5 Steps to Clean Your Paint Brushes (Eco-Friendly Ways)

how to clean paint brushes environmentally friendly

If you are a painter like me, the last thing you will want to do after the paint is cleaning up the paintbrushes.

I used to be like a lazy painter and avoid doing that by simply slipping in my brush into a plastic bag and putting it into a freezer.

Well, the technique would work if you want to use your expensive paintbrush again within a day or two.

But a good cleanup is essential if you are not using it for a week or more.

If you do not, the paint dries quickly making the bristles to get stiffen.

It would be then difficult for you to use your brush again for your future projects.

5 Environmentally Friendly Tips to Clean Paint Brushes

Keeping your paint brushes clean is no easy task. Even if you use latex paint which cleans up with water.

This is especially true if you want to use environmentally or eco-friendly products to do the work.

Traditional chemicals used in paint thinner products are quite effective in removing the paint but disposing of the thinner can be problematic.

What follows are five tips that will help clean your paint brushes, so they last for a long time.

1- Use as Much Paint as Possible on the Brush

When you are finishing up with your painting, rub the brush on the surface as much as possible.

If you no longer want to add paint to the surface, then rub the brush on the lip of the can to remove as much of it as possible.

The paint is easier to remove while it is still wet, so do as much as possible to use all you can before going to the next step.

2- Wrap & Store

If you are planning on painting the next day and using the same paint, you can wrap it in plastic wrap which will keep the paint moist on the brush for at least one day.

This means that you do not have to clean the brush until after the job is completed.

If it’s going to be more than a day before you can paint again with the same paint, then wrap the brush and put it in the freezer.

This will keep it ready to go for up to two weeks.

3- Combing

While the brush is still wet, use a paint brush comb to remove as much paint as possible.

Brush combs are inexpensive and fairly effective at removing most of the paint that remains.

If you dip the paint brush in soapy water, the comb may be even more effective.

However, with oil-based paints in particular it may not be 100%.

4- Use Water

Water is certainly eco-friendly and can be used to remove latex paint from brushes.

Instead of using running water, fill a bucket with water and add a dash of dish soap.

This will break up the surface tension of the water and allow it to clean the brush properly. It will work on latex paints, but it is less effective on oil-based paints.

You will need a proper paint thinner for that job. 

5- Less Toxic Paint Thinners

There are paint thinner products that use considerably fewer toxic properties than traditional paint thinners of the past.

Many paint and hardware stores advertise eco-friendly paint thinners because they are becoming more popular.

However, you should always look at the ingredients or properties to ensure that they are truly less toxic.

You may find that a combination of methods will work best in cleaning your paint brushes.

A brush comb combined with soap and water may be the most eco-friendly solution, especially for latex-based paints.

However, do not discount paint thinners that have far fewer toxic properties as they work quite well while doing far less damage to the environment.

The bottom line

Good paintbrushes do not come cheap. And for a pro painter owning them is a proud feeling.

No matter you are using latex, oil or shellac, its important that you consider cleaning them as a crucial step after completing your project.

Making use of environmentally friendly ways not only saves you a good amount of money but also keeps your brushes durable and precise for long-term usage.

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