How to Resurrect a Paintbrush

>> 9.14.2009

Not only am I removing my popcorn ceilings and renovating my bathroom, but I’m also working on painting the entire house (DIY, of course). Because using a good paintbrush can make all the difference quality of the results, I bought a nice, new two-inch Purdy to use for cutting in. You can imagine how horrified I felt when I walked through the kitchen this morning and saw my brush caked in paint. I had forgotten to rinse it out!! Spending another $10 on a paintbrush did not sound like a very good solution to my problem (hey, I’m thrifty) so I went to work on the resurrection. Check out how I brought my brush back to life:

1. Run warm water over the brush to rinse out any extra paint still absorbed into the bristles. While the water runs, gently loosen the bristles apart from one another.

2. Soak a cotton ball with nail polish remover. Gently run the cotton ball over the brush in the direction of the bristles. This should loosen some of the clumps. Rinse the brush with warm water and try to get the clumps to slide off. Repeat this step with a fresh cotton ball.
3. When most of the clumps are off, put the brush in the sink and pour a small amount of nail polish remover straight onto the brush. Let the brush absorb the remover then start “painting” the bottom of the sink with the remover. This should break apart the majority of the remaining paint. Rinse the brush to clear it of the polish remover.

4. Repeat any of the above steps until you feel like the brush is clean enough to paint with.
Here's mine- not quite “good as new,” but ready to help me finish up those walls (you’ll get to see them later)!

Anyone have other tips on cleaning or resurrecting paint brushes? Has this ever happened to you?


Miss Mustard Seed September 14, 2009 at 12:53 PM  

What a great tip! I've used a product called Krud Kutter brush cleaner that would've also done the trick, but just about every woman has nail polish remover in her house. Smart lady!

onegrandhome September 14, 2009 at 4:31 PM  

This is genius!!!! It bothers me to no end to have to toss away paint brushes or to have to try to make use of them even though they are semi-caked with old paint. I can't wait to try this. Wow.

Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog September 14, 2009 at 4:44 PM  

@Miss Mustard Seed - As you can imagine, I was in emergency mode and needed to do something quickly/ cheaply! I'll look out for Krud Klutter for the future.

@onegrandhome - My brush had dried overnight and this worked like a charm. I hope it works for you too!

Kelee September 14, 2009 at 8:31 PM  

I have 43 for you to work on....for me......


love, kelee

Graham September 15, 2009 at 9:43 AM  

Thanks for the comment! We're really excited to start getting into home improvement stuff-- I did all of this stuff for my parents before I moved out for college and I've missed it ever since.

alanna rose September 15, 2009 at 12:28 PM  

I love my Purdy brushes - they are the best. We have a 5-1 painting tool that really helps with cleanup (I'm pretty sure they cost less than $3), it has a comb end that helps you get every last bit of paint out of your brush, and a half moon shape that you run over your roller to get the extra paint out.

Amy {The Red Chair Blog} September 15, 2009 at 8:42 PM  

What a great tip! I have had lots of petrified paint brushes over the years that could have benefited from this!

Thanks for stopping by my blog to say hello!


Janean September 17, 2009 at 6:14 PM  

Never with nail polish remover. wow. I DO brush the clean brush bristles generously with hand soap & then form them back into original shape. It's like a new brush!

Danielle and Clint September 18, 2009 at 9:03 AM  

WOW! I was always wondering how to get my brushes cleaner!! Thanks for the tips!

Kirby3131 September 19, 2009 at 7:52 AM  

I love me a Purdy brush! :) and losing them because I'm forgetful is just so sad. One of my Purdy's I've had for 10 years.

I put my brushes into Hefty baggies - they are like gallon zipper bags, but no zipper. I keep a box of those with my painting supplies. If I open a can of paint, I put a baggie over the top so the paint won't get air and then I set the lid on top of that (so I don't have to pry it off in 10 minutes when I pour more paint.) I also immediately place my paint brushes into a baggie when I set the brush down for longer than 5 minutes. I've left paint brushes in the baggies for three days and they stay nice and wet and ready to use (or to clean up!)

Your tip is fabulous for the uh-oh times. I would have never thought of it.

Kristin - The Goat

Debbie September 20, 2009 at 5:30 PM  

Buying my Purdy brushes has been the best investment ever! I used to buy the cheapos that fell apart after cleaning... never again!

Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous,  September 23, 2009 at 10:16 PM  

I use liquid fabric softener. It helps keep the bristles pliable and works well to get the paint off.

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