|The red acrylic paint on the brush |
in the Before picture had been allowed
to dry for a week. I made sure to mash
the paint into the bristles. The After
picture is the same brush after I cleaned it.
- Some form of sodium carbonate: Soda Wash is available in the detergent aisle of the supermarket but I prefer to use unscented Arm and Hammer powder laundry detergent. The prices are kind of high on Amazon at the time of writing. Here are the links for more information: Soda Wash Arm and Hammer Powder Laundry Detergent
- Hot tap water and a container: a wide mouth plastic or glass jar
- Brush cleaning supplies: rags or paper towels, toothbrush
- Clothespin (optional)
Soak the brush in hot water and Sodium Carbonate for an hour
|Fill the scoop up to line 2|
and mix with 1 cup of hot tap water
in a jar
Mix the water and detergent in the jar and let the brush soak in it for an hour. I used a clothespin to keep the brush from resting on the bottom of the jar. If the brush is left standing on its bristles for too long they can become misshapen, especially in hot water. The clothespin also allows you to adjust how deep the brush is soaking in the water.
|This is how I let the brush soak. |
Notice that I used a clothespin
to control the depth of the
brush in the water and detergent.
Clean off the softened pain after an hour
After an hour of soaking the paint was softer and more pliable. I used a rag to wipe off most of the paint, you can also scrub it with an old toothbrush. Please note that softer bristles may require more care than bristle or nylon brushes.
|This is how the brush looked after |
I cleaned it after an hour of soaking.
The final soakWhen most of the softened paint was removed I returned it to the jar of detergent and let it soak overnight. The next morning I cleaned the bristles with a bar of soap and water. With the exception of the pink stain in the bristles the brush has returned to a useable condition.
If you don't have the time to soak it overnight then maybe just soak it for another hour and clean it again. Repeat until it's clean. If the paint is really stubborn then you can try mixing up more detergent with hot water as the heat does help in removing the paint.
|The restored paintbrush, |
ready to attack another canvas!
General brush cleaningA weaker mixture of detergent can be used for the general cleaning of paintbrushes to prevent paint from building up in the bristles. I usually only soak them for 10 minutes or so and then rinse with water. This does seem to work better than regular hand soap.
Were you able to resurrect petrified paintbrushes? Let me know by leaving a comment below!