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Thread: How do you clean paint brushes - oil based paint?

  1. #1
    Engineer chassis's Avatar
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    Default How do you clean paint brushes - oil based paint?

    I've been painting some trim with oil based (alkyd) paint. Cleanup is always something of a pain. The way I do it is to pour some turpentine on the brush and work the paint gradually out, using a paper towel. I repeat this about 4 times, then repeat twice using dry paper towels with no turps. Works pretty good. This is done over the kitchen sink.

    The other option is to hang the brush in a coffee can filled with turps. But I have a habit of forgetting about the brush and it stays in the can for 6 months or so.

    Is there another, easier way to clean oil based paint from brushes, besides hanging them in a coffee can? I would like to do my painting, clean the brush, then hang it up to dry. That way I don't have to remember anything in 6 hours, 6 days or 6 months.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Hanging in a can of cleaner is not good for the brushes. It's OK for about an hour if you have to , but longer is not good for th bristles or the ferrule area.


    Washing by hand the way you do is the method. A brush comb is indispensible to get all the paint out of the upper regions. A few rinses in the mineral spirits, then a quick soap and water wash, rinse, then I carefull fold the brush up in a wrap of paper towels. Leave that overnight to dry, then take off the damp towel and rewrap with dry paper towels for storage. I store them this way FLAT, carefully so the bristles are not scrunched.

    If I am painting things where speed is important, and quality of the finish doesn't matter...fences, outdoor furniture, whatever, I just use the chepeast disposable nylon or china bristle brushes I can find, and dont waste time and money on trying to clean them. BUT, for important work...window sashes, panel doors, etc, there is NO subsitute for the BEST brush you can buy, and I take better care of these brushes than I do my own hair!

  3. #3
    Engineer chassis's Avatar
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    jimbo,

    Thanks. For oil based paint, I normally use Purdy black china bristle brushes. I believe that water washing is not recommended because the natural bristle fibers will absorb the water and ruin the brush. Maybe I am not right with this, but that is my understanding. For latex, I use Purdy nylon brushes.

    I'll keep with the method of manual cleaning with turps for oil based paints. Was hoping there was an easier and better method!

    p.s. I hang my brushes vertically on pegboard above my workbench to keep the bristles straight.

  4. #4
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    You're right about water being bad for natural bristles. I believe that Purdy says it's ok to do a quick soap and water wash to get out the solvent, but actuall on bristle brushes, I use mineral spirtits then a brush cleaner from Jasco or Frazee. These are a little bit of a luxury if you paint for a living, which I do not, and I am willing to spend the bucks to protect my good brushes. I consider myself about average in painting skill, but I have this one Frazee 2" angled sash brush.....that sucker will cut in a line on a window sash like it has a mind of it's own. That brush is probably 16 years old, and like I said, I take care of it, and NOBODY gets to use that one but me!

  5. #5

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    I prefer mineral spirits to turpentine; smells less.
    Also, you don't need to wash btn coats.
    Seal the brush (or roller) in a ziplock. Squeeze out as much air as possible.
    It'll keep fresh for a week+.

    Ever tried a paint spinner? You fit a roller or brush into it, hold it in a 5gal bucket and pump the handle. It spins out the paint pretty quickly.
    (important note: I'm not a pro)

  6. #6
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Paint spinners are great for roller covers; when the water spins off clear, put the cover in a Ziploc bag and write the name of the paint/color on the bag with magic marker.

    Ain't no substitute for elbow grease for brushes, IMHO.

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