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Thread: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

  1. #1
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    Default Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I havenít used oil paint in a long, long time. Back when I did, it was only occasionally.

    I end up going through 4-5 rinses with mineral spirits and still end up with a ruined brush. And I go through a ton of mineral spirits.

    Iím all ears if there is a proper way to do this. Esp. a way that didnít create an environmental disaster.

    Maybe it is disposable brushes. The cosmetics of my current job are not terribly important.

    Thanks

    Tom

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I went through the same dilemma some years back and began doing a single rinse/clean in thinner, then washing brush with GoJo orange hand cleaner and hot-warm water. The GoJo is very hot and does reduce oils well. Even dish soap laundry soap etc, anything that cuts oil seems to work after initial thinner rinse.
    ...Also I keep a large jar & lid with the used thinner and keep reusing it for this initial rinse, has really reduced the thinner cycles. Hopes this helps.

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Welcome to the forum John. And thanks!

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Quote Originally Posted by John R2 View Post
    I went through the same dilemma some years back and began doing a single rinse/clean in thinner, then washing brush with GoJo orange hand cleaner and hot-warm water. The GoJo is very hot and does reduce oils well. Even dish soap laundry soap etc, anything that cuts oil seems to work after initial thinner rinse.
    ...Also I keep a large jar & lid with the used thinner and keep reusing it for this initial rinse, has really reduced the thinner cycles. Hopes this helps.
    This.
    But I prefer undiluted liquid soap worked well into the bristles to dissolve that last trace of paint. Then wash the soap out. when most of the water is spun out wrap the brush in newspaper to encourage the bristles to dry straight.
    I keep empty thinners bottles to keep the used thinner, rather than a lidded jar.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I've found that a spinner makes a huge difference. The paint is slung out into the barrel before it can contaminate the cleaning liquid.

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    We may be have a translation issue. When you say empty thinner bottles, what do you mean? My thinner comes in metal cans. I’m guessing you have something else.

    And I have a spinner, but it is open air. That is, it spins the brush and the water (or paint) flies in a 360 pattern all over. Not familiar with one with a barrel.

    And thanks for the tips.

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    i expect some to chastise me for this one butt...

    on the rare occasion that i use oil based paints the brush gets cleaned in pump gas thoroughly

    once the gas no longer is tinted by the paint the brush gets washed in dish soap(Dawn) and hot water

    sometimes a stainless steel wire brush gets employed to remove stubborn residew if the painting session takes a long time

    rinse in hot water until the brush no longer smells of gas

    sling the excess water out and wrap in newspaper secured w/ masking tape then hang to dry

    sw
    "we are the people, our parents warned us about" (jb)

    steve

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I always use the wire brush, first with a small amount of thinner to remove the bulk then 2 or 3 more times in small amounts. The brush get's in deep at the base.

    Once The thinner is untinted I swing most of the thinner out out in the yard or onto the shop floor then slap the brush back and forth very quickly against and across the corner of the assembly table leg and from every angle until doing so on a dry portion of the leg remains dry.

    The used thinner get's dumped into the ashes in the wood stove.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Quote Originally Posted by swoody126 View Post
    i expect some to chastise me for this one butt...

    on the rare occasion that i use oil based paints the brush gets cleaned in pump gas thoroughly

    once the gas no longer is tinted by the paint the brush gets washed in dish soap(Dawn) and hot water

    sometimes a stainless steel wire brush gets employed to remove stubborn residew if the painting session takes a long time

    rinse in hot water until the brush no longer smells of gas

    sling the excess water out and wrap in newspaper secured w/ masking tape then hang to dry

    sw
    Ya took the words right out of my mouth!!! I'm sure there will be many who scoff/gasp in horror at the idea of using a highly flammable liquid like gasoline, but it does work exceptionally well. Obviously great care must be taken - I always use it outdoors, well away from any building or anything else that is flammable, and follow up with a thorough wash up with hot water and soap. Let the rants begin!!!

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I keep thinner in coffee cans with lids. Let the solids settle out and strain through fine mesh paint strainers. Leave the lid off the can til the solids harden and toss 'em in the garbage.

    Soon as Im done painting the brush goes in a can with enough thinner to cover the ferrule. Let it sit for a day and then spin it. Wash with Dawn and hot water.
    Lather, rinse repeat. Spin dry and hang.

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    After I clean the paint out using a few rinses of lacquer thinner I wash with soap and water twice the last time letting it soak overnight. then rