Victory Points
The Care & Feeding of Your Paintbrush

Joe Perez | 23 Dec 2014 13:00
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Cleaning your brushes

To the average person, cleaning your brushes is rinsing them in water and then setting them to dry. Whether natural hair or synthetic, your brushes need to be properly cleaned, as acrylic paint can be very hard on them. Properly cleaning them will add months, or even years, to the life of your brush and help protect your investments. To accomplish this, you will need a couple of items. First thing you're going to need is two cups of clean warm water. It doesn't have to be a whole lot of it, but enough to dip your brush in. You want to make sure that this is clean water and not from the cup you were using to rinse your brush in while painting. The next item you will need is brush soap. There are a lot of options available to you when it comes to brush soap and it can come in either bar form or liquid soap. My recommendation is the ones that come in the bar soaps. My top choice tends to be Master's Brush Cleaner, a relatively inexpensive soap that not only removes even the most caked in paint but also has a mild conditioner that keeps the brush hairs from drying out and becoming brittle. You can pick small jars or bars of this at your local craft store or online, and you can pick up a 2.5oz container for well under $10USD. It may not sound like much, but a little bit will last you far longer than you would expect.

Once you have your brushes, soap and water ready to go, it's time to get started on the actual cleaning. First thing you want to do is give your brushes a good rinse in one of the cups, being careful not to submerge it past the ferrule. Once this is done, you will want to take the still damp brush to the container of brush soap. You will want to draw the brush over the surface of the cleaner just like you would if you were painting a miniature, turning the brush to make sure gently work the cleaner throughout the brush. You want to be careful not to bend the fibers too hard or you can risk deforming the brush, just take your time. You will notice that a little bit of a lather starts to build on the brush, and that's exactly what you want. After that you will take the brush over to the second cup of water, give it a rinse and a shake in the cup, and then go back to the soap. The number of times you will need to do this will depend entirely on how much paint you've got on the brush, but if you're diligent you can bring back to life even some of the most neglected brushes with this cleaner.

Once your brush is completely clean, give it one last dip in the water and then use a paper towel or cloth towel to take off the excess water and then draw the brush very lightly over the cleaner, twisting it as you pull it across the surface to get a light coating, but you are not going to rinse the brush this time. Then take your clean hands, and you want to make sure they are clean hands, and form the tip of your brush using your fingers to remove any excess cleaner. Now, again, the good thing about this cleaner is that it has a conditioner in it, so leaving just a little bit in your brushes between uses is a good thing. After your brushes have been cleaned, you're ready to set them to dry and get ready for storage until the next time you use them.

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