Whether you are an artist or amateur household painter, you will often encounter a common problem of a stiff paint brush and may be confused on how to care for it. Since brushes are expensive, frugality demands that you reuse them. How can you accomplish this is a matter of just a few precautions and a few remedial steps. So do not throw away your used stiff brush, since you can bring it back to life by simply following the easy steps described below.
Step 1 - Immersion in Lacquer Thinner
Dip the stiffened bristles of your paint brush in lacquer thinner for a couple of days. This will help in separating the paint covered bristles without spoiling their effectiveness.
Step 2 - Cleansing in Turpentine Oil
If it’s an oil paint brush clean it by twirling the bristles in a container of turpentine oil. Do not press the brush at the base of the container as this will either break the bristles or unravel them thus making them ineffective for further use. Twirling for a few minutes will remove the paint from the bristles. Now suspend the brush for sometime to check that no more paint color drips from it. Double a paper towel and dab dry the brush with it before reuse.
Step 3 - Cleansing in Soap Water
For a brush used for water based paint or latex paint, it is better to use soap water than any other cleaner. Commercial cleaners usually spoil the brush and make the bristles to whither and fall off. So take a container filled with water and add some liquid soap (dish washing soap is a better option). Shake to form foam. Now soak the brush in this soapy water, rotating it in egg beating motion, until the paint loosens and comes off. Now shift it in a container filled with clean water. If still some paint dissolves and changes the color of water repeat the soap water cleaning procedure again. As mentioned earlier never apply undue force and squash the brush at the base of the container. You can also rinse the brush under the faucet. While using the faucet hold the brush in bristle down position and avoid a strong gush of water. To check whether the paint is fully off the brush, dip it again in water after cleansing. Suspending for a while will help to drip dry the brush and make it ready for using again.
Step 4 - Preventive Measure
Once the brush is clean and dry store it in the protective cover available for brushes. To avoid stiffening of a brush used for water based paint, while working, wrap it in damp cloth if you have to discontinue work for a short while. This is particularly effective in hot and dry weather. Similarly for an oil paint brush, use a cloth soaked in paint thinner to wrap it.