How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes

While true artistry is something people can only be born with, a good artist would be nowhere without a few good materials. Good paint and good paintbrushes are fundamental in creating artistic masterpieces but unfortunately, they may also be quite expensive. Although good paint can only last so long, good paintbrushes can last a lifetime, but only if they are properly cared for and maintained.


Among the most stubborn paints to remove from a paint brush is oil paint. If one is interested in exploring the world of art, one must definitely learn how to clean oil paint brushes.

One way to clean oil paint brushes is to use paint thinner. With a standard brand of paint thinner at hand, pour some of the liquid into a small plastic cup or container. Immerse the paintbrush into the solution and let it sit there for a few minutes. The more oil paint there is on the brush, the longer it should stay in the paint thinner. For dry, stubborn bits of paint, try scrubbing the bottom of the plastic cup or container with the end of the brush. Every so often, take the paint brush out of the paint thinner solution and squeeze it dry with some tissue or newspaper. Each time you do this, there should be less and less amounts of paint that comes out of the brush. When you are satisfied with how clean the paint brush has become, wash it thoroughly with some water. Then, with some liquid hand soap, lather the bristles of the brush gently but firmly. Repeat the process until the lather from the soap is its natural colour, with no paint mixed in with it. This will verify that no more paint is left on your brush. When you are done, rinse the liquid hand soap from the brush and leave it to dry.

For best cleaning results, it is important to clean brushes right after you are done using them. Leaving them covered in paint overnight could make the cleaning process very difficult or perhaps even impossible. Even if dried paint can be removed, it can cause bristles to change in shape, direction and texture. Also, when leaving the paint brushes to dry, place them in a tall, empty glass with their bristles facing upwards. Leaving paint brushes to dry while the bristles are at the bottom could cause also cause the bristles to change in shape and direction, altering the overall quality of the brush.
It is almost impossible to restore them to their original colour. Nonetheless, slight discoloration in the bristles should have no effect on your painting efforts as long as you carefully followed the steps on how to clean oil paint brushes.