Top Paintbrush Tips from the Art Pros on Facebook

Recently on Facebook, I posted a quote that  gave me a lot of interesting replies and comments,

“My paintbrushes are having a bad-hair day!” ~Lori McNee

Top Paintbrush Tips from the Art Pros on Facebook

This lead me to a great idea for a blog post. A while ago I asked my Twitter friends to share their tips and for this amazing post > 14 Art Business Tips from the Top Pros on Twitter.

So, what if I ask my Facebook friends (many are professional artists) to help me with great brush cleaning tips? This is what I posted on both my personal Facebook profile and my Fine Art Tips fan page:


Help! “My paintbrushes are having a bad-hair-day!” Please share your tips for keeping your paintbrushes clean! If you have a good tip, I will use it and link to you in an upcoming post on! Thanks for sharing your tips with other artists!

Here is what the Art Pros on Facebook had to say at their paintbrush tips: (one even made an entertaining video, be sure check it out below!)

Teri Granger Martin Soak for 5-10 minutes in baby oil (yes, baby oil) – This gets a lot of paint and medium off before washing thoroughly with mild soap and warm water.

Sandra Dechiro Wegmann Murphy Oil Soap, works wonders for cleaning brushes. I have been using it for years.Dip brushes in it and work it into the paintbrush hairs. Then wash with out with warm water. It works fantastic.

Jennie Rosenbaum Good question! I hate cleaning my brushes so I have a very rigid system to make sure I actually do take care of them. Next to my easel I have a fresh cleaning tub to keep my brushes fresh while painting. At the end of the session (or the end of that brush’s run) I put them all in the tub and head off to the sink to give them a good clean. I use laundry soap and massage the bristles thoroughly from the base to the tip. Then rinse and repeat until wiping them on the soap leaves no stain. I rinse my tub out and refill, then stack my brushes in their holes on the side to dry (I flick off the worst of the water and shape first) and set them back ready for the next session!

I use water miscible oils which are just magic, very easy to clean and take care of, better for the environment and for lazy brush people like me! I always work better when everything is ready to go as well.

karen fox tarlton artist

Karen Fox Tarlton Ivory bar soap when finished painting…nothing beats it!

jen hoffman

Jennifer Hoffman Gessler vaseline.

edward kennedy artist

Edward Kennedy I use Murphy’s oil soap. Fill up an old pump soap dispenser and use just what I need.

mark sheehan artist

Mark Robert Sheehan Mineral spirits,dry,then soap and water followed after drying by mineral oil if you use oil paint. http://www.marksheehanmetalartist.vpweb….


dee lee artist

Dee Lee Silicoil helps me out. I’m the worst brush cleaner ever.

utah painter johnson

Utahpainter Johnson I think the trick to cleaning is keeping the ferrule dry so that the bristles don’t rot up inside the paintbrush and come loose.

I used to store mine in Murphy’s oil soap when I didn’t want to clean them. is a great little book on brushes. How they’re made, different types, uses, care etc.

cheryl greenfield artist

Cheryl Greenfield What great suggestions already…Since it’s been awhile w/oils and now w/new brushes… thanks to all for these tips!!

deanna schrell artist


coralee mcnee girl in hatCoralee McNee I use Dove – I think that the moisturizer in the soap helps keep the bristles conditioned.

marilyn fenn artist

Marilyn Fenn First I clean them using Turpenoid (for oil) or water (for acrylic, watercolor, ink), until no paint comes off onto a paper towel. Then to the sink where I wash with “The Masters” brush cleaner (big tub) until no more colored soap comes out of the bristles. Finally, for those times when I forget to do that, I soak the now stiff brushes in “Better Way” brush cleaning fluid…very effective stuff, but be careful — it will take the paint right off the handle if you soak them too deep. Works better even than Silicoil. For my encaustic brushes, I just leave the paint in the brush, and use a lot of brushes (one for each color).

P.S. I appreciate everyone else’s great tips!

marc hanson

Marc Hanson I’m personally not nuts about introducing other oils into my paint through my brushes. That goes for soap residual also. So I only clean them with other than OMS when I’m using some kind of a drying medium. Otherwise a daily rinse in the OMS and they’re ready for the next day.

If I do need a deep clean I use either Turpenoid “Natural”, the citrus based cleaner in the green can, and let them stand in that for 10 minutes. Then I work them on the glass palette, kneading back and forth to loosen up the paint down deep into the ferrules. Once I’m happy that a lot of that paint is out of there, I take them to the sink and rinse the Turpenoid “Natural” out of them completely in warm water.

