How to Get Dried Paint off Paint Brushes

How to Get Dried Paint off Paint Brushes

How to Get Dried Paint off Paint Brushes .
Checkout my video this is a summarized version of our in-depth article below. 

Are you having a hard time on how to get dried paint off brushes? Do you have a bunch of used paint brushes with dried paint that you’d like to get restored? If you encounter all these problems, then you come to the right page. We will show you easy tricks and tips to get rid of all types of dried paint and on your paint brushes, which may also help you save a lot of money.

How to Get Dried Paint off Paint Brushes

Let us tell you first what causes the paint to dry. Drying of the paint occurs when the solvents in your paint covering evaporate, leaving the paint feeling dry to the touch, even if it is not completely dry. This also applies to paintbrushes, whenever we have paint projects whether at home, in school, or for just a hobby, we sometimes let them into the open air and forget to restore them. Thus, the result is a paintbrush with hard bristles covered in dried paint. 

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We know, buying brushes can cost you a lot but now, we will show you different and effective ways on how to get dried paint off your paint brushes and restore them where you can use them again for your next projects. Cleaning paint brushes with dried paint may require patience but we will get through it with this tutorial and basic materials that you can usually find in your own home.

What we should know first is the type of paint we used and how long the brush did had the dried paint in it. In this article, we will be discussing how to get dried paint off paintbrushes in three (3) types of paint – how to clean oil-based paint off brushes, how to get acrylic paint off brushes, and how to get enamel paint off brushes.

How to Clean Oil Based Paint Off Brushes

Although oil-based paint is more durable, it takes longer to dry. The most common way on how to clean oil-based paint off brushes is to use turpentine or paint thinner. What you have to do is to get three (3) plastic or metal containers, paper towels, drop cloths or any recycled papers, latex gloves, mask, and goggles for protection, and last but not the least, your paint thinner or mineral spirits. Paint thinner contains harsh chemicals and you would want to work in areas with proper ventilation. 

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After gathering all your materials, put on your protective gears and place the papers or the drop cloth where you will do the cleaning to protect your work surface. Scrape the excess paint off the brush into the paint can and fill up the three (3) containers with half-full paint thinner and put them on the protected surface. Put your brush into the first container and let it soak for five (5) minutes, rinse the brush with the thinner to get off the paint. Dry the brush using the paper towel after rinsing it and do the same technique to the two (2) remaining containers. Place the paintbrushes into a board and let it dry after. Pour all the used thinner in an empty can and dispose of it properly. 

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Using Linseed oil is one of the alternative ways of how to clean oil-based paint off brushes without exposing yourself to these toxins from thinner. Since oil-based paints are made either from alkyd (synthetic) or linseed (natural) oils, it is another friendly option to clean your brush easily. 

Linseed oil

To begin, take a small amount of linseed oil and pour it over a piece of paper. This works best when you use any form of rough paper instead of regular printer paper. Brush the bristles of the brush in the linseed oil. Begin rotating the brush once you’ve done coating one side. The aim is to obtain as much oil as possible on the brush. For the greatest results, make sure to coat all of the bristles well.

How to Get Acrylic Paint off Brushes

If you are into art, you know the basic solution on how to get acrylic paint off brushes since the paint dries quickly. You have to make sure that the paint is still wet so you can clean and remove the excess paint off the brushes easier. 

acrylic paint

Trying to remove dried and hardened acrylic paint off your brushes may be tricky especially if you don’t know the type of bristle of your brush. Here are two (2) types of brush bristles for you to know.        

  • Synthetic Bristles 

If your brush contains synthetic bristles, removing solidified acrylic from them will almost certainly be impossible. You’ve pretty well exhausted all your choices if washing with soap and water isn’t working. Acrylic paint is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove from synthetic brushes. The brushes will most likely deteriorate if they come into the mix with severe chemicals. 

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  • Natural Bristles

Natural bristles may cost a lot more because they were made out of squirrels, hog, and badger bristles but it is much easier on how to get dried paint off paintbrushes using harsh chemicals which are more suitable and resilient for natural bristles. You will also save a lot if you buy brushes with natural bristles because of their durability and easy-to-clean feature. 

After classifying your brush, let’s now move on to different solutions that may help you on how to get acrylic paint off brushes. 

  • Acetone, Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover has acetone as it’s one of its active and primary ingredients. You can easily find nail polish remover in your local cosmetic stores or you may probably have them in your medicine cabinets. 


Acetone as a solvent will surely help your paintbrush as it deeply penetrates the bristles and dissolves and gets rid of any acrylic paint build-up. 

  • Alcohol

If you want less odor and an alternative to acetone, you might want to use Isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol that works the same way as mentioned. Dipped your paintbrush into a jar with alcohol and let it sit for five (5) minutes. Take the brush out and rinse it with warm soapy water, you can use a dishwashing detergent or a hand soap, and repeat the procedure until all the dried acrylic paints are washed off. 

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If you ever tried these two (2) methods and the dried paint is still on your brushes, here is another manual method you can attempt to make.

