How to clean paint brushes and remove even dried on oil or water-based paints from brushes and rollers 3 February 2022

Learn how to clean paint brushes to make them last a lot longer, and to prevent your garden shed from getting paint all over it! Sure, removing either dried or fresh paint off of your best paint brushes and rollers might not be the most fun task, but the results are rewarding and it will save you some cash on buying replacement tools too... Find out here how to get every last bit of paint off your brushes!


  • If you’ve used gloss paint, get as much of the brush and back into the tin as you possibly can. Fill an old glass jam jar with white spirit and put the brush in, pressing it against the sides to work the liquid into the brush.
  • Leave to soak for about three hours. Refresh the jar if necessary and work the brush around again (use a fresh jar of white spirit if needed) until the brush is nice and clean.
  • Remove and rinse the brushes under the tap. Dry with a clean cloth.
  • Do not pour the leftover white spirit down the sink. Leave it in the jar and allow the paint to settle in the bottom. Pour off the clear liquid into a container so it can be reused. Let the paint dry into a solid lump then dispose of it in the rubbish bin.
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  • When you’ve finished doing your painting, get as much paint as possible from the brushes into the tin using the edge of it. You can even work it into some scrap paper.
  • Get a bowl of hot soapy water and leave to soak for about three hours. Refill with soapy water and wash the brush or roller, working the paint out of the bristles with your fingers. Shake off the water and paint into the bucket.
  • Fill the bowl with water and rinse the brush and roller in it, again working any leftover paint out with your fingers. Shake off the excess. Repeat until the brushes look clean.
  • Dry the brushes on a clean cloth and store them.
  • See how to clean walls before you start on a fresh coat!


Yes, you can! So don't go throwing away pricey DIY or arts paint brushes just yet. If you've been using latex paint you shouldn't need to resort to such harsh cleaning agents as the acrylic paints will soften in warm water and dish soap.

Prepare some soapy water in a clean container and put the brush in it, submerging the bristles in the water. Work the bristles and then suspend again and let it soak for a half-hour or so. Use a stiff brush to rub along the lines of the bristles to remove the softened paint and rinse until the water runs clear. Repeat as many times as required.

For really stubborn dried on water-based paint you may have to resort to a paint thinner, followed by the warm soapy water method and it may take a couple of goes. Be sure to take precautionary measures when using paint cleaners as the fumes and vapour are flammable. Soak the bristles directly in a small can of thinner, keeping it out of reach of children, and covering the can as your paint brush soaks. Do this in a well-ventilated room for about thirty minutes or until you see the paint settle.


We've seen all sorts of tips for storing paintbrushes, from wrapping them in cling film (not very eco-friendly) to submerging them in a solvent (works only if you're pausing a DIY job for a couple of days). The method we swear by is simply wrapping your paint brushes in an old newspaper once they are completely dry, and securing them with rubber bands. Now they're ready to be stored in your garden shed ready for the next time you need them!

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