Care & Cleaning Paint Brushes

Care & Cleaning Paint Brushes

Tips and instructions for good paint brush maintenance, the care and cleaning of paint brushes.

Craftsman Style

Brushes used in oil paints and in oleo-resinous varnishes may be kept fresh and clean over-night, or while carrying them from place to place, by wrapping them closely in several thicknesses of paper; but brushes used in spirit varnishes, like shellac, should be washed out at once in alcohol, as they dry very quickly, and are then difficult to soften.

Brush Safe

The proper way to keep brushes, during short intervals when not in use, is in a brush safe. A simple form, if several are to be kept, is a deep pail with a fairly tight cover; on the inside of the pail, at convenient distances from the top, are nails, on which the brushes may be hung by corresponding holes bored in their handles, or by loops of twine at such a height that the bristles of the brushes are immersed, nearly up to the binding, in oil or turpentine which fills the pail several inches from the bottom. In this way the brush is prevented from drying, and yet it does not rest its weight on the bristles, which would cause it to get out of shape. If it is a shellac brush it must be hung in alcohol (or shellac varnish). It is always proper to hang a varnish brush in the kind of varnish in which it is used. A single small brush may be hung in a deep fruit jar, or a wide-mouthed bottle, by a string attached to the cover or cork. All large paint-stores sell brush-safes, made of tin, with hinged covers, and with convenient hangers for brushes; but the principle is the same in all, and any one can contrive one for his own needs.

When through with a job the brushes should be well washed out; this may be with turpentine, but a cheaper material is kerosene, which answers very well; if they can be rinsed out with benzine finally it is a good way.

It is also a good plan to wash out the paint with kerosene (or turpentine) and then wash the brush thoroughly with soap and warm water, finally rinsing out very thoroughly; then by jerking the brush rapidly through the air most of the water may be thrown out; then hang it up to dry where it will be safe from dust. Dust is the great enemy of varnish.

Restoring Old Brushes

Old brushes which have been allowed to dry with the paint in them are usually thrown away, or sold for a trifle to the junkman; in which latter case they come into the hands of a renovator, who softens them by soaking in hot kerosene, usually in a hot-water bath, the kerosene being in the interior vessel and boiling water outside; after which they are cleaned by the use of a mixture of one part acetone and two parts benzole, or coal-tar naphtha. This mixture is a powerful solvent, and will dissolve the old dried paint out of almost any brush. Any of the modern varnish-removers, which contain these liquids, will do the sarnie; and it is not necessary to throw away a costly brush because it has been neglected. But the best way is not to neglect it. The best brushes are the cheapest in the end, and a valuable brush deserves good care.

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