How to Take Care of, Protect and Restore Paint Brushes

Make Your Brushes Last Longer

Paint brush careBy Alina Bradford

The most important tool a painter uses is the paint brush important source. These brushes can cost a lot of money, so it makes since to take clean, store and restore them.

Plus, a little extra care for brushes doesn’t take a lot of time, no matter if it is a fine sable brush or a well-used synthetic. The payoff is fine lines, a straight chiseled edge and money saved for paints and canvas.


To clean a paint brush, rinse them in warm water and gently massage the bristles with soap made especially for washing fine art brushes. Then, make sure to rinse all of the soap and paint from the bristles. The water should run clear and when the bristles by the ferrule are pulled apart there should be no paint residue.


Cleaning a brush is often a wearisome task since it has nothing to do with creativity. Often, artists plunk their paint laden brushes down in a container of water or solvent and leave them for later. This is one of the worst things an artist can do to a brush. Increased wetness can loosen the glue holding the bristles to the ferrule (the metal part of the brush that wraps around the bristles) and makes natural hairs brittle.  Also, leaving brushes bristles-down in any container can splay the fibers or bend the whole brush to one side.

If the brushes can’t be cleaned right away, lay them flat in a plastic zipper bag so that they won’t dry out and can lie flat instead of on their ends.

To store clean, dry brushes, place them into a cloth brush holder and roll them up. An artist can make a brush holder themselves or buy them from art supply stores.

To make your own cloth brush holder see this article: How to Make a Cloth Brush Holder.


Even with the most loving care, some paint brushes will get ragged on the tips, making it hard to get the precise lines that are needed. Luckily, there’s no need to throw these brushes away.

First, the artist can try training the bristles back into place. To do this, place some liquid soap (dish soap or hand soap works) on the bristles and use an index finger and thumb to coax the bristles to a point. Let the brush dry and sit for a few days for the bristles to be trained back into position. This is a great fix for splayed paint brush bristles. Make sure to wash out the soap before using the brush.

If training the bristles doesn’t work, try giving them a trim with a pair of sharp scissors. Cut off stray hairs to make a new point or cut the brush into a scrubber brush.

Using these methods, artist can keep their number one tool working like it should.