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Are you tired of throwing away paintbrushes? Recently I was cleaning my craft room and found paintbrushes with old paint on them. I’d like to blame the kids for this but it’s likely my fault too. They were bad enough that I knew I was either going to be buying new brushes or this vinegar paintbrush cleaner was going to work. One way or the other I was going to have clean brushes by the end of the day.
I do want to say, these were not expensive paintbrushes, they were going in the trash if this method didn’t work. If you’re trying to clean high-quality brushes please test this on one first and make sure it doesn’t ruin the brush.
What is the Best Way to Clean Paint Brushes?
Today I am going to teach you how to clean old, dried, water-based paints off paintbrushes.
For the best results, every time, I would tell you to clean paint brushes before the paint dries by running them under hot water. Next, allow them to air dry on a paper towel. Not allowing the paint to dry on the brushes in the first place makes the cleaning process really easy.
If you’re not done with your painting projects but need to take a break place the paintbrush in a plastic bag to keep it from drying out. This little trick is a lifesaver!
If you’re dealing with dry paint move on to the next step.
Removing Dry Paint from Paintbrushes
If your paint has dried onto your paintbrush I would begin by soaking the brushes in clean water, warm water is best. You can do this in a bowl or even a glass jar. This will help soften the hardened paint and make the next steps easier.
How to Use White Vinegar to Clean Paintbrushes
While the brushes are soaking, pour some white vinegar into a small pan and bring it to a boil. You want to make sure the vinegar is deep enough to cover the paint brush bristles completely.
After the brushes have soaked for a while use a paper towel to remove any excess water and any paint that is already coming off and then place them in the boiling vinegar.
I recommend keeping the vinegar at a simmer with the brushes for about 20 minutes. Please, don’t leave them alone during this time. If the vinegar all evaporates away you could end up with ruined brushes or worse, a fire.
When the time is up, rinse the brushes under warm water. Any paint on the bristles and handles should come off easily with your fingers.
If the paint isn’t rinsing off easily, remove the vinegar from the heat source and allow the brushes to soak in the hot vinegar longer. You may find this necessary if you’re dealing with stubborn paint or a really stiff brush.
How to Finish Cleaning Paint Brushes
Now that we’ve soaked the paintbrushes in vinegar and rinsed the paint off the last thing to do is allow them to dry.
For my paintbrushes, I rinsed them really well in my kitchen sink and then laid them flat on a paper towel to dry overnight. I used my fingers to shape the bristles back into place and by the next morning, I had soft, dry, clean bristles on all of my little paintbrushes.
I will say, the bristles on some of them were stained from the paint sitting on them for so long. That didn’t seem to transfer to my next project.
With all of these clean brushes, I’m ready for my next painting session and didn’t have to buy a new paintbrush this time!
Final Thoughts on Vinegar Paintbrush Cleaner
I am so glad I gave this paint brush soak a try. My kids (and I) can be hard on paintbrushes. Replacing them every time we want to paint feels like such a waste of money. This is a great way to lengthen the life of paintbrushes.
The best part is that it’s easy. I love that with this brush cleaner, there are no harsh chemicals. It also doesn’t take a lot of time or hard work. While it’s a good choice to tackle dirty paintbrushes before you’re dealing with dried paint now you know how to clean your brushes even after the paint dries.
I do want to add that, depending on the quality of your paintbrush the hot vinegar may dissolve the adhesive that holds the
Will the vinegar paintbrush cleaner work on oil-based paint?
I don’t think it will. I haven’t personally tried it but I believe there are different ways to clean oil-based paint.
Make sure to wear gloves if you try these options. I’ve heard you want to use something like mineral spirits, paint thinner, or other solvents to remove oil-based paint.
I would also recommend you keep your acrylic paint brushes and your oil paint brushes separate. This will make cleaning them easier as you use them for a different paint job.
Can I use apple cider vinegar to clean paintbrushes?
I’m sure you can. I haven’t tried it myself. You may need to let them soak longer than if you were using straight vinegar. But I think it would work.
Will this method work on chalk paint?
Yes! Chalk paint is a water-based paint. That means if you allowed your paint to dry on your brush you can use this method to clean it. I do think chalk paint especially cleans out of bristles really easily with a little warm soapy water.
Can I use the vinegar paintbrush cleaner on sponge paintbrushes?
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it. I haven’t had the best luck trying to clean those sponge brushes. The boiling hot vinegar would break them down even more than hot water would, I think.
I hope you’ve found this helpful and that we’ve answered any questions you have about the vinegar paintbrush cleaner. If you have any additional questions feel free to leave them in the comments and we’ll get those answered for you!
And, if you didn’t know, Vinegar is one of my favorite cleaning supplies. I use it in the laundry room, especially on stinky towels and it’s great on windows and floors!
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