How to clean hardened/dried paint brushes?

by Judy

How to clean paint brushes where the paint has dried?

  33 answers
  • DesertRose DesertRose on Jan 12, 2019

    If it was oil base paint, soak them in paint thinner or turpentine, if they were in water base paint then soak them in water and that should enable you to wash them out.

  • Kelli L. Milligan Kelli L. Milligan on Jan 12, 2019

    Use stripper and a wire brush. If not exspensive brushes, Just throw away. It may have caused them to loose their shape and become fuzzy.

  • William William on Jan 12, 2019

    Soak them in hot vinegar for a while. Then use an old comb to get the paint out.

  • Karen Karen on Jan 13, 2019

    I'm with William! Heat the vinegar up to the boiling point and then soak. After completed, wash with soap and warm water.

  • Lorraine Lorraine on Jan 13, 2019

    There is a cleaning product sold by Dollar General called Awesome. I have used it successfully to soak dried out paint out of brushes. Works great. A gallon bottle is only $3.00.

  • Ceci Capen Ceci Capen on Oct 17, 2016
    soak the brush in turpentine for about an hour. Then vigorously push the brush in the container up and down for a minute or so. This should work but you may have to wipe up the brush with a rag or use a hairbrush and brush out the softened latex paint. Be sure to dispose of turpentine AND rag safely. Rags can spontaneously combust if not disposed of correctly.
  • Ginger Ginger on Oct 17, 2016
    Soak in paint remover; use a metal comb to comb the bristles when it softens, working the remover through. Follow clean up directions on paint remover.
  • B J  Alexis B J Alexis on Oct 17, 2016
    Haven't tried it myself, but have read that soaking such brushes in hot vinegar for an hour and using a metal comb through the bristles will remove old paint.
  • Stephanie corley Stephanie corley on Oct 17, 2016
    There is latex paint remover. While you are waiting to get ready to drive to your hardware store, put the brush in hot water with a little of dish detergent. I have had luck removing latex paint in 1-2 days.
  • Lynne Webb Lynne Webb on Oct 17, 2016
    Your best source is a phone call to Home Depot or Lowes; maybe ACE Hwd. There may be something at those places. Seems to me if it was only a couple of hours it should be able to be removed. I have left mine too long (but not dried totally) and a wire 'doggy' brush seems to gently lift the paint from the bristles. Try fabric softener, too. It won't dissolve it but it may make the paint and bristles pliable enough to comb the paint off.
  • Joanne Jodoin Joanne Jodoin on Oct 17, 2016
    Latex paint means water paint, so wash your brushes carefully, You could use Lestoil or vinegar or also just Dawn liquid soap with some few drops of baby oil using a metal brush for. But first, how much did you pay for your brushes? If this is cheap ones, just put them in the bin; but if you pay more than you do when you buy to $store, wash them. Good Luck. Sure you`ll get them very cleaned.
  • William William on Oct 17, 2016
    I use hot vinegar and let them soak for a while.
  • Michele Pappagallo Michele Pappagallo on Jul 13, 2017

    Sometimes you can save a paintbrush by soaking the bristle part only in warm vinegar. Just heat up some vinegar in your microwave, stand the brush up in the vinegar, and let it soak for several hours. Then, rinse. It depends on what type of paint is dried on, etc.

  • Dfm Dfm on Jul 13, 2017

    soften it in paint stripper. You may need to take a fine tooth comb to get the crumbs out.

    for water based paint...Kruddd cutter. Leave it soak in. If it doesn't come completely clean...repeat.

  • Lta12474743 Lta12474743 on Jul 14, 2017


  • Kristina Freeman Kristina Freeman on Sep 26, 2017

    soak in paint thinner

  • Wanda Wanda on Sep 26, 2017

    If it's enamel paint there is a brush cleaner you can get at home depot as well as a wire brush especially for paint brushes.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Sep 26, 2017

    did you try mineral spirits? try soaking them in that and then rinsing with warm water

  • Chubby58 Chubby58 on Sep 26, 2017

    Try soaking them in a little acetone.

  • Janice Janice on Sep 26, 2017

    Try soaking in alcohol

    • Mark Mark on Jul 04, 2022

      I tried that once and all I got was a hangover !

      seriously try the boiling vinegar and then hot soapy water wire brushing it until paint free , after this you should only use them with water based paints .

  • Jennifer Jennifer on Sep 26, 2017

    Nail polish remover, mineral spirits or last but not least: paint thinner or turpentine

  • Cheryl Cheryl on Jan 29, 2019

    Hi- I have had success when adding water softener to the soaking water, then using a hair comb to comb it out. Also, adding hair conditioner to soaking water helps get the paint out and save the hairs on the brushes.

  • Kelly F Kelly F on May 29, 2012

    Have you tried soaking in fabric softener?

    Dawn is quite good. Soak in hot water with lots of dawn put the dawn directly on all over the brush work it in. Also do soak it over night in fabric softener. Good luck!

    If the paint has been on a super long time throw the brushes away. Otherwise Dawn dish detergent - then hang them suspended by a wire through the handle in a can of liquid fabric softener full strength

  • Peace Painting Co., Inc. Peace Painting Co., Inc. on May 29, 2012
    There has never been a product that will restore them to their former glory. Perhaps using paint stripper will give you back a brush you can use as a primer brush.
  • 3po3 3po3 on May 28, 2012
    There are some paintbrush cleaners at the big box stores or paint stores. A lot of the paint will come off if you just soak them in hot, soapy water.
  • I found an old can of Crown brush cleaner.....I soaked a bunch of brushes yesterday that we sitting around for quite a bit. It cleaned all of them except for one...which I will use for oil-based primer and toss. I was able to paint with a couple of them today and they are holding paint just fine. Not sure if I can still buy the crown brush cleaner....will check and let you know!
  • Helenk Helenk on Aug 21, 2015
    Murphy's oil soap. Soak them in the oil soap as long as needed until they soften, then you can wash them, and they will be as good as new. You can also then dip them in fabric softener before drying them or skip this step. Just suggested this solution to a friend and it worked like a charm. Would like to know if it works for you.
  • Darla Darla on Aug 21, 2015
    Soak in rubbing alcohol, then comb out the paint.
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jan 19, 2022


  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Jan 31, 2022

    paint thinner should work

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Apr 30, 2022

    paint thinner will do a trick

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Dec 28, 2022

    Soak for as long as it takes in Bio Wash Powder and water!

  • Deidre Deidre on Feb 10, 2023

    Let this be a lesson to all of us. Clean your brushes, everytime!