Putting paintbrush in the refrigerator, fridge, or freezer.
Many people unaware of this technique will be skeptical, but this is a tried and true method that works when you want to save your used paintbrush for the next day.
Simply take your paintbrush, wrap it tightly in plastic, and store it in the fridge or freezer. The next day, take it out and allow it to thaw for a few minutes – your paintbrush will be as good as new.
Well, that’s the short and sweet solution if you are looking for a way that can help save your paintbrushes or even roller covers for the following day.
But before you try this method, you should know a few details along with precise instructions so that your paintbrush will be in optimal condition when you use it again. Read on to find out those tips and ideas on how you should exactly store your paintbrush in the fridge…
Why Put Paintbrushes in a Fridge?
Before we get into the details of wrapping and storing the brushes, let’s try to understand the logic behind putting them in a fridge. After all, it doesn’t seem natural to put something used for painting into a place where we store food, right?
The simple idea behind storing paintbrushes in a fridge is that the low temperature will prevent the evaporation of the paint solvent.
As you know, most water-based paints these days are made of a mix of latex and acrylic. The latex part is the binder, which gives the paint its structure. Meanwhile, acrylics are used as the pigment to provide color.
The solvent used to thin the paint and keep it in a liquid form is usually water. When you apply the paint to a surface, the water starts to evaporate. This is why latex paints usually have a strong smell when you first open the can – it’s the evaporation of the water solvent.
As the water evaporates, it will leave the binder and pigment behind. This is also the reason your paintbrush will feel stiff after a while as you are painting. The water has evaporated, and all that’s left is the binder and pigment.
If you want to use the same paintbrush the next day, you must prevent the water from evaporating by cutting off the airflow. One way to do this is by storing the brush in a fridge or freezer.
The low temperature will prevent the water from evaporating, and your paintbrush will be as good as new the next day. This method works so well because the cold temperature helps to preserve the paintbrush bristles and prevent them from drying out. Plus, it also stops the growth of mold and mildew, which can damage the brush bristles – just in case you plan to store the brush for a bit long.
How to Store Paintbrushes in a Fridge?
Once you know the logic behind storing paintbrushes in a fridge, let’s get into the details of how to use the strategy correctly.
Storing the brushes right will help you get up the next day and start with your project, with the same brush, you left the previous day in the middle of your paint job.
So, here’s what you need to do…
1- Leave the brushes dirty and full of paint
It’s best not to clean your paintbrushes too much before storing them in the refrigerator.
Thin layers of paint dry faster than thick layers, so by leaving a thick layer of paint on brushes, rollers, or pads before refrigerating them, you’re maximizing the time they can be stored.
That said, do not keep your painting tools dripping wet. Simply leave on a layer of what you would use when applying paint to ensure that the surface is still wet when you wrap it.
2- Choose the right packing wrap
Plastic wrap, a plastic bag, or aluminum foil can all be used to seal your equipment, but aluminum foil is the most efficient, in my opinion. Since it’s pliable, you can easily mold it around the bristles without damaging them.
If you need to keep your paint fresh for a day or two, feel free to pop your brushes or rollers into gallon-size Ziploc or resealable sandwich bags. Before sealing the bag, squeeze out as much air as possible.
3- Wrap the paintbrush tightly in aluminum foil
Tightly is the keyword here. You want to ensure that there is no air inside the wrapping so that the water will not evaporate.
Heavy-duty aluminum foil is perfect for this project because it creates an airtight seal and can mold to the shape of any brush or roller. If you’re worried about ripped foil in the fridge, double-wrap your tools to provide them the extra protection.
How Long Can You Keep the Paintbrush in Fridge?
By properly wrapping, storing, and chilling your paintbrushes, rollers, and pads, you can easily keep them ready for use the following day or more than a week later.
Some DIY enthusiasts have even found that their brushes are still usable months after being stored in the refrigerator. If you use rollers, though, it’s imperative to defrost them first; otherwise, the nap cover won’t be able to do its job correctly afterward.
A Few Extra Tips and Ideas When Putting a Paintbrush in a Fridge
If your paintbrush is too large for a standard storage bag, cut a small hole in the side for the handle and then use masking tape to block any airflow through the hole — or just continue using aluminum foil.
If you’re going to store your paint roller, it’s better to remove the cover so it will fit snugly in a bag. You can keep the handle on or off depending on if you wrap it in aluminum foil, but usually, taking it off makes for an easier fit in the fridge.
Paintbrushes in a Freezer or Fridge – What Will Work Better?
In short, put the paintbrushes in your refrigerator if you are working with water-based paints, and use a freezer for brushes with oil-based paints.
Some people store their paintbrushes with water-based paint in the freezer, but doing so is typically pointless. This might even harm some kinds of paintbrushes, causing them to become lumpy.
In my opinion, if you’re only out for a few hours or overnight, simply wrapping up your paintbrush or roller and leaving it on the counter (at room temperature) will be more than enough to keep it from drying out.
If you need to keep your painting tools ready to go for a day or two, however, it’s recommended that you put them in the fridge to extend the time they’ll stay fresh and usable.
You might think that freezing a paintbrush would make it last longer, but if you’re using water-based paint – which includes latex paint, acrylic paint, chalk, and milk paint – it’s best to avoid putting it in the freezer.
That’s because freezing damages the paint’s emulsification, meaning the ingredients will start to separate, which can cause the paint to become clumpy on the brush. When you use the same brush again, this type of separated paint will leave your job looking streaky, so it’s not worth the risk.
On the other hand, if you’re using oil-based paint – made with alkyd resins, solvents, pigments, and other ingredients – you can store your paintbrush in the freezer (freezing below 0 degrees Fahrenheit) without damaging the paint as it doesn’t harden on the brush.
Just be sure to wrap the brush tightly in plastic before putting it in the freezer, to prevent the bristles from becoming damaged by the cold temperature.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.