  • Manually Removing Paint Clumps Using an Old Comb

Find an old comb with finer teeth and scrape manually the paint of your brush. To begin, moisten the brush with a little water and add a small amount of oil. This will give the bristles greater strength and also help the paint clumps to fall off of them more easily as you comb through them. Remember to always wet the brush first before doing this method to avoid the fraying of the bristles. 

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How to Get Enamel Paint off Brushes

Enamel paints are best used in outdoor areas that are subjected to extreme weather and temperature changes. With its smooth and high gloss finish, enamel paints provide surfaces that are easy to clean and stain and damage-resistant. Before applying this kind of paint to your appliances, which are often painted with enamel, you also have to know how to get enamel paint off brushes.

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If the paint is oil-based enamel, clean it with mineral spirits or paint thinner before washing it with water and soap. You can use detergent and water to clean water-based enamel paint (latex, acrylic, emulsion). Surfactants, such as liquid fabric softener, or degreasing detergents, are very good in eliminating the remaining residues. To keep the bristles straight, rinse as much water out of the brush as you can before wrapping it in a dry paper towel. 

Learning how to get enamel paint off brushes is an advantage especially if you know what your paint is based on.

Other Techniques

  • Using Fabric Softener in Cleaning your Paint Brushes

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*Note that this method will successfully work on water-based paints only like acrylic and latex. 

First, you need to run the brush hard against the rim of the paint can several times to remove as much paint as possible. Mix about a 1/8 cup of fabric softener and 4 cups of warm water in a bucket and start spinning the paintbrushes into the mixture until the paint falls off the brushes. After, remove the residue by rinsing the brush in the sink and dry the brush using a paper towel. 


  • Soaking the Paint Brush into the White Vinegar


This might be the most inexpensive method on how to get dried paint off paintbrushes but surely this will take you some time and you should also endure the smell of the vinegar. 

Into a pot, pour the vinegar, and let it boil. Put your brushes in the hot vinegar once it is heated and leave it for 20 minutes. When done, remove the dried paint with your hands after washing them in warm, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and let the brush dry after. 


  • Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar

Some recommend using Apple Cider Vinegar that is just as effective as using fabric softener. All you have to do is to soak the brushes into the apple cider vinegar overnight with an amount of coating on the whole bristles of the brushes. And same as the other methods, rinse the brush after removing the remaining paints and let it dry on a flat surface.

Storing and Taking Care of your Paint Brushes

 Having a good quality paint brush can last for years if it was properly taken care of. Allowing yourself to know some paint brush storage techniques will lengthen the life of your brushes. Here are different tips on how to store your paintbrush after you finish your project.

  • Immediately clean your brush after each use

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Forgetting to clean the brush after use is a common mistake to most of us. Remove any surplus paint from the brush first. Scrape the brush against the paint can’s edge to get rid of any excess paint. Do not let the brush sit there for a long time as it will dry up the paint. 

  • Use your breaks in cleaning your brushes in between paintings

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Whenever you are having a break in between your paintings or project, use that time to clean your brush with soapy water to clean off any residue of paint. You may also brush the bristles to retain their shape.

  • Don’t let your Paint Brush soak for too long

Dont soak too much

Allowing a brush to soak for an extended period does not always harm the brush’s head, but it can deform the wood handle and ruin the finish. It can even loosen the brush’s handle, causing it to detach from the remainder of the brush in rare situations. To keep the brush from coming apart due to the cleanser, soak it as needed.

  • Restoring your Paint Brushes after getting of Dried Paint

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When you are done on how to get dried paint off your brushes and are now preparing to store them, you may need a heavy kind of paper or a paper grocery bag that you will fold around the shape of the bristles of the brush then seal it with tape or tie it around the brush. This technique will help the brush maintain its shape as it dries. 

  • Resting Your Brushes 

Rest your brushes

Brushes can be deformed if they are resting against the tips of the other brushes. One of the many methods to store and keep your paint brushes tidy is to put them in a brush holder. Other artists keep their brushes in drawers or folded up in canvas sleeves with unique compartments for each brush.

  • Softening the Bristles of your Hard Paint Brush

Even brushes with natural bristles tend to harden after time. Future painting jobs would be more difficult to manage as a result of this. If you like your brushes and would rather try to repair their hardened bristles rather than throw them away, you can use the following steps.

  • Place the brushes into the pot with vinegar and let it boil.


  • Remove all excess paint using a spatula after taking out the brushes from the boiling vinegar.

  • If the bristles are still intact, repeat the boiling process.

  • After removing all the paints including some residue, cover the bristles of brushes with some conditioner.

  • Put the brushes in a plastic bag.

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  • Soak the plastic bag with brushes in hot water for an hour.

  • Rinse the brushes well after the whole procedure.

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Giving your paint brushes proper care will not just save you a lot of money but also your time. If you have brushes on your home that you probably need for your future projects, you surely need to know the proper way of how to get dried paint off paintbrushes. 

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Even though most of us do not use the same kind of paint, there are several ways to remove all the dried paint your brush got and most of the materials you need are in your own home or if not, are easy to avail in your local groceries or hardware.

Restoring your paintbrushes and giving them a good cleaning every after project we made is what we should practice and we hope you can follow and rely upon our tips that surely work.

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