How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes

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How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes

Good paint brushes can cost a lot of money. If you keep letting oil paint dry on them, the job or painting you are doing will not be worth it in the long run, because you will be replacing those paint brushes every time you start a new project.

Paint brushes come in all different sizes and hardness for different uses, but this article will teach you to clean oil base paint brushes so that you can reuse them whenever you want.

Before we begin showing you how to clean oil paint brushes, you need to know that most of the cleaning solvents for cleaning your paintbrush after a painting session or just painting your cabinets can be harmful to your body if you smell it for too long or pour it in the environment the wrong way.

Oil paint itself is toxic, but that’s just how the paint was made with the ingredient. Oil paint will be the hardest paint to remove and to clean period. If you want to be able to clean your paint brushes faster or not have to spend hours cleaning up an area if you over paint too far, just use water-base paint instead if you can.

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Caring For Your Paint Brushes

Caring for your paintbrush is just as important as cleaning it. And this will prevent you from having a dried-up paintbrush that costs a lot of money. Below will be a few tips and tricks that you can do to always make sure your paintbrush is in tip-top shape all the time.

1. Clean your paintbrush as soon as you are finished using it.

2. Lay your brush flat whenever you are drying it to prevent the bristles from bending and changing the shape of the brush.

3. Try to use oil paint that is mixed with water so that your brush is easier to clean or just use water base paints if you can.


How to clean oil Based Paint Brushes

Below will be the 4 different cleaning methods you can choose from to remove the oil from your paintbrush properly. Three of these methods don’t involve using paint thinner, so if you hate the smell of the paint thinner try the other cleaning methods.

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1. Using Baby Oil to Clean Paint Brush

When it comes to cleaning your paintbrush with baby oil, the first thing you should do is to ensure that every part of the brush with the bristles is covered in the baby oil. If you think the oil isn’t getting in-between the bristles, put on gloves and massage it in.

To clean the brush with the baby oil, continue to massage the oil into the brush ensuring that you push every painting at the top of the brush to the bottom of the bristle. Repeat this process until you are satisfied that you have gotten all the paint out. Wash the brush out in some fresh soapy water and lay it flat to dry.


2. Using Dish Soap on oily paint brush

adding dawn dish soap to water

Using dish soap on your oil paintbrush is a very controversial topic. Many people believe that the dish soap will damage the bristles on the paintbrush especially if the bristles are natural. Using too much dish soap on the paintbrush do can cause damage, but paintbrushes with natural bristles can be damaged easily.

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Not every dish soap is made equal, and if you use cheap dish soap on your paintbrushes, it will surely damage it. The best dish soap to use on your paint brush is dawn dish soap, this soap gets rid of grease quickly and easily and they advertise using this product on animals as well. So you know for sure it will be safe to clean your paintbrushes covers in oil.

To clean the oily brush with dawn dish soap, fill a container with enough water to cover the bristles on the brush, then add half a cup of dawn dish soap to the water. Mix it around then add the brush to it, let the brush sit in the cleaning solution for 20 minutes then you go back and wash the brush out gently until you see the color from the paint is gone along with the oil. Dry the brush with the drying method below.

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This is a link to a soap dedicated to cleaning paintbrushes ( Pink Soap Brush Cleaner And Conditioner )

3. How to Clean Oil Paint Brush With linseed Oil

Linseed oil has another name as well which is Flaxseed Oil, they both are the same. I know you might be surprised when you look in your pantry and see one of these names on your pantry selves because you are wondering if it was toxic for you since you can use it as a paint remover. Linseed oil is quite healthy for you if you consume it in the right proportions.

    Linseed Oil – { linseed oil is a yellowish oil that comes from dried, ripened seeds of a flax plant.

Using the linseed oil to clean your paintbrush is simple and easy and you can follow the same cleaning process as if you were using the baby oil.

4. How to Clean Oil Paint Brush with Solvent 

This is the first thing that comes to someone’s mind when they think about cleaning their oily paint brushes, leaving the paintbrush in paint thinner overnight. Paint thinners are used to thin out the paint for different uses like spraying or just to make the paint thinner to work with. They were not made to clean and wash out your paintbrush, but they can do it at a cost.

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You will be smelling and handling the paint thinner for a period of time longer than you should. To clean the oil paint brush with the thinner, put on a glove and fast mask and pour some in a small container that is enough to cover all the brush bristles until it reaches the top. Leave the paint brush in the thinner for 1 hour.

Use your fingers with the gloves on to wash out the paint that is in the brush. Try not to damage or bend the bristles during this process. Repeat washing the brush out with your hands until you see the color and the oil is all gone. Wash the brush out with some running water and lay it flat to dry.


How to Dry Your Paint Brush 

To dry your paintbrush properly without damaging the bristles. Lay the paintbrush flat on the side without any of the bristles bend. If you lay the paintbrush facing up, the water will run down and damage the wood by swelling it.

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Frequently asked questions

What do you clean oil paint brushes with?

Most cleaning solvents are toxic to humans, for example, paint thinners. You can use paint thinners to clean your oil paint brushes quickly but risk smelling the toxic chemical. The other options you can use that are much safer are baby oil and linseed oil.

How do You Clean Oil Paint Brush Without Paint Thinner?

Above in this article, I showed you three different ways to clean oil paint brushes which include using dawn dish soap, linseed oil, and baby oil. To clean the oil out of the brush, gently rub baby oil or linseed oil through the bristles and hair of the brush until you see the color of the paint is coming out. Once you repeat this process a few times, wash the paintbrush out with some dawn dish soap.

Can You Leave Oil Paint On Brushes Overnight?

Growing up as a kid I always see people leave their paintbrushes in water overnight. But over time I usually see the bristle bend and change the shape of the brush. It doesn’t matter what type of paint it is, it is not recommended to leave your paintbrush overnight.

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