In a ‘worse case scenario’ I will use the bar of Fels Naptha Soap under the sink if I feel like they need a soap bath. But the Turpenoid Natural does the trick and conditions without drying them out.

You do not want the Turpenoid Natural left in the brush, it’s nasty stuff and doesn’t ever dry.

Washing daily with soap will dry them out making the bristles brittle. Other greases and ointments scare me because I don’t think they are completely out of the brush the next time I go to paint and that ends up in the paint film.

I guess I use a similar approach o Marilyn. 🙂

carol mcintyre

Carol McIntyre If the ferrel gets gummed up, I was told that you can soak your brushes in rubbing alcohol for a couple of days and that will solve the problem.

nolan clark artistNolan Clark here is a paint brush tip I did for our site a week or so ago Lori

lori mcnee artist with pugLori McNee Wow! What a fun way to start my day…thanks so much for all the great tips. I will pull this together into a fun post. I will let you all know when it’s up – hopefully this week. 🙂


Well, I guess I better give my brush cleaning tip: My paint brushes are extra challenging to clean since I do not use turpentine with the water soluble oils. I have tried many products over the years. Lately, I am using Windsor & Newton’s Brush Cleaner & Restorer. First I rinse out my brushes with warm water and Dawn dish-soap to cut through the oils, then I soak them in the cleaner overnight. This is working pretty well, although I am still having trouble with the oils in the ferrel. I can’t wait to try the tips above!

Thanks to all my Facebook friends for sharing their tips with

Here are some more articles you might like:

How I Stopped a “Copycat Artist” on Facebook

Water Soluble Oils: Facts, Tips & Why I Use Them

Turn an Altoid Box into a Mini Watercolor Travel Set

How to Choose the Right Paint Brush for the Art Technique

Tips for Painting Water and Reflections

The Best of 2010: Articles on Art, Marketing & Social Media

How to Make Your Own Inexpensive Small Painting Panels

Save Studio Space: How to Make Your Own Painting Racks


  1. Heather O'Cain January 17, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Great tips and video! I guess I am not the only one with hard brushes! I will use hair conditioner on my natural fiber brushes!

    • Lori McNee January 17, 2011 at 11:19 pm

      I am so glad you found these tips helpful, Heather. Thanks for letting me know. I can’t wait to try some of them too!

      Happy cleaning-
      Lori 🙂

    • Lucy January 8, 2012 at 5:51 am


      I make my own brush cleaning soap in a bar….no animal, no petroleum. If you send me a self addressed stamped small mailer (something a little sturdier than an envelope), I will send you a little slice and you can see what you think. It’s the best I’ve ever used.

      Lucy Herman
      33783 HWY FF
      Edwards, MO 65326

      • Karen January 25, 2014 at 4:07 pm

        Hi Lucy….Are you willing to share your recipe?? Karen

  2. Franziska San Pedro January 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    NICE tips! Thank you all for your great suggestions and ideas.
    I actually clean my brushes with linseed oil (I buy that cheap at Walmart or Home Depot because I use a lot of it) because to me it feels like soap and turpentine dry out the brushes. Don’t know if it does or not, maybe it’s just me,


    • Lori McNee January 17, 2011 at 11:23 pm

      Hi Franziska.
      I am glad you enjoyed this post. It was fun to do and I really learned a lot myself. Thanks for sharing your tip too…and your thoughts.
      Great seeing you here again. Look forward to your comments in the future.

  3. Meltemi January 18, 2011 at 9:09 am

    UK artists? Using Oils or Acrylics? Then use Original Swarfega…

    • Lori McNee January 18, 2011 at 10:57 am

      Meltemi, thank you for sharing a tip from the other side of the pond! Many of my readers are from abroad, so I really appreciate your comment. I am sure this will be helpful.


      • Meltemi March 22, 2011 at 8:04 am

        Thank you are welcome in my twilight world…

  4. Beth Sotherden January 18, 2011 at 10:45 am

    It’s probably too late to add to this post, but I didn’t see this tip from anyone else. The best thing I’ve ever found for cleaning oil painting brushes is Citrasolv. I bought it for another use, but discovered how well it cleaned my brushes. And I’ve tried everything!

    • Lori McNee January 18, 2011 at 10:55 am

      Hello Beth, and I welcome your comment. Thank you so much for sharing your brush cleaning tips with us. I have never heard of Citrasolv, but will check into it and will give it a try!

