Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Quick Tip for Cleaning Your Brushes

If you paint with acrylics, you know how hard it is to revive a nylon- or synthetic-bristle brush that was allowed to dry with paint still in the bristles. So it's important to clean your brushes thoroughly as soon as your painting session is finished. Here's a little secret: it's not necessary to use those pricey brush cleaners you see advertised in art supply catalogs. Instead, use Murphy Oil Soap, available at any grocery store. It costs a fraction of the price of those spendy cleaners, and a bottle of it will last for years.

Not only does this product do an excellent job at removing paint from the brush, it conditions the bristles at the same time. I've been using it to clean my brushes ever since I started painting. As a result I have brushes that still perform beautifully -- and look like new -- even now, 13 years after I bought them. They're my trusty workhorses; I paint with them all the time.

But wait! There's more! You can use Murphy Oil Soap to reclaim a dried out brush as well! (Obviously, the sooner you address the problem, the better. The longer you wait, the more difficult the job becomes.) Just suspend the brush over a small jar or other container filled with Murphy Oil Soap with the bristles fully submerged in the soap. It may take days of dangling in the soap for the bristles to become supple again, depending on the size of the brush and how much paint is on it. But eventually they'll soften enough to where you can work the paint particles out and rinse them away.

This rescue technique also works on house painting brushes caked with dried on latex paint. It just calls for a bigger container and a lot more Murphys.

©2014 Lynn Edwards

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