I’m about to show you something. If you’re a serial DIYer like I am, it may just change your life a little bit, especially if you’re a bit on the impatient side.
I’ve always hated cleaning paintbrushes after I’m done with them, so I’ve often either just bought really cheap brushes or let them get all hard and crunchy. I’d still try to use them after they were hard and crunchy, but that just never really worked too well and I would just get mad.
When my parents were here a few months ago, they helped me to paint the room we’re working on upstairs and when they were done, they did something really amazing: They cleaned my brushes up really really well! When I went to use them again, it was like paintbrush bristle heaven. They were so soft and pliable and I just really couldn’t go back.
Of course learning to be patient and take my time to clean the brushes properly just wasn’t an option, so I figured out a way to get the same results, but with no effort or time required. Sounds pretty good, right? Here’s what I came up with!
I’ve been using this method for about a month now and it works like a charm every time!
The first thing you need to do is get some kind of a container to stick your painty brush in. I use this old yogurt container. On a side note, this lime yogurt is insanely delicious and you should try it.
Fill your container up with some water. Hot or cold, it doesn’t matter. Just stick your brush in there and leave it. Walk away. Take a break. You’ve been working hard with all your painting! Leave it in there for a few hours or a few days. Really it’ll be just fine. Finish up cleaning it whenever you feel like it. Basically whenever you get tired of looking at the painty container sitting on your counter.
I should note that I’ve been mostly using this medium quality angled brush for this and it’s kept my brush in tip-top shape. I did try it with a really cheap utility type of paintbrush and it didn’t work so well for that. The metal on those ones seems to rust with this kind of exposure, so keep that in mind if you have a really special 50 cent paintbrush that you want to keep.
This is how it will look after soaking for a couple of days. You can see there’s still a line of crust where the paint dried a little more than it should have during the painting process. The secret is this: Once you break the seal of the crust, all the paint will be free to escape the confines of your paintbrush, and you too will be in soft paintbrush bristle heaven!
Get a little of whatever kind of soap you have near your sink. I used some hand soap. Rub it in a little.
The secret tool! A green scrubby! I wouldn’t suggest using your dishwashing scrubby for this, but if you have a dedicated cleaning one, like the one you use for removing orange water stains from your tub, that would work fine.
Rub the green scrubby over your brush, where the paint crust is, in a motion that runs down the bristles. The crust will just flake right off.
Rinse well! Now you have a sparkling clean brush with the softest bristles that you ever did experience! All that, and it really only took about 20 seconds of hard labour.
Well, OK, it doesn’t look clean. It’s a paintbrush, after all. But try it for yourself next time you’re faced with brush cleaning and see the magic!
Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.