If you’re having brush problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 solutions but I only use one.
Painters have been needing to clean their brushes for as long as people have been painting. So naturally there are a seemingly endless supply of choices. I mean seriously, if you were to go google paint brush cleaning products you will see what I mean if you haven’t already. From Windsor & Newton brush cleaner to the most generic cleaners, I have found through much research and experience that there seems to be only one product that does everything I want and for an insanely good price. That isn’t to say that you wont get a clean brush by using any of the other five million products out there, it is only to say that this is what I have found to be the most cost efficient product while still rendering amazing results.
“The Masters” Brush Cleaner and Preserver is one of the best items on the market if not the best right now. It can be used for almost any paints including Oil, Watercolor, Acrylic, and Stains. For the 2.5 oz container it costs around $5.00 and will last a very, very long time. I paint for a living and one container will last me around 6 months. So when compared to the other products that you may find out there, this one is really great if looking at nothing other than cost.
So how does it work?
So this one is a bit of a head scratcher. They don’t have the ingredients listed anywhere (for good reason I am sure lol) and even with digging through forums to try and understand exactly what is in the product, I have come up with nothing. It’s just speculation but most people seem to be in agreement that it is a citrus based soap. It says it’s non-toxic so this leaves me to believe it is something like a harder soap version of Simple Green, which works well on pain too, but for different reasons in different circumstances that we will talk about in a later article.
So how do you use it?
Luckily I actually I know this one ha ha!
1. So the idea here is to first try and rinse as much paint as you safely can from your brush in your rinsing water. You don’t want to try and create the white rapids in you rinsing container or anything, just give it a solid vigorous shake like you would when you normally rinse your brush. Then lightly dry it off on your paper towel, or whatever you are using to dry your brushes.
2. After that just go ahead and dip the tip of the bristle (about 1/4 the length of your bristles) into the water.
Then take the brush and swirl it around in the masters brush cleaner. Yes, swirl. If you try to just do straight lines like your painting on your masters brush cleaner than it wont work nearly as effective. You aren’t wanting to try and force the brush down into the center of the bar or anything, but some nice soft swirls with that little bit of water still and your brush will help it work up into a lather.
3. You then just take your lathered up brush and give it another good rinse in your water. The idea isn’t to get all of the brush cleaner out of your brush but more to just get the majority off. Afterwards give it a nice smooth drying off through your paper towel, removing some but not all of the leftover brush cleaner.
4. The last step is optional but highly recommended. You want to take your nicely cleaned brush and go ahead run it over the masters a bit more, not as much as when you washed it but just enough to get a bit more on your brush. Then, using your fingers, shape the brush into the perfect form, as it looked when you bought it brand new, making sure that the tip is nice and sharp. This will condition your brush and make it a lot more sturdy. It wont change any of the natural attributes of your brush, but it will definitely increase the time in which you can continue using that brush before it is ready to be tossed aside or used as a drybrush or pot stirrer of some kind.
Other helpful tips to keep your brush alive longer!
So while using a brush cleaner is an extremely effective way to extend the life of you brush it is only one method at your disposal to keep your brushes sticking around longer. These other two tips will also help tremendously in making sure that your brushes will be in the fight for the long haul!
The first tip is one that a lot of people seem to struggle with. Which is when you go to put paint on your brush, letting the paint go all the way up to where the bristles begin and the ferrule ends. This will get paint in the ferrule itself and start messing with the form of your brush after the paint drys. So it’s always better to be nice and easy when putting paint on your brush. If you read our beginners guide then hopefully you are thinning your paints and using a wet palette, which will make it a lot easier to load your brush with paint while not getting any paint in the ferrule.
The second tip is always, always, always, use the bristle guard that comes with your brush, especially if it is a smaller brush. It only takes the slightest touch to a partially damp brush to throw its tip off or make it curved. Even if you use The Masters brush cleaner it will still happen eventually if you aren’t taking proper precautions and putting your bristle guards back on. There isn’t much worse than buying a nice new Windsor & Newton Kolinsky Series 7 and having a great painting session, then go to clean it and set it off to the side and noticed that at some point later in the night, something hit the bristle a bit and now its all curved. That is somewhat rare as those are some sturdy brushes especially new, but they are natural Siberian kolinsky weasel tail hair, and much like your hair or mine, it will bend when wet, and sometimes stay that way.
So take care of those brushes folks, and if you have any questions or feedback, as always don’t hesitate to contact us!