How to Clean Paint Brushes

Cleaning tips for paint brushes, whether you're using latex-, oil- or shellac-based paint.

Next Project

A few hours






Good paint brushes are worth the money, whether you're painting with latex, oil or shellac. Here's how the pros clean up their expensive paint brushes. Plus, we included some tips at the end for reviving your petrified paint brushes. 

Tools Required

  • Bucket
  • Jar
  • Paint brush comb
  • Paint brush/roller spinner
  • Paintbrush
  • Rags
  • Wire brush

Materials Required

  • Denatured alcohol
  • Household ammonia
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Newspaper
  • Paint thinner

A Good Paint Job Starts With a Good Brush

One expensive paint brush is way better than a handful of cheap brushes. Get a good nylon or polyester brush for painting with latex and a good natural (animal hair) bristle brush for oil paints. Don’t use a natural-bristle brush for water-based paints like latex. The natural fibers will swell, lose their shape and eventually lose their strength, too. If you can’t get the buying information you need from a home center or hardware store, go to a retail paint store for assistance.

Project step-by-step (14)

Step 1

Cleaning Water-based Finishes & Latex Paint From Brushes

Scrape Off Excess Paint

  • Use the rim of a can and then work some of the paint onto newspaper before cleaning in soapy water.

via family handyman

Step 2

Wash the Brush In a Pail of Soapy Water

  • Work the paint free of the bristles with your hands and a brush comb.