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Care of your brushes

Looking after your brushes properly can extend their life. Even cheap brushes can benefit from a simple care routine and last a very long time.

In general, never leave your brushes, bristle down in water or turps etc. as this distorts the bristles. When I first started painting I lost some brushes because they had lost their form.

When drying your brushes ensure they are flat. Once they have dried then they can be stored bristle up. If they are not dry, moisture seeps down into the furrule, the metal part of the brush that holds the bristles in place which can rust or in the case of wooden handles, rot the wood.

In the roll below, there is an assortment of brushes that are used regularly for all sorts of mediums. An example of the benefit of brush care is the brush on top of the roll, it is approximately 10 years old. It is one of my favourite go to brushes.

Here is my simple care routine:

Oil Painting Brushes

Initially, clean the brush using turps and a paper towel, wiping from the base of the bristle to the tip. Once the majority of the oil paint is removed, I put it in a product called "Incredible Brush Cleaner". You can buy this product from any art and stationery supplier. I have a limited budget so I put a small amount of cleaner in a resealable jar, enough to cover the bristles to the ferrule and leave the brush to soak. This not only cleans the brush, but conditions the bristles as well. There are many cleaners on the market and any of them seem to work well, but are usually one use only. I find the Incredible Brush Cleaner can be reused for months by just topping up the resealable jar as required. From my experience the cleaner seems to support the bristles while they are being soaked. Once the brushes have soaked, this can be for an hour or even days if needed, rinse them in cold or warm water, running the bristles over your hand from the base to the tip. Dry thoroughly with absorbent cloth or paper towels. Dry them flat.

Acrylic Paint Brushes

The care routine is the same as oil paint except, use water instead of turps to clean out the paint.

What do I do when I have paint dried on brushes?

If paint is left to dry on brushes - especially oil paint it makes then un-useable. The Incredible Brush Cleaner can bring them back to life although it may take time and repeating the process several times for this to happen. Definitely leave the brush to soak in the cleaner for a longer period of time.

A lot of people use dish washing liquid, which is an effective way to clean the brush but it doesn't condition the bristles to bring them back to their supple original form.

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