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Tips on Cleaning Paint Brushes

Aug 17, 2007
Sometimes paint brushes can be hard and cannot be used after once or twice using. There are some tips on cleaning the paint brushes, so they are ready whenever you use them.

GOOD PAINT BRUSHES (and a poor one can really botch a job) are expensive and deserve proper care. Put them away clean. The time to clean them is right after you finish using them. If the paint hardens even a little, the cleaning job will be more difficult and, if the brush is left to another day, you may never be able to reclaim it.

SOME TIPS ON CLEANING PAINT BRUSHES: first, there are many kinds of paintbrush cleaners on the market, and also equipment intended to keep brushes soft and conŽditioned for a job that is to be resumed the next day. Some of these cleaners are designed for neglected, paint-hardened brushes that might be worth saving, and you may want to inŽvestigate them. Otherwise you will consider the thinner used in the paint or varnish that you are using with a particular brush, because that is the agent that will clean the brush best when the painting job is done. For brushes used with rubberŽized and synthetic resin paints, which are thinned with water, you would use warm water with a good detergent. Work out as much of the paint as you can on a clean newspaper before you clean the brush. If washed immediately these brushes are easily cleaned. When the brush is thoroughly clean and you have shaken out as much of the water as possible, wrap a clean piece of paper around the bristles, leaving just the tip of the brush exposed, snap a rubber band around it, and hang the brush up to dry-bristles down. When you want to use the brush again the bristles will be straight and even, without those troublesome side whiskers that stick out and daub bits of paint in the wrong places. If you can't hang the brush up (and why can't you?) at least lay it flat; never stand it on its bristles. And never leave a brush you propose to clean soaking in water. Such a course may loosen the bristles.

BRUSHES USED WITH OIL PAINTS, varnishes, and enamels mixed with turpentine should be cleaned with turpenŽtine; those for paints and varnishes thinned with denatured alŽcohol are cleaned with denatured alcohol; lacquer brushes with "lacquer thinner," or acetone. And so on. The can of paint will have printed instructions that will tell you what solvent has been used so you can scarcely go wrong if you read the directions. After cleaning your brush in the proper solvent, wash it thorŽoughly with a detergent and water, rinse, wrap, and hang it up, as described. The solvent used for cleaning can be saved and used again for this purpose, or as a thinner for future paint jobs. Stopper it tightly. Most of the paint dissolved in the solvent will settle in time to the bottom, leaving the fluid clear.

NYLON PAINT BRUSHES are sensitive to alcohol and should never be used for applying shellac or cleaned with deŽnatured alcohol.

GARDENING EQUIPMENT can be localized in a corner of the basement, perhaps near the outside door for convenŽience. A row of clip-type holders, of the sort sometimes used for brooms or mops, can be fastened to a convenient wall to hold rakes, hoes, sickles, sharpeners, and other garden tools so that you can find them easily when they are needed. The clips will secure them in an upright position, off the floor, so they won't all slide down when you are attempting to extract what you need from a jumble of tools. And you will be able to sweep the floor without having to move them.

When you clean the old brush which been used, you can use the paint brush cleaner available on the market, thinner will also do. Use the turpentine to clean the brush with the oil paints, varnishes and enamels mixed with turpentine. You can wash it with detergent and water after cleaning the brush with the proper solvent.
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