Wondering how to clean paint brushes? Painting is one of the most common homeowner do-it-yourself projects. Along with the painting, it's important to know how to clean brushes as it can get expensive if you're always buying new ones.
So of course, everyone knows how to clean paint brushes, right? At a recent gathering of women homeowners, one woman who's doing extensive renovations to her home, is trying to do just an hour or 2 of painting most nights. She said her biggest problem with this strategy is the time it takes too much time to clean her paint brushes.
Several other women offered tips on how to clean paint brushes and I decided the topic was worth researching. Because my handyman experience was in running the business, I don't have any more experience painting than the average homeowner. So I started out like many homeowners, researching the different recommendations online. I was surprised after reviewing 5 or 6 articles, to find more confusion than agreement on how you should clean paint brushes.
Researching Homeowner Topics Can Get Confusing
Now that I've told you I'm not a painter, I'm going to give you a peek into how I write articles when I don't have enough experience to be an expert. That's important, being willing to recognize when you're not an expert and getting the advice you need to do the job right.
For example, when we bought our first home years before the Internet existed, we spent 20+ hours using liquid sandpaper and repainting our kitchen cabinets. The cabinets didn't look any better and today it would be easy to learn that liquid sandpaper will remove the glossy layer of paint but it won't smooth the painted surface or remove imperfections. The lesson learned? Before you invest a lot of time and/or money, you want to make sure you're using the right tools and materials for the job.
Over the years I've learned you have to review 5 to 8 articles, to uncover 3 or 4 that you can trust. Most people will give up after 1, 2 or 3 articles, when you find yourself on information overload. But trust me, you've got to read enough bad information before you can tell what's good information. Then you've got to piece together the nuggets from the articles you trust, to get the complete story.
That's where my magic comes in, because I'm gathering this information for hundreds of women homeowners and want to give you the best information possible. After my research, I organize the tips to make it easy for you to understand, and even better is when I can introduce the underlying concepts to help you understand and remember the information.
Researching How to Clean Paint Brushes
Article #1 came from Better Homes and Garden, an article contributed by painting expert Brian Santos, from his book Painting Secrets. There was a lot of information:
- They recommended using the edge of a 5-in-1 tool or the teeth of a brush cleaning tool, to scrape excess paint off the brush.
- They suggested a magic cleaning potion of warm water and fabric softener (1/2 cup of softener for every gallon of water) to help the paint dissolve more easily. Then said there's no need to rinse the brushes in clean water, really?
- They described a paint brush spinner you can make to dry brushes faster and while drying your brushes is important, these details detracted from the focus on the article.
- They went on to suggest you clean paint pads and rollers, as I've always thought of these as disposables.
Article #2 was one I didn't like but it was on a website I usually respect, ApartmentTherapy.com (for design ideas). and the title was intriguing, How to Clean Paint Brushes with Vinegar. They recommended soaking dry paint brushes in white vinegar, and putting a full pot of vinegar with your paint brushes on the stove and boiling, all pretty scary and not something you ever want to do.
Next I reviewed The Best Way to Clean Paint Brushes on Ask Anna Moseley (askannamosley.com) because google displayed Anna's photo recognizing her as an expert author. Anna recommended bringing a pan of white vinegar to a boil, then adding the paint brushes to the vinegar and allowing them to simmer for five minutes … consistent with Apartment Therapy. It got pretty confusing when they next said to wash the brushes in hot soapy water?
Who Are the Experts on How to Clean Paint Brushes?
The web is great for solopreneurs and small businesses to share their expertise. It also creates massive confusion for people who search for quick answers and get into trouble using information that's wrong or incomplete. If you stopped reading after the three articles above, all portraying expertise in how to clean paint brushes, you would likely run into problems.
Who should be giving us advice on how to clean paint brushes?
- Manufactures of paint brushes -have a reputation to protect, or you won't keep buying their products. They do lots of research and testing before manufacturing a new product. Product design has to cover all the ways a product will get used. For paint brushes, that includes understanding how customers will clean their paint brushes (read: Which Paint Brushes Does a Homeowner Need?).
- Paint stores – sell everything you need to paint. They cater more to painting professionals who are buying paint every week. These pros don't need much advice but generally if you ask them for help, they will give you reliable information.
- Professional painters – are the real experts on how to clean paint brushes as they do it every day. Think about the skills and expertise you've developed for the work you do. That should help you see why if often makes sense to hire a professional painter because they know all the tricks and they'll get the job done quickly. More important, they'll get better results because they do a better job of prepping the walls … but that's another article.
Want to learn how to clean paint brushes from professional painters?
We hope you're learning that finding the best homeowner tips takes time. Each of our articles is written with first hand knowledge, tapping into my network of contractors plus online research. Then we try to boil the information down to the tips you need to be a smart and successful homeowner.
- How to Clean Paint Brushes … this article
- Cleaning Paint Brushes …
- Painting Cleanup: Learning from A Professional Painter … who did an amazing job painting houses for me when I owned my handyman business, with great attention to detail!
And once you have the confidence to tackle all sorts of painting projects, check out other articles we've got on painting plus my favorite painting tools!
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