How to clean oil paint brushes

How to clean oil paint brushes: Best 4 steps

Oil painting deserves proper cleaning. So, how to clean oil paint brushes? If you have used such a question during an Internet search, you will definitely be interested in the article.

Oil painting is a favorite art form to millions of people all over the world. Perhaps one of the most favored characteristics of this method of painting is the feel of oil-based paint on a person’s hands and how it absorbs into the skin, unlike watercolors that easily washes away with just a little bit of water. But be warned — oil-based paint is not easy to get off your clothing and especially your hands! The trick is to know how to clean oil paint brushes in order to keep your brush, and everything else around you, stain-free.

Keep following the described steps.

Why should you clean your oil paint brushes?

You should clean your oil paint brushes regularly because, when you are not painting, you will keep them in your studio. If you do not clean your brushes, like the secret to the little jar on top of the easel, yellow and other colors degrading can build up and stain your studio. Of course, depending on the amount of painting and how often you clean your brushes this can be a gradual process or it can happen all at once.

How often should you clean your oil paint brushes?

The thing about cleaning your oil paint brushes is that like everything else, it depends. Some artists choose to clean their brushes every day, but if you are one who does not clean or changes your brushes as often as others then you may have to wait longer for them to stop staining. The best time to find out how long it takes for your oil paints to build up and start staining is when you clean your brushes after a week of not using them.

You should clean your oil paint brushes twice a week if you like to keep them in a jar on top of your easel so they can dry out. If you do not like to keep them in the jar, then once a month is good.

What are the tools you need?

There are many tools to clean oil paint brushes. Among them, you need the following 5 tools:

  1. Paper towel.
  2. Rubbing alcohol.
  3. Conditioner.
  4. Cotton balls soaked with rubbing alcohol.
  5. Water.

The paper towel should be soft, and less than 10 sheets of it should be used to clean each oil paint brush.

oil paint brushes
oil paint brushes

How to clean oil paint brushes: Step by step

Understand that the procedure is not a certain way, there are many things you can do.

First step: soak the brush in a jar of solvent.

This step is important because it takes away any oil-based matter on your brush.

It is very important to use warm water and a jar of solvent to soak your brush in. There are many solvents that clean oil paint brushes, but the best one is turpentine. When you choose the solvent, make sure it is odorless and evaporates when it dries. The soaking time should be from 5 to 10 minutes.

Wipe your brush on a paper towel after you take it out of the jar in order for any drops that remain on the brush to be wiped off.

Second step: wash out the solvent with soap and water.

Clean your brush with warm water and soap. Most artists use baby shampoo for this step, but if you feel like it is too gentle for you then you can use other soap or detergent. Make sure you do not get soap on your brush.

When you are done washing the solvent off of your brush, rinse it with warm water and make sure you let it dry completely.

Third step: let the brushes dry naturally and reshape them while they are still damp.

Wait until the solvent dries completely on your brush, and you can reshape the brush.

If you follow these steps daily, your brushes will not get much of a yellow look to them. Do not let that one article on cleaning oil paint brushes stop you from continuing to paint, though! Contact us if you have questions or need more help.

Fourth step: oil your brush to keep it soft and supple!

This is the last step. Now your brushes are clean, but that does not mean that you have to stop using them. Just as you oil paint canvases, you should oil your brush. It is advisable to only do this once a year; however, if your brush is starting to get stiff or hard, then it would be wise to oil it immediately.

If you take care of your brushes properly, they will last for a very long time… longer than your painting career!

How to clean paint brushes: Best 5 Tips From Experts

How to dry your oil paint brushes!

You can clean your oil paint brushes with a hairdryer. When you do this, you will be able to clean your brushes in a shorter time. You should not dry your brushes with a hairdryer for too long; otherwise, the bristles will break off.

How to clean oil paint off brushes without paint thinner.

There are many ways to clean oil paint off brushes, including hot soapy water, turpentine, gasoline, and paint thinner.

Many people choose to use turpentine. However, it is a smelly solvent that you should not use in an enclosed space. Try painting with cheaper oil paints instead of expensive ones to avoid the need for solvents.

How to clean oil paint brushes between colors.

One way to clean your oil paint brushes is by cleaning them between colors. There are two ways to do this type of cleaning:

  1. Wipe your brush on a paper towel after one color to remove any excess paint, and then start painting with a different color.
  2. Clean your brush thoroughly, wait for the solvent to dry, and then use the new paint.

The first method is easier because you do not actually need to go through all the steps of cleaning your brush with turpentine or mineral spirits.

The second method is more time-consuming, but it is better because it takes care of all the oil paints on your brushes.

How to clean oil paint brushes with turpentine

Turpentine is used for removing oil paints and for keeping the brush shape. It does not damage the brushes; however, it leaves them smelling strongly of turpentine and can be dangerous in small areas because it evaporates very quickly.

How to clean oil paint brushes with Gamsol.

Gamsol is a very useful solvent that keeps oil paint brushes soft. It evaporates very quickly, so you do not want to use it in small areas. You can buy this at any hardware store or drug store.

How to clean oil paint brushes with mineral spirits.

Mineral spirits is another solvent that makes you brush good as new, which is just what your oil painting needs! There are many brands of mineral spirits, but most have the same ingredients: 100% alcohol, thickener, and natural mineral oils. It is good to buy a brand of mineral spirits that are scented with vanilla extract. It will leave your brush smelling good and give it that extra little oomph! The bottles are 500 ml (1 pint), 1 liter (4 pints), and 5 liters (16 pints).

This old method works by cleaning the paint in turpentine and then wiping it off very gently with an old washcloth. This way you can use the other methods of cleaning described earlier on this page.

How to clean oil paint brushes with linseed oil.

Linseed oil is the best way to keep your brushes soft, supple, and flexible. When you use linseed oil, you should not let it dry on your brush as it can crack the handle. You do not want that to happen! If you wipe your brush on a paper towel after using linseed oil, that will be enough to remove any excess and keep your brush from drying out too quickly.

Useful tips on how to clean oil paint brushes.

If you have paint on your hands while you are cleaning your oil paint brushes, then it is best to wear some rubber or flexible gloves.

Clean your oil paint brushes as soon as possible after using them. If you wait too long, the pigment can dry in the bristles and will be very hard to clean out.

Never clean oil paint brushes with thinner. It will dry out your brush and leave it useless for longer than necessary.


Like most hobbies, the painting comes with its own set of tools. While having the right equipment for the job is important, it’s just as crucial to keep your art supplies in good working order. By following these tips, you’ll be able to clean your oil paint brushes quickly and efficiently so that you can get back to creating beautiful works of art!

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