How To Use Paint Thinner To Clean Brushes

Applying the last stroke of paint on a surface doesn’t mark the end of your painting job. Cleaning the brushes is also an important task. Most DIYers hate this stage, but an improper storage of the paintbrushes can irreversibly damage your tools.

Solvent-based paint products are the most difficult to clean and the best product to use for this task is a high-quality paint thinner, also known as white spirit.

You will need a few clean jars, sufficient paint thinner, water, mild detergent, a microfiber cloth and old newspapers.

Step 1

Pour a sufficient quantity of paint thinner in a clean jar; place the brush in the jar and make sure all bristles are immersed in the white spirit.

Remove as much paint as you can by stirring the thinner with the brush but avoid crushing the bristles against the bottom of the jar – the excessive pressure could deform the bristles and damage the tool. Stir vigorously for about one minute.

Step 2

Pour clean thinner in the second jar and move the brush from the first jar to the second. Again, use a sufficient quantity of thinner to make sure the bristles are fully covered in liquid. Don’t dispose of the thinner in the first jar but let it sit.

Repeat the procedure to get rid of any paint residues, stirring the brush vigorously for about a minute.

Step 3

Take the brush out of the jar and tap it on a clean microfiber cloth. Make some soapy water from lukewarm water and mild detergent and place the brush in it. Use your hands to get rid of the paint residues; simply squeeze the bristles between your thumb and forefinger from the base to the tip.

When all the paint has come out, rinse the brush in running lukewarm water and tap the bristles on a clean microfiber cloth to remove excess water.

Wrap the brush in an old newspaper sheet without pressing the bristles and store the brush horizontally in a drawer.

Our expert tips

Cleaning your brushes with paint thinner is uncomplicated, but the products involved in this operation are toxic. Use adequate protective equipment and clean the tools in a ventilated environment, preferably outdoors.

If you have to reuse the brush in a short time, for example, to apply a second coat of paint, you can temporarily leave the brush in a jar filled with paint thinner. However, if you have to wait for more than 24 hours, clean the brush and store it until further use.

To save money and protect the environment, don’t dispose of the paint thinner used to clean the brushes. Leave the jars aside for a couple of hours until the paint residues have precipitated on the bottom. Use a strain and carefully pour the clean thinner back in its original container.

Dispose of the paint residues in an appropriate manner to avoid damaging the environment.