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Dr Dulux: How To Clean and Look After Paint Brushes

Prolong the life of your brushes by performing effective paint brush care with Dulux's how to guide. Learn more about how to clean and look after your brushes.


Redecorating? Refurbishing? Or just touching up some paintwork? Whatever jobs you’re doing around the house, prevent your DIY projects from becoming costly by keeping your tools in good shape so you can use them time again.

Paint brushes are like any other DIY tool: unless you clean them properly, they won’t do their job as well as they should. The sooner you clean your paint brushes after you’ve finished with them, the better. But if you don’t have time to clean them right away, avoid letting them dry out and attacking them with a wire brush to get the pesky paint off. Yes, it will help remove the dried paint from the tips of the bristle, but it will also knock off the flag (splits) at the end of the bristles, and you don’t want that.

So that’s what not to do, now let’s look at what you should do to keep your paint brushes in top condition.


Top tip: You don’t need to clean your paint brushes if you’re going to use them again the next day. Just wrap the bristles in clingfilm to prevent the paint from drying out.


Are you using the right paint brushes?

Before you start, make sure you’re using the right paint brush with the right paint. Doing so will not only give you a much better result, but will prevent any damage to the brushes, too. Here’s what you need to know about the different brushes available:

Natural hair brushes: These are the best quality brushes and are ideal for oil-based paints.



Synthetic hair brushes: These are tougher than natural hair brushes as they’re made from polyester or nylon. While they’re cheaper, be aware that their bristles can fall out while you’re painting.


Flagged brushes: Only use this type of brush if you’re painting with latex. The bristles have split ends which help retain more paint on the brush and leave fewer marks on the wall.


So that’s your tools sorted. Now let’s take you through how to look after them with expert cleaning tips from Dr Dulux.


Dr Dulux’s guide on how to clean paint brushes

Step 1: Squeeze you brushes against the edge of the paint tin to release as much excess paint as possible, then wipe off as much paint as you can using a cloth or newspaper, taking care not to damage the bristles.


Step 2: Did you use water-based paint? Then water is all you’ll need to clean your paint brushes. So as not to stain your sinks, simply fill a container with warm water and leave your brushes to soak for about two hours.


Step 3: Did you use solvent-based paint? Then you’ll need to add a small amount of solvent-based cleaner to a container and work the brush against the sides to get the cleaner into the base of the bristles. Again, leave to soak for about two hours.


Step 4: After their two-hour soak, grab a dry clean cloth to wipe your brushes down and store in a cool, dry place for future use.


Top tip: Don’t pour solvents down the sink! Cover the container you used and leave for 24 hours. Once the paint has sunk to the bottom, tip the remaining solvent cleaner into the bottle for future use, and the remaining paint back into the tin.


Now you know how to clean paint brushes correctly, Dr Dulux can also help you with how to store your tools and paint so that you can reuse them time again.


Dr Dulux’s tips on how to store paint brushes and paint

Tip 1: Always store paint brushes upright (with the bristles pointing upward), that way there will be no weight on top of the bristles to damage them.


Tip 2: If you have less than half a tin of left-over paint, transfer it into an airtight container that’s just big enough to hold what’s left. Jam jars or plastic containers will work.


Tip 3: To make sure your container is super airtight, put clingfilm between the can or container lid to act as an extra seal, then store the can or container upside down to prevent air from entering.


Tip 4: Store paint anywhere that’s cool and dry - ideally raised off the ground or away from walls to avoid them coming into contact with any extreme temperatures, hot or cold.


Top tip: Don’t forget to label the paint tin or container with the colour that’s inside in case you need to top up in the future!


Before you go…

If you have any leftover paint – especially primary colours like red, yellow, green and blue – have a go at mixing your own unique shades. It’s easier than you might think. From creating lighter colours by adding white, to adding brown for a moodier, more atmospheric look, you’ll find lots of ideas in our simple guide to mixing colours.

Alternatively, if you’ve got left-over paint you know you’re not going to need, here’s a way to do something great with it. Donate it to people in your community who would love to use it in their projects. Find out how, here.


While Dr Dulux puts together his handy guides to help you get the best results from your DIY projects, some jobs can be tricky and worth leaving to the professionals. Just make sure that when you choose a decorator, they’ve been assured to do a great job for you through vetting process such as the Dulux Select Decorators assessment.


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