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How to Clean Hardened Paint from Paintbrushes Naturally

By: Joe Truini
Pouring hot vinegar over a  paintbrush to soften hardened paint.

Pouring hot vinegar over a paintbrush to soften hardened paint.

Hardened paint can often be remove from a paintbrush naturally using household vinegar. Here’s how.

Cleaning Hardened Paintbrush with Vinegar

  1. Place the paintbrush in a disposable aluminum baking pan.
  2. Heat vinegar up in a pot on the stove to almost boiling.
  3. Pour the hot vinegar over the paintbrush in the pan.
  4. Allow the brush to soak for 10 minutes or longer.
  5. Use a brush comb or wire brush to remove the softened paint.
  6. Wash the brush with warm water and soap.
  7. Rinse the paintbrush with clean water.
  8. Allow the brush to dry on a flat surface or hanging up.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Print   Video Transcript

Joe Truini: After painting you should always clean your brushes thoroughly so they look almost brand new, as this one did. But no matter how careful you are, sooner or later, you may end up with a brush that looks like this.

Here’s one that, unfortunately, I didn’t get to in time, and it has some paint caked on it. I tried soaking it in hot water, been scrubbing it, and I just can’t get it out, so I’m going to try this trick that I’ve used once before, and it worked really well.

Get a foil baking sheet—this is one of those dishes that has disposable foil. And I heated up some vinegar on the stove. This is warm vinegar just to the point of boiling, and I’m going to soak the bristles.

And vinegar is a pretty powerful acid. You’d be surprised, it can eat through a lot of material. We’re hoping here that it softens that paint. So we’re going to let that set for about 10 minutes. We’re going to come back and clean it.

Well now that the vinegar has softened the paint, we’re just going to rake through the bristles with a brush comb. Now, depending on the condition of your brush, you may need to do this two or three times. But you can see after just 10 minutes, this brush is nearly as good as new.


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8 Comments on “How to Clean Hardened Paint from Paintbrushes Naturally”

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  • Gina Says:
    March 5th, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Does this work for both Latex and oil paints?

  • casey Says:
    January 11th, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Just pour paint thinners over your brush and allow to stand for a few mins ,now press the bristle end of the brush on to a hard surface (pressure required)then you will find that the hard bristles will start to bend and soften with the pressure your putting , keep that pressure on but with a dabbing motion and you will soon have a brush as good as when you have softened the brush its then a good idea to leave in a jar of spirits

  • Lois Copple Says:
    August 4th, 2017 at 6:59 am

    This took three times,but worked for me ….thank you!

  • jill Says:
    July 19th, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Thank you! I think it was successful. Waiting for it to dry to get the verdict.

  • Harish Rana Says:
    March 5th, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Easier to say than done. how about hardened paint brush like a rock? can you fix it? Doubt very much.

  • Travis Crawford Says:
    January 26th, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Challenge accepted.
    I just so happened to have a paint brush in question that could be used as a support truss for a bridge.

  • Suzanne lelwica Says:
    May 21st, 2016 at 7:48 am

    I missed part of your recomendation about using vingear to the out side of your house on your radio show.i dont get a chance to listen much because i take care of my 94yo mother with dementia. Thank you for all of your tips!

  • Harish Rana Says:
    March 1st, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    I just saw your video on how to clean hardened paint brush. The brush in your video was not hardened at all but soft bristles with dried paint, which can easily come off with vinegar. Please show how to clean a solid hardened like a rock dried paint brush.

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How to Clean Hardened Paint from Paintbrushes Naturally