HELP! My Brush Needs CPR!



I cannot tell you how many times I have forgotten to rinse out my brush and the next day it is all crusty and nasty. Do not fear.  Sometimes you can save that favorite brush.  I am going to show you how.  Please note, these tips will make your brush useable but will not bring it back good as new.


Solvents to Consider:
Water to remove water based paints.
Mineral spirits or paint thinner to remove oil based paints.
Denatured alcohol for shellacs.
Mineral spirits for varnishes.

Water if you are removing a water based glue.



You will need:

Appropriate solvent

Paper towel or old rag
Paint brush in need of cleaning
Old cup, bowl, bucket, or Tupperware
Disposable gloves or mask (for some solvents, you will need them)


  1. Clean off as much of the dried paint as you can
  2. Pour your solvent into a tray of your choice (read instructions on the bottle carefully)
  3. Place brush in tray and swirl it around until it is coated in solvent and until you see the paint breaking up. Using your hands if you wish (gloves on), massage the brush bristles well
  4. Rinse paint brush under warm, running water.
  5. Use rag or towel to remove excess water
  6. Re-shape your brush and let dry.


If your brush still has paint you can repeat steps 2 and 3 and let your brush sit longer in the solvent.


When you are using acrylic paint, use hot water with a bit of vinegar to help break up stubborn  paint.


Sometimes if your brush is in really bad shape it may not be able to be brought back to life. Take heart, my friend.  You can always give it a proper burial service 😉


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