Once you’re done with the painting and you have admired your handiwork, you’ll need to clean up – yawn – this guide will make the fairly dull activity finish as quickly as possible so you have nice clean paint brushes.

The first question to ask yourself is will you use the same paint on the brush or roller in the next 1-2 days. If the answer is yes, then wrap cling film around it and store it somewhere out of the heat – this will stop the paint drying out and you won’t need to wash it twice. You’re done already – that was easy!

If the answer is no, and you are finished with the paint, then here’s what you need to do:

How to clean paint brushes quickly

  1. Cut an old plastic jug of milk in half – this is a perfect container for soaking used brushes. Pour in about 2-3 inches of white spirits. For water based paints like interior emulsion, steps 1 & 2 aren’t crucial but will make life easier.
    (See also: what is the difference between white spirits, methylated spirits and turpentine?)
  2. Soak your brushes in the white spirits for 5 mins.
  3. Rinse the brush under a tap
  4. Add washing liquid and using the palm of your hand and fingers, work the soap through the bristles until the water is running clear
  5. Your brush is clean enough to use again on another paint
  6. Let the brushes dry
  7. When you need to use the brush again, make sure to flex the bristles to loosen them up before painting

Paint rollers are a different matter for me. These cost about €3 each and unlike brushes are really are not worth the hassle of trying to clean them every time. I throw mine out and use a new roller for each type of paint.

– Seán

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