When I started painting 16 years ago, I dutifully bought the brush soaps offered through art supply stores and catalogs. These soaps worked well enough but were extremely pricey. I dirty a lot of brushes when I paint, so I found myself flying through those bottles of brush cleaner faster than a speeding Ferrari. Being thrifty by nature, I started searching for alternatives.
That's when I discovered Murphy Oil Soap. I had a huge bottle of it on hand for general cleaning so I decided to try it on my brushes. Eureka! It cleaned them just as well if not better than those expensive brush soaps. Worked well into the bristles, it cleaned them of acrylic paint with ease.
Then I learned I could raise the dead with Murphy Oil Soap. Not literally, of course. I'm speaking of dried out, paint encrusted brushes I had failed to keep wet. Suspending them in undiluted Murphy Oil Soap brings them back to life. Depending on the type of brush and the amount of dried paint in it, immersion can take anywhere from a day to a few weeks to be effective.
Artist brushes aren't the only brushes it restores. I've used it to clean and revive large house painting brushes with great success. This included a cherished nylon trim brush, loaned to and left out in the sun by a careless workman. The latex house paint clinging to its bristles was as hard as flint when I found it, but after several weeks in a "Murphy bath" the brush rinsed clean of paint and was good as new.
(Please note: I can speak to the use of Murphy's with acrylics and latex paints only. I've never used it with any other types of paint.)
Murphy Oil Soap won't break the bank, either. It's a real bargain compared to those "artist's" brush soaps. You can buy a 32 ounce bottle of it for under four bucks. Compare that to the "artists" products which often cost a dollar an ounce and up!
It's also readily available. You'll find it at big box stores, grocery stores, hardware stores...just about everywhere.
Just to be clear, I'm not being compensated in any way by Murphy, nor am I connected in any way to this company. I offer my commentary for the sole purpose of convincing fellow artists that it's not necessary to spend a bundle to make art. Often less expensive items can be substituted for "artists" products, without detrimental effect,. Murphy Oil Soap is one such product. Buy a big enough bottle and it might well last you the rest of your life!
©2017 Lynn Edwards