Brush Cleaning Tutorial
by Larry ‘djinn24’ K.
with information from


Here are the ins and outs of ‘Brush Maintaince 101‘. The most important part of maintianing your brushes is to ensure that you know what you are working with. Some brushes need to be soaked in warm water before you use them. Others need to be wetted often, some need to be rinsed out every so often.  Regardless of what type you use, you need to properly maintain your brushes and take care of them.

One of the most important parts is to ensure that you do not let paint that soaks up into the Ferrule. One way of doing this is to make sure you do not dip your brushes into the paints farther then you need to. This will cause paint to soak into the ferrule and that can cause the bristles to splay apart, ruining the point on the brush.  Normal use of a brush will cause some paint to be leached into the ferrule.  Part of this tutorial will also teach you how to remove that paint.

Another improtant thing with a brush is not to allow them to sit in water or any other substance on their tips. This can also ruin the tip on a brush and if you leave them in the water to long, water will being to soak into the handle, once this happens the brush is ruined as the Ferrule will not sit properly and the bristles will not be held in place properly.

OK lets not say you properly care for your brushes and do not allow them to sit on their brustles and try your best to keep paints from getting into the ferrule, every now and then you must clean your brushes. Depending on the type of brush you own (synthetic or natural or blend) depends on what type of cleaners to use. I personally find one that is good for synthetic and natural brushes.









Here is a sample of the cleaners I use.  I actually will use all three when cleaning a brush depending on how dirty the brush is. I will normally start with Dawn or some other dish soap and use it to wash as much of the paint from the brush as I can.

How To Use “The Masters”® Brush Cleaner


The Best Cleaner

“The Masters”® removes oils, acrylics, watercolors, stains, and varnishes. And it helps prevent paint build-up in the ferrule. It also prevents the hardening and build-up so common with today’s acrylic paints. “The Masters”® works beautifully on the finest sable and bristle brushes, and it makes painting with nylon and synthetic brushes a snap. It conditions the brush to hold more color and helps lay down a smoother more even flow. Use “The Masters”® after every session to keep your brushes like new.

The Best Preserver

“The Masters”® was formulated in conjunction with a cosmetic laboratory to help condition and preserve your brushes with the same care and thought as products that you use on your hair. It keeps your brushes like new so they’ll retain the same natural snap and luster – for consistent performance – as the day you bought them.

The Best Restorer

Don’t throw away old brushes with dried-on oil paint, no matter how hard the bristles are. “The Masters”® restores old, stiff brushes to like new condition. Simply wet with water, swirl, lather and let brush sit a while before rinsing. Repeat process until all the paint is removed. Your brushes will be reconditioned and you will have a new old brush.

For Cleaning

1. Wipe brush to remove excess paint.
2. Wet brush and/or “The Masters”® with water.
3. Swirl brush in “The Masters”® and work into a lather.
4. Rinse with clean water.
5. Repeat if necessary until brush is clean (lather will be white). You can clean one color after another without removing the previous colors from “The Masters”® first.

For Preserving

1. Clean brushes as above
2. Leave clear lather on bristles, shape and allow to dry.
3. Shake powder off bristles when ready to use again.

For Restoring

1. Clean brush as above, but use hot water.
2. Allow lather to remain on bristles for a few minutes.
3. If necessary, tap bristles on hard surface to work paint out.
4. To clean paint from ferrule, allow lather to remain on the bristles for several hours, and repeat cleaning process.
5. Leave clear lather on bristles, shape, and allow to dry. on Vimeo

Used under ‘Fair Use’. Copyright of the original owner is not contested

Please note, that sadly, two brushes were harmed in the making of this tutorial.

Edit: A brush holder. I was going to go buy one but remembered all the art stores in the area who would have them are closed today. So instead of getting upset, I made one. These things are normally not to badly priced but this one was even cheaper then that.





All I used was a piece of one inch foam I have laying around, pushed the handles through, and made sure they sat in the glass properly. Do not allow them to soak more then 20ish minutes at a time. Between soakings make sure you you let them dry lying flat.

That is gunk from the bristles









I will then use another, harsher brush cleaner to remove the deep in paints. They make a brush cleaning holder which I am planning on buying soon. It holds the brush tip down in the cleaning solution without allowing the tip of the brush to touch the bottom. A rule of thumb is to let it soak about 1/3 of the ferrule in. You can then use paper towels to leech the paint from under the ferrule.



Once I have removed as much of the paint as I have been able to I use a conditioner to clean and shape the brush, lay it flat and let it dry.