Acrylics · Beginner Art · Oils · Painting · Resources and Materials

The Dos and Don’ts of Brush Care

By looking after your brushes they will last a lot longer.  Good brushes are fairly expensive so it makes sense to get into good habits and look after them.  Follow these dos and don’ts to look after your brushes:


Don’t let paint dry on the brush

Particularly acrylic paint, which is so fast drying.  This can happen very quickly, the paint on the outside layer starts drying out, particularly on the ferrule (the segment of the brush that connects the bristles to the handle).  Once paint dries on the ferrule it tends to stop the flexibility of the bristles.

Don’t overload the brush with paint

You should try to avoid this for the same reason as the one above, if you overload the brush with paint it will cover the ferrule.  Paint can be hard to remove once partially dry from the join where the ferrule and bristles meet.  Once dry paint builds up in this join the brush becomes less flexible.

Don’t leave the brush in water overnight

Don’t even do this for a few hours with smaller brushes. When left in water for long periods the bristles start be become ‘L-shaped’. On the occasions when I have forgotten and left the brushes in a jar of water overnight, I have found that they do not usually recover.

Even when working on a piece it is a good habit not to leave the brushes you are not using in water.  You can buy brush holders where you can rest brushes between uses.

A paintbrush holder is a useful tool
A paintbrush holder is a useful tool


Clean your brushes immediately after use 

Acrylic paint can dry within minutes on the brush so always clean the brush immediately.  Even a few hours could lead to drying paint on bristles or ferrule.  I rinse all my brushes in warm water (unless I have used oil paint) and then at the end of a session I rinse them in warm soapy water.

Cleaning paintbrushes with soap and water
Cleaning paintbrushes with soap and water

If you have used oil paint then I remove excess paint with a rag,  I then rinse them in turpentine and wipe them with a clean rag.

Transport and store brushes in plastic tubes 

You can buy plastic tube protectors for individual brushes and tubes to store more than one brush in.  These tubes are good at protecting brushes when they are being transported around.

Paint brush holders are ideal for transporting brushes
Paint brush holders are ideal for transporting brushes

You can also buy canvas brush holders which can be rolled up and transported.

Canvas brush holder
Canvas brush holder

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