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How Professional Painters Clean Thier Watercolor Brushes

Updated on February 20, 2017

Professional Tips To Clean and Maintain Watercolor Brushes

How To Clean Your Brushes After Painting

1. The watercolor brush must be washed after each time you paint with it. Do not let your pigmented water dry on the bristles. This is especially important also for acrylics! If your acrylic paint dries on the bristles, the brush may be very difficult to recover back to it's former smoothness.

2. Rinse the brushes under running water, let all the excessive paint wash off. When the water are running clear, you can add some soap or shampoo. Most natural hair brushes are made of real hair which can be washed with mild soap or shampoo.

3. Use a drop of shampoo on your palm and do circular motion with the head of the brush so it gets foamy. Rinse and repeat as long as pigment is coming out.

4. Now hold the brushes face down, and let the water drip. Squeeze with the forefinger and thumb the water down. Use a dry towel to dry the brushes, like you would with your hair after a warm bath.

5. The brush would be fairly dry by now, and not dripping water. There is a cool 'painters maneuver' to get the excessive water and dampness out. Slapping the brushes on your index finger or on the side of the sink, so the leftover water which is still deep inside between the hair will 'fly' out. Do this several time to whip off any water which may still be on the brush.

6. Now most of the water is removed, but the watercolor brush hair is probably still damp. The biggest mistake most painters do at this stage is to leave the brushes either head down in or head up in the jar. Leaving the brushes head down in a jar means the whole weight of the brush is now on the damp bristles. They will eventually break or loose shape.

7. Leaving the brushes head-up in the jar is also a mistake! The water in the damp bristles will slowly drip and trickle into the ferrule. There the water will get absorbed by the wood, making it get soft and mold. The water will carry some left over pigment which will dry deep in the ferrule and be impossible to clean or remove. The dry pigment will separate the bristles and the brush will slowly begin to loose shape and preciseness.

8. Now for the most important tip of all - Leave brushes to dry on a flat dry cloth. It can be a towel or your brush holder canvas wrap spread open. The brushes should be left to air-dry on a flat surface. This way the dampness drifts off maintaining the shape of the brush.

Leave Brushes To Air-Dry On Flat Surface

How to Carry Watercolor Brushes

Do not throw them in a backpack without their organizer case wrap. The bristles will get squeezed and mashed. Natural hair will break when bent when it is dry.

Do not cramp them in a small plastic mesh bag, where the damp hair will not be ventilated.

If you place them in a wooden box, make sure the box is not sealed closed for the same reason. The damp brushes need to be air dried not suffocated in a box.

The best way to carry your brushes is to roll them inside the brush holder wrap. If the brushes have small plastic caps, use the cap to protect the tip of the brush when in the canvas roll wrap case or when inside their box.

Poll - Do you carry your brushes anywhere?

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Watercolor brushes are delicate and require additional attention in order for them to last for long time. Not washing them can shorten their life and make them useless within few weeks. Washing them in a wrong way can ruin them after few months. The best way to keep them soft and useful for years would be to follow the tips mentioned above.

Wash them immediately. Rinse with shampoo. Slap out dampness. Leave to dry flat! Remember not to leave brushes upright when damp, nor to leave in water jar all night.

Shop Amazon For Brush Holder Canvas Wrap Case

Rigger Art's Large Durable Paint Brush Holder Organizer - Canvas Paintbrush Roll Up Wrap for Artists - 22 Slots Case Protection for Watercolor/Oil Brushes + Zippered Pouch Bag | Dark Navy Blue
Rigger Art's Large Durable Paint Brush Holder Organizer - Canvas Paintbrush Roll Up Wrap for Artists - 22 Slots Case Protection for Watercolor/Oil Brushes + Zippered Pouch Bag | Dark Navy Blue

A useful accessory for painters to keep their brushes safe when they carry them around. The thick canvas wrap has 22 pockets for long handle brushes and short handle brushes, with two extra wide jacks for pen, penknife, palette knife or other art gear. The straps are really long so you can fasten the canvas roll even if packed with brushes.


Keeping Damp Brushes Upright Is a Mistake Always Dry Them On Flat Surface


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