Paintbrushes are an essential part of many creatives’ tool kits and can often be quite pricey (especially the high quality ones). In order to help you make your brushes last as long as possible, we’ve put together some tips and tricks to help you look after them! Clean and cared-for brushes retain their shape and strength so it is definitely worth the extra time and effort.
Try to clean your brushes as soon as you are done using them. While letting your brushes sit in water or solvent will help keep the paint or ink from drying between the bristles, it will still allow a buildup of pigment over time. To avoid this, you should aim to clean your brushes as soon as possible.
Before you begin the process of cleaning your brushes, gently wipe off excess paint or ink onto a lint-free cloth. The next step is to use a soap or cleaning solution to clean through the bristles of the brush. There are many options available – from soap bars to liquid solutions to solvents. Varnish and oil paint brushes should be cleaned with the appropriate solvent (usually a white spirit) or specialty cleaner, while watercolour and acrylic brushes can be cleaned with soap and water. Some products such as Biozest can be used to clean both oil and acrylic brushes.
If your brushes have started to splay – i.e. the bristles are no longer holding their original shape – here are some nifty tips for you:
- After cleaning your brushes well, you can dip them into either hot water for synthetic brushes or a sugar-water solution for natural hair brushes
- Synthetic brushes can be dipped into hot water a few times and you should start to notice the bristles coming back together again
- Natural hair brushes can be dipped into a sugar-water solution (about one to two teaspoons of sugar dissolved into a cup of water)
- Don’t leave the brush sitting against the bottom of the cup as this could further damage the bristles
- Once you have taken your brush out of the solution, reshape it and leave it to dry flat (or even better – hanging with the bristles pointing downward
Brushes can last a long time if looked after – so treat them well and with care. Leave brushes to dry flat or hanging bristle end down, and if you need to pack them away in a container make sure there are ventilation holes so that your brushes don’t get moldy!