      Thanks for stopping by for a visit and I hope to hear more great tips from you-
      Lori 🙂

  5. Tommy Thompson January 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    For several years I have used Marvelous Marianne’s Savvy Soap. Here is a link to find this wonderful product:

    Tommy Thompson

    • Lori McNee January 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm

      Thanks for the tip, Tommy. I have not heard of this one. Thanks for sharing the link. This will be helpful to us all!

      Lori 🙂

  6. Joanie Springer January 26, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Love this post! I also use water soluble oils, and rinse often while painting in a shallow pot of water so the ferrules don’t get waterlogged. Then at end of painting, I rinse in water again, then use Generals Brush Soap, love it love it love it. I swish my brush around til it comes out clean, and conditioned. I also use their bar soap which i use for my hands and sometimes use it for the brushes too. This product clean traditional oils too….so they say.

    • Joanie Springer January 27, 2011 at 10:35 am

      Sorry folks, it was Masters Brush cleaner that i meant to reference above, just fantastic, and I was skeptical til i took home a sample from an art fair after talking with the rep. She said that traditional oils could be cleaned with this cleaner with no solvents applied previously. (I’m all about solvent-free, toxicity-free oil painting) I’ve gone thru two smaller containers and my next purchase is the big bucket of this stuff!

      • Lori McNee January 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm

        Hi Joanie, thanks so much for sharing your tip. I am going to try this, because I still have some trouble getting my brushes clean after using the water-soluble oils. Thanks again for sharing this tip – I needed it!

        Lori 🙂

  7. Cristina Del Sol March 19, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I am usually pretty diligent about taking care of my brushes during and after each painting session. With acrylics, the paint starts to dry very fast. But, from time to time, specially when is very late and my work table is quite messy, I tend to miss the odd brush with paint.
    We usually hear this is the death of the brush. Well, not so!
    Two products that work :
    1-“Acrylic Brush Cleaner” by EZ AIR. It takes a few days to soften the paint.
    2-“Murphy’s Oil Soap” …much cheaper and does the job very fast, depending on the size of the brush.
    After soaking for one or two hours, the paint softens. And it works for both, Acrylics and Oils. After soaking, I use an old tooth brush to work down from the ferrule to the bristles, coaxing the soft like-butter paint off. Then, give a final rub with regular brush-soap or any bar soap, rinse well and the brush is left clean.

    This tip was given to me by the gentleman that painted my house.
    Also, to condition brushes put some inexpensive “Hair Conditioning” and use Ivory Soap for everyday cleaning. This works good for natural fibre brushes.
    I have heard “Citra Solv” works too…but I don’t trust it. Too strong a chemical, might dissolve the whole brush!

    • Lori McNee March 21, 2011 at 9:17 pm

      Hello Cristina, I am a bit behind on replies….

      Thanks so much…this is a great tip!! I have heard of using Murphy’s Oil Soap but have not tried it myself. I will give this a try because it might work well with water soluble oils too. I am going to go get some and try it myself. I have to admit that I am hard on my brushes. I am so busy, I paint until the last moment and then I hurry on the brush cleaning. This tip will help clean those neglected brushes.


  8. Diana Probst June 17, 2011 at 6:48 am

    I generally use mineral oil but recently tried a small tub of The Masters’ cleaner and conditioner, and got out not only recent green paint, but blue paint from the time before that, which had dried deep down. I am now a firm convert to the occasional use of solid soaps and conditioners. Alas, I now have to go through this page looking at better ways, and I may end up buying a book. Three pages into your site, and you’re already a bad influence on me.

    • Lori McNee June 21, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      Diana, I just recently went back to The Master’s cleaner myself. I have been trying many other products, but find it works the best.
      I am so glad you are enjoying this blog!


  9. Romario Brown January 1, 2014 at 1:11 am

    Teaching for so long have thought me one thing, home made cleaners saves alot of money but in the end it is the ultimate reason for ruin brushes as well as mineral spirits, which dries the hair of your brushes if left unattended for a period of time. I rather sacrifice the money to get something that not only will restore a dried out brush that have been sitting for years but strengthen the one your working with now. Try using Artisan Brush Cleaner, its fast safe and reliable for any paint situations, works excellent for both oil and Acrylic paints. They have a alot of selections to choose from i usually order their 1 gallon jug, last longer than what Winsor & newton offers. Check it out and Good luck guys,



    • Lori McNee January 19, 2014 at 11:56 pm

      Hello Romario, thanks for sharing your product tip here. If you want me to review your cleaner, please email me [email protected]

  10. Carl H. November 14, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    I like your article. With brushes wider than an inch, I use the Paint Piranha to clean my brushes if the pain dries on them.

    • Lori A McNee May 1, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      Carl, many apologies for the belated reply. Thank you for the tip.

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