Here
You can check out my YouTube video for making a DIY Brush Cleaner Here!
Storing a paintbrush with Wet Paint
Cleaning your paintbrush almost immediately after you paint is ideal. I always recommend wrapping your paintbrush in a wet paper towel and putting the wet paintbrush in a plastic baggie. Seal it in the baggie if you aren’t quite done yet. This will keep it wet and workable for several hours and sometimes days.
How to clean a Paintbrush with Wet Paint
If you are done with your project and ready to clean your brush while it’s still wet here are the steps.
If possible, I usually do this outside using a rock and the water hose for my big brushes and I have a DIY brush cleaner jar video on YouTube. Also, this post is referring to latex and other water-based paints only like chalk paint and craft paint. Oil paint is another issue.
- Try to get as much wet paint off of your paintbrush as possible
- Rinse the paintbrush with running water
- Spray a generous amount of Krud Kutter onto the paintbrush bristles and anywhere there is paint
- Start scraping with the Stainless Steel Wire Brush like brushing your hair
- Continue rinsing, spraying, and scraping the paintbrush until the water runs clear
- Lay the paintbrush down flat on an old towel to dry
How to Clean a Paintbrush With Dried Paint
Sometimes we accidentally let our paint get dry on our paintbrushes. If this happens they can be saved most of the time. Try these steps below to get stubborn dried paint out of your paintbrushes.
- Pour enough Krud Kutter Dglosser (Red Label) to cover the paintbrush bristles
- Place all of your paintbrushes with dried paint into the Krud Kutter Solution
- Cover the bristles completely
- Let soak for several hours
- If the paint is still being stubborn, let the paintbrushes soak overnight
- When your paint is loosening and getting soft, rinse with water mixed with dawn dish soap
- Use a Stainless Steel Wire Brush and scrape the bristles with pressure (I use a rock or hard surface to apply pressure to my paintbrush bristles)
- Repeat this process until the brush is clean
The Best Paintbrushes
These are my favorite paintbrushes! I have used cheap paintbrushes thinking that it didn’t make a difference in the past, but I have learned that investing in good paintbrushes is a must if you want the smoothest finish. Not all paintbrushes are created equal when it comes to getting the smooth finish you are going for.
If I am staining or glazing or paint washing I use a cheap chip brush but if I am painting a piece that I want to have a smooth finish I only use my favorite paint brushes.