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Cleaning Oil Painting Brushes

What you’ll need

  • Your brush washing container (the one with artist quality odorless mineral spirits and a screen) You can make one by punching holes in the bottom of a salmon or tuna can with a nail. Place the tin open side down on a firm surface. Tap nail through all over the bottom of the tin. Place in a coffee can or other container (metal or glass) that has a lid. Fill over the can a couple of inches with odourless mineral spirits.

  • A sink with running water or water hose

  • Liquid Dish soap (Dawn is good)

  • Murphy’s Oil Soap

  • A baby food, or other small jar

  • Paper towels or old hand towel.

Step 1: Loosen up all the thick globby paint out of your bristles by using your brush washing container with the screen inside and odorless mineral spirits. The pigments of the paint will fall to the bottom of the jar. Do this and each step to all of the dirty brushes and lay them on a paper towel or old towel. It’s faster to do the cleaning in batches. in batches.

Step 2: Pour some of the liquid Murphy’s Oil Soap into the jar. You can also use the spray kind and spray some into your ball or jar.

Step 3: Swirl each brush around the smooth curved surface of the jar. Press down hard on the paint brush bristles without damaging the brush. Do this step to each brush and lay back on the paper towel.

Step 4: Squirt dish soap into the palm of your hand and swirl each brush around in the soap until the bristles are looking clean and soft. You won’t see any color coming off in your hand if they are truly clean.

Step 5: Rub the dish soap down the handle and around the ferrule (the metal part of the brush) to get it clean also. Then proceed to rinsing all the Murphy’s Oil Soap and the Dish Soap off the brush.

Step 6: Lay the brushes flat on a towel. Don’t set wet brushes upside down in a jar with the bristles pointed up. Water will settle into the glue inside the ferrule causing the bristles to loosen and fall out.

Photo from Rileystreet Art Supply

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