How to Clean Oil Based Paint Brushes

Oil-based paint brushes are very useful in painting project. They apply rich color to your walls, doors, or furniture. This type of paint offers a smooth finish that won’t chip when dry. Oil-based paints need to be cleaned up with the right products and methods for future use.

Prep the brush for cleaning

Brush cleaning is a lot like brush painting. It’s a delicate process that requires patience, safety and a little know-how.You can clean your brushes with soap, water and an old toothbrush.

  • The first step is to remove all the paint from them so they’re ready for cleaning, then you’ll follow up with a few more steps to get them clean and ready for use again.
  • Prep the brush for cleaning by removing any excess paint simply by pressing it against the sides of the paint can. This will cause some of the excess paint to come out onto the edge of the can instead of just sitting in your brush. This is especially important when working with oil-based paints because they tend to stick better than latex paints do. Once you’ve emptied most of the excess paint from your brush, wash it in warm water with mild soap or detergent until there are no more visible traces of paint in it.

Apply mineral spirits to the bristles

Most oils, varnishes and stains are water-based and can be cleaned with soap and water. However, oil-based paint brushes require special cleaning because these types of paints are not easily removed from a brush.

Apply mineral spirits to the bristles, or dip the brush in a small amount of linseed oil. Rinse the brush with turpentine to remove all traces of mineral spirits or linseed oil.

Soak your brushes in warm water for about 20 minutes before using them again. This will help remove any remaining paint on the bristles that you couldn’t get out with soap and water alone.If you want to preserve your brushes for future use, coat them with paraffin wax before storing them away.

Rub the brush with a stiff bristle

When cleaning oil based paint brushes, you can use soap and water or mineral spirits. The mineral spirits will evaporate faster, so you may want to use soap and water first if the paint is still wet.

  • Rub the brush with a stiff bristle brush to remove dirt and old paint from the bristles. If you need to remove more than just dried paint, soak the brush in warm soapy water for 15 minutes then scrub with a stiff bristle brush again. Rinse well with warm running water until all of the soap is gone.
  • Do not let your brushes dry out between uses because this will cause them to retain odors that may permanently stain your next batch of paints (even if they are water-soluble).
  • Store your brushes upright in a jar containing enough mineral spirits to cover them completely when not in use so they don’t dry out.

Dip the brush in turpentine

One of the most common painting jobs is painting a house.

People who do this type of work need to be familiar with how to clean oil based paint brushes. Oil based paints are very hard to get off your hands. They dry quickly and stick to everything. This means that you have to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before you start working on anything else.

You also need to clean your brushes well after each use so that the paint does not go rancid inside the brush hairs. If this happens, you will have problems with your next painting project because you will be spreading this rancid paint through your new paint job.Dip the brush in turpentine, moving it so the solvents can penetrate the bristles. Then rinse off all of the turpentine and let it dry overnight before using again.

Work soap into the brush using a wire brush

Clean your brushes immediately after use. Soap, solvents and water can all damage the bristles and cause them to fall out.

Work soap into the brush using a wire brush, working soap into all sides of all bristles. Rinse with warm water until no more paint comes out of the brush. If you are working outdoors, rinse with water from a hose or pail.

Holding the brush by its handle between thumb and forefinger, rotate it back and forth between your palms to work out any remaining paint in the bristles. This step is especially important if you are using a painting knife because this tool has no metal ferrule (metal band around the base) to separate hairs that have become clogged with paint.

Return your brush to its proper storage place in an upright position (not lying on its side), so that excess moisture drains away from it and does not settle inside its bale or handle

Rinse with clean water

Oil-based paint can be difficult to clean. The best way to clean up is to use a brush cleaner made specifically for oil-based paints. If you don’t have any on hand, try this method instead:

  1. Rinse with clean water and pat with paper towels to remove all moisture.
  2. Soak the brushes in warm soapy water for several minutes and then wipe them dry with a paper towel.
  3. If any dried paint remains, try rubbing the bristles against a piece of fine sandpaper until it’s gone.


When you’re finished cleaning your brushes, it’s important to thoroughly dry them. You can place an old towel inside the bristles of your brush and then grab another old towel and wrap it around the brush. Rotate the towel so that it completely wraps around the brush and then wipe away any excess water with a clean portion of your old towel.