How to clean paint brushes with paint thinner?

by Abby

How to clean paint brushes with paint thinner?

  34 answers
  • We have used paint thinner to clean brushes that were left and not properly cleaned. I hope this helps!

  • Sca4116745 Sca4116745 on Aug 11, 2018

    Soak in paint thinner over night it should loosen the paint up

  • Acetone or paint thinner. Use a small toothed comb on them too

  • Christy Christy on Mar 15, 2018

    If it was acrylic paint, you should be able to put it in some more water & clean it up after letting it soak for a while. If it was an oil-based paint, you can try putting the brush in some varsol or paint thinner, but even then, they may not come clean again. Good luck!

  • Kelli L. Milligan Kelli L. Milligan on Jun 07, 2019

    Latex,, scrape off as much paint as you can, start rinsing with tap water, can use dish soap, keep rinsing until no more paint comes out, takes awhile. You can use a wire brush if have dried up clumps at base of neck to brush out.

    Oil base, do the same except use paint thinner not water.

  • Elizabeth Allen Laney Elizabeth Allen Laney on Jan 12, 2017

    I only use good brushes for artwork or house painting. You should only be dipping the brush in the paint about a half to an inch. And never, ever, get paint on the ferrule or under it. If you are using the brush right, it shouldn't be hard to clean. You basically use water to clean up latex and paint thinner for oil based paints. Hang your brushes after shaking the excess water out (a quick downward stroke) and the bristles will stay straight. Also, if your paint is too hard to remove you can use a wire paint brush cleaner (sold at Home Depot or paint stores). If you aren't going to take proper care of good brushes, then just buy crappy ones and throw them away. Your project won't turn out the same with crappy brushes, though. You can also use acetone for good brushes that have been left too long with acrylic/latex paint. You have to soak them a little.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Nov 24, 2021

    Soak the paint brush in paint thinner overnight-the bristles only.

    As Elizabeth explained, use only good brushes on the tip, 1/2"-1", no further than than.

    The paint thinner breaks apart the oils that cling to the bristles in your paint brush.

    Here's a helpful link to explain further:

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Nov 24, 2021

    Hello generally I use a glass jar with soaking the paint brush will help remove dried crusted paint. Additionally there are some products that are used to help get dried paint out of fabric or clothing.

    After cleaning store in your paint brushes in the proprietary cardboard wrap can be helpful to protect and maintain your bristles longevity

  • on Nov 24, 2021

    Paint thinner is useful for oil based paints and stains. Not too helpful for latex.

  • William William on Nov 24, 2021

    Paint thinner for oil based paint. Water and liquid dish soap for latex paint or soak in hot vinegar.

  • Yes, if it's oil-based paint or stain. It's best to soak them before they dry.

  • Tuula - Color Me Thrifty Tuula - Color Me Thrifty on Nov 24, 2021

    Paint thinner is only for oil-based paints, and with the excellent quality of latex paints these days you should be able to do most painting jobs with latex... which comes clean with just soap and water. I do a lot of painting and haven't used oil in years.

  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Nov 25, 2021

    Hi Abby, use paint thinner to clean oil paint. Pour some thinners in a glass jar and leave the brushes to soak for a few minutes. Whoosh them around and wipe them off with a kitchen towel. Repeat until they're clean. Please dispose the paint thinners safely -'s%20not%20dangerous%20to%20throw,event%20(see%20Step%203).

  • Lindsay Aratari Lindsay Aratari on Nov 25, 2021

    Use it overnight to let the paint soak off

  • Annie Annie on Nov 25, 2021

    Yes paint thinner will definitely work to clean paint brushes. A painting hack that we always use, because it is so much easier - after we use the brush, put it in a plastic bag (fold it up around the brush so it's airtight). Then keep it in the fridge. This way when we do another coat (or another wall) we just pull it out of the bag and start painting again.

  • We use it to clean oil based paints and oil based stains. We put the brushes in a ziploc bag.

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Nov 26, 2021

    Work thinner through the brush bristles, dipping up and down in container several times. Spin the paint brush into a waste area to remove excess thinner and then repeat process with a clean container and clean thinner.

  • Maura White Maura White on Nov 28, 2021

    Yes - if you get terpentine - a paint thinner, it thins the paint so you can more easily rinse out the paint with water (even though terpentine and water dont' mix). So if you are using oil based paint, the only way to rinse our those brushes to to use an oil based solvent like terpentine that will help pull the paint out of the brushes. If you are using acrylic paint, as long as the paint doesn't dry, you can use just water to clean the brushes.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Nov 29, 2021

    You wash them with it and you can also soak for a short period of time. I use vinegar to clean my paint brushes for a soak when they get stiff.

  • What kind of paint is on there? Is it dried or still wet? If it's latex or acrylic and still wet, soap and water cleans them up. If it's dried, The Masters Brush Cleaner is what I use. Paint thinner is good for oil type paints, let it soak a bit and use a stiff brush. Don't pour the thinner down the sink.

  • Yes! Just allow you brushes to soak in paint thinner over night.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 07, 2023

    Remove as much paint as possible , then steep in pain brush cleaner and leave.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Apr 29, 2023

    Soak them in it in jam Jar.

  • Janice Janice on Jun 08, 2023

    Add paint thinner to a recycled plastic container that the brush will fit into and submerge the bristles of the paint brush in the thinner and let soak for 20-30 minutes.

  • I soak the bristles only in an old can to remove the paint.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Aug 08, 2023

    Soak them but make sure they are suspended and not resting on the bottom of the container where you have the thinner.

    You can also bring them back to life with white vinegar.

  • Betsy Betsy on Aug 13, 2023

    Hello Abby: What I do is I save a glass jar, like from pickles or such, with a wide mouth, and put enough paint thinner in so that it covers the brush and part of the metal part where the bristles go into the handle. It's called the ferrule :) Then, I put my brush inside and let it sit for a few minutes and then squish it around until the brush is clean. If the paint is hard, you can soak in vinegar. Here's a neat site that may help:

    Happy painting :)

  • I pour paint thinner in an aluminum can and then soak the bristles of the brush in it.

  • Richard Richard on Oct 14, 2023

    To get the paint off, your brushes. Use downy detergent that you wash clothes with. Soak Them for a couple hours and they Well come clean Lake new

  • Betsy Betsy on Nov 01, 2023

    Hi Abby: What I do is to fill a jar with paint thinner, up to the area where the ferrule, the metal bit that the bristles go into, is, maybe mid-way up the ferrule, so that all of the bristles get covered with thinner. Let it sit overnight, giving it a stir every now and again, and in the morning, squish the brush around the jar and let the thinner drip off. Then, wash the brush in warm soapy water. That should do it.

  • Mogie Mogie on Feb 06, 2024

    1. Remove excess paint on brush.
    2. Don’t let your paint brush dry while dripping. Use the remaining paint on your paint brush so it won’t drip of excess paint. To do this, press the paint’s bristles inside the paint can’s walls. You don’t have to use the excess paint on a wall or roof you’re painting. Use the bristles’ leftovers on old newspapers. This will make it easier for you to further clean the bristles of your brush later on.
    3. Know the kind of paint you just used.
    4. Determining the type of paint you’ve used (water-based, oil-based) will tell you the kind of solvent that you need in order to dissolve the dried paint on your brush. For oil-based paint, put mineral spirits or turpentine (a paint thinner used to thin the consistency of paints) in a small pail. For latex or water-based paints, simply mix hot water and liquid dish soap in a bucket.
    5. Dip the brush in the cleaning solution with thinner
    6. Submerge the paint brush in the bucket containing the cleaning solution with thinner (for oil-based paint) or water and soap mixture (for water-based paint). Spin the bristles for about 10 seconds, squeezing and wiping them to make sure all dried paints are thoroughly washed off. Work with your fingers first then follow it up with an old comb that will “brush away” the remaining paints clinging to the brush. Be careful not to brush too hard so as not to damage the bristles. For protection, you may want to use chemical-resistant gloves when cleaning the brush with your hands.
    7. Rinse off using warm water with soap.
    8. After removing the paint with thinner, give your paint brush a good rinse using warm water and soap. This should wash away the solvent or paint thinner you’ve used and some remaining paint on the brush. As these are chemicals, do this in a bucket or a sink far from food and kitchen staples.
    9. Dry your paint brush.
    10. Shake off the water and let the paint brush dry. Make sure the bristles are completely dry by vigorously shaking the brush and pat-drying it with a clean rag. You can also use old newspapers that can absorb the excess water. Again, be very gentle on the bristles so as not to damage them.
    11. Store your paint brush properly.
    12. Once your paint brush has dried, store it in an area where it won’t be deformed. You can either hang your paint brushes or lay them on a flat surface. Don’t put heavy objects on top of your brushes to avoid damage. Avoid squeezing them in tight storages where bristles can get bent. It’s better if you have a toolbox dedicated to your painting tools. You can also wrap the cleaned brushes using a newspaper and tie it with a string in order to retain its shape.