How do I choose my brush

Cleaning brushes: This is how paintbrushes & paint rollers get clean again

If paintbrushes and paint rollers are not washed out properly after painting, the paint residues dry up quickly and the bristles become hard. The painting tools are then usually ready for the bin and before the next coat of paint you have to invest money in new brushes and rollers. But you can easily save yourself that: We show various possibilities and tricks how you can clean your brushes properly and clarify where you dispose of old paint residues and rolls.

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Clean brush properly prepare

Before you clean each brush, you have to prepare it in the same way, no matter what color is stuck to it: Thoroughly spread the paint residue on an absorbent surface. For example, you can use an old piece of newspaper or cardboard. You can then squeeze out the brush bristles with newspaper, an old rag or kitchen roll until no more paint comes out.

For brush cleaning, it does not matter whether you used acrylic varnish, wood glaze or wood varnish, 2K varnish or wall paint. Much more important is whether the paint is on the brush water based or solvent-based is. You can usually find information about this on the paint bucket.

Cleaning brushes: water-based paints and varnishes

You can easily clean all brushes to which water-based paints or varnishes adhere with lukewarm water and a little soap or detergent. It is best to use soaps that have a honey-like consistency. You can better massage them into the bristles and thus loosen the color. To save water, the paintbrush washes out in a larger bucket instead of running the faucet. Every now and then changes the dirty washing water for fresh one. If the water stays clear, your brushes should be clean again.

There should then be no more paint deposits between the bristles directly above the metal clamp, otherwise the brush will become hard at this point and the bristles will spread over time. Dry the clean brushes with a cloth and hang them up to dry. You can find out how to do this below.

Cleaning brushes: paints and varnishes that contain solvents

Most paints and varnishes these days can be bought on a water basis. However, there are some special paints, such as protective metal paints or tile paints, that contain solvents. It is best to take along brushes to which such solvent-based paints adhere

  • Brush cleaner,
  • Nitro thinner,
  • or universal thinner

washed out. To clean the brush, it is best to use an empty container, for example a pickle jar, which you fill about halfway with the thinner of your choice. The brush bristles must be completely covered by the liquid. Do not put the paintbrush directly in the glass, otherwise the bristles will bend. So that it does not touch the bottom of the vessel, you can clamp the brush in a clothes peg and place it on the edge of the vessel. So the brush hovers over the floor and the bristles stay nice and straight. After the appropriate exposure time, you can then remove the paintbrush and rinse it with lukewarm water and a little soap.

Tips from the master painter: Such thinners, especially nitro thinner, are very odorous. The best thing to do is to take an additional, larger bucket into which you can put the smaller container with thinner. Then seal it airtight with a lid and set it aside until you want to wash out the brush. If you have a small glass, you can also pull a plastic bag over the opening.

You can keep the glass with the thinner and simply use it again the next time, because the washed-out color particles have settled on the bottom of the glass and do not interfere there. After use, simply close with a screw cap and store. However, you should not shake the glass before using it again.

Clean brushes from oil paints

If you try to wash off a brush with oil paint on it, you will most likely not get a satisfactory result. Because, as is well known, water and oil do not go well together. Therefore, it is better to try turpentine or turpentine substitute. With it you can not only dilute oil paints, but also remove oily paint residues from your brushes.

Let the brush dry properly after cleaning

Wet brushes are best hung up to dry with the brush head facing down. This allows the water with the remaining color pigments to drip off well. Never put the brush upside down in a glass to dry, otherwise the water will run into the metal clamp. Paint residues can dry on in front of the clamp and this can damage the brush: the bristles may spread, the clamp can expand and even burst.

If you put it upside down in the glass, the bristles bend and the brush is over. Larger brushes usually have a hole where you can simply hang them up. If you don't have a hook for it, push a thin nail or pen through the hole and place it on a container to dry. You can alternatively dry small brushes without holes lying on a cloth or hang them on a clothes hanger with clothespins. But don't put it on the heater, it dries out the brush hair faster.

Clean dried brushes with vinegar

If the brush bristles are already bone dry, all effort is in vain. But if the paint has just dried, you can still get the brush clean without any problems. Either leave them a little longer in brush cleaner or nitro thinner or use a popular household trick: like baking soda, vinegar is a popular home remedy. You can also use it to clean sticky brushes. To do this, heat some vinegar in a saucepan or in the microwave. Put the paintbrushes soaked in the hot vinegar water and let them soak. After a few minutes you can take it out and rinse it with soap and lukewarm water.

You can find out what else you can use vinegar for in the household in our guide "Vinegar as an all-purpose weapon: the home remedy that can do almost anything".

Clean brushes with detergent or fabric softener, is that possible?

Do you only get dirty laundry, bed linen and towels clean with detergent and fabric softener? Not quite! In fact, you can use it to clean your dirty brushes too. And they are even a really cheap alternative to expensive brush cleaners, with which you can get even solvent-based brushes clean again. They contain enzymes that break down dirt and grease and so can also loosen the color pigments from the bristles.

This is how it works: Put about a quarter of a cap of washing powder or two spoons of fabric softener into a cucumber jar half full of water, in which you hang the brush as described above. Depending on how dirty it is, you can leave it there for at least an hour or more. Even if the brush looks clean, you still have to smear the remaining color pigments out of the bristles. You can do this, for example, on an old hand brush that you place on the bottom of the vessel in the water. Then change the water until it becomes clear. Then your brush will be clean again and even a little bit cared for.

If you want to take a closer look at the procedure, we recommend this video:

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Clean paint rollers or paint rollers properly

With paint rollers, too, it pays to clean them properly instead of buying new ones over and over again. Most wall paints are now made on a water basis. So it is completely sufficient if you clean the paint rollers after rolling them out on cardboard or newspaper with a little lukewarm water and soap.

With lambskin rolls you can add a little fabric softener to the water for the last wash, this makes them soft again. After cleaning, squeeze the rollers and let them dry completely. You should then wrap lambskin rolls in newspaper so that they don't get dusty until the next time you use them.

You also roll out foam rollers carefully first. If you have used solvent-based paints, you can put small rolls of thinner in a sealable container, shake vigorously and then let them stand for a few hours. Then you rinse them in a bucket with clean water and soap. For larger rolls, put some thinner or white spirit in a tub and roll out the roller until no more paint comes out. Then wash out again with soap and water.

A little hint: It is best not to wash off darker shades in the white sink, shower or bathtub. Otherwise you'll have to scrub them too. Better to use a larger plastic tub or bucket for this.

Trick: This is how the paint brush and paint roller do not dry out

Cleaning brushes and paint rollers is definitely one of the less popular tasks for painters. But if you clean them straight away after painting, you will definitely have friends with them for longer and save money on new brushes.

But we can also understand if after a strenuous day you don't feel like washing out the roles you have used. Fortunately, there is a simple trick: simply wrap used paint brushes and rollers airtight in a piece of cling film. The airtight packaging prevents them from drying out immediately. The still wet paint can then be washed out of the paint roller for the next two to three days. This can also save a lot of time if you paint the apartment for several days and don't want to spend an hour cleaning brushes and rollers every evening.

You shouldn't wait too long for smaller brushes. Since they are much smaller, they dry out faster than large rollers despite the film. Once the bristles are hard, it becomes difficult to get them clean again.

Want to see another cool trick on how to get paint rollers clean in 30 seconds? Then take a look at our article "7 beginners mistakes when painting - and how you can simply avoid them".

What to do with old paint rollers, paint residues and universal thinners?

You can dispose of completely dried, solvent-free and water-based paint and varnish residues in the residual waste. The same applies to brushes and paint rollers with dried-on paint or varnish residues.

Empty containers of paints and varnishes that have a green dot can end up in the yellow bag.

Liquid and solvent-based paint and varnish residues as well as brush cleaners, nitro thinners or universal cleaners are classified as hazardous waste and must be handed in to the recycling or recycling center.

The same applies to washing water with thinner. This must not be tipped into the drain. Otherwise it can get into the groundwater via the sewer system. Sometimes there is also an extra collection point for old paints. It is best to find out more about possible contact points at the local municipal utilities or at a recycling center.