Painting is one of the many joys of life. And paintbrushes are a key factor in the process. To help increase the life of your paintbrushes, check out this informative article on how to clean acrylic paint brushes.

The mind of an artist is a mysterious thing. As an artist you never know when inspiration will strike. But what is the point of a creative idea if you don’t have the tool to execute it? To create an artistic piece you must have your paints and brushes at hand. But if you don’t clean your brushes, you will render them useless for your next inspiring moment.

If you enjoy working with Acrylic Paints, then you must be aware of the benefits of using them. One of the biggest bonus points for artists is the number of substrates acrylic paints are compatible with. From canvas to glass to metal, you can use acrylics to create a masterpiece. Another plus point is the durability of acrylic colors. Unlike watercolors, acrylics are not prone to fading over time. This makes them an attractive option among artists trying to sell their pieces.

While you may have brilliant ideas about what to paint next, you can’t paint anything if your brushes are caked with acrylics from your previous painting sessions. A worker is nothing but incomplete without the proper tools. And you can’t have any tools left if you don’t take care of them. So, to avoid losing your acrylic paintbrushes make sure you clean them after every use.

Unlike other paints, acrylic colors are quick to dry. And once they dry, you can kiss your brushes goodbye. If you don’t want to feel guilty about having to throw away your paintbrushes, clean them before the acrylics dry. Here is a compilation of tips on how to clean acrylic paint brushes.

How to Clean Acrylic Paint Brushes while Painting

Since it isn’t good to allow acrylic paints to dry on your paintbrushes, you need to keep them clean while painting. It isn’t as tough as having to remove dry acrylic paint, so we suggest you make this a habit. All you must do is,

  • Keep a cup or glass of water near your workstation. It should be in your field of vision and reach so you remember to clean the brushes.
  • While painting, you must avoid getting paint in the ferrule- the metal base where the bristles are attached. If paint reaches the ferrule swirl the brush in your water cup.
  • Blot and lay the wet brush down on a paper towel as you work.
  • Don’t let the paint sit bristle side down in the water. This will damage the brush and reduce its life.

How to Clean Acrylic Paint Brushes after Painting

If you followed the golden tip of not letting acrylic paint dry, then this shouldn’t be a difficult process. There are one of two cleaning processes you can follow.

Soap & Water

All you need is some soap and cold water. The water must be cold and not warm. Warm water will cause the paint to set on the bristles of your precious brushes. Follow these easy steps,

  • Take your damp brush and sweep its tip over a bar of soap, or swish it in some liquid soap.
  • Gently squeeze out the paint from the bristles
  • Place the clean brush flat on a paper towel to dry

Dish soap & Oil

For this, you can use any oil available to you. Follow these steps to clean your brushes,

  • Mix equal parts olive oil and dish soap
  • Swish your brush in the mixture, coating each side of the brush
  • Rinse it in a cup of water until the bristles become clean
  • Finally, rinse them in another cup with clean water
  • Lay the brush on a paper towel to dry

How to Clean Dried Acrylic Paint off Brushes

Like most of the artist community, you likely forgot to clean your brush. Now your precious brushes are cacked with dried acrylic paint and you don’t know what to do. It is possible to remove dried acrylic paint if you are willing to put in some effort. Some tricks you can try are listed below.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol, is an efficient solvent when it comes to cleaning. When it comes to cleaning dried acrylic paint brushes, this must be your first choice. Here is how you can clean your paintbrushes using rubbing alcohol,

  • Fill a container with rubbing alcohol
  • Dip the bristles in the solvent. Make sure it does not reach the ferrule
  • Soak for 10-20 minutes. Give the brush an occasional swish.
  • Remove the brush and rinse in water
  • Repeat the steps until the brush is completely clean
  • Lay the brush flat on a paper towel to dry

Nail Polish Remover

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol available, then nail polish remover is a good substitute. It works in the same way as the first solvent, but it has a strong odor. You can follow the same steps mentioned under rubbing alcohol. Just switch rubbing alcohol with nail polish remover and the rest of the process is identical. Be careful when handling either solvent.

Using a Comb

You can manually remove the paint clumps from the bristles using a fine comb at your disposal. But, you have to be careful to not pull out any bristles.

  • Wet your brush
  • Apply some oil to soften the bristles
  • Grip the bristles from the base and run the comb through
  • Repeat until paint is removed

If following these methods isn’t removing the dried acrylic paint, then it is time to say goodbye to your brush. In this case, it is better to buy a new set than slave over something beyond repair. Just be sure to take care of your new brushes this time.


A painter is only as great as the tool he wields. You can’t create elaborate works of art if your brushes are cacked with dried paint. To make your life easier, this guide is full of tips on how to take care of your brushes and clean them properly. We hope you find the information provided here helpful for your next painting project. After reading about how to clean acrylic paint brushes, you won’t have to replace your brushes any time soon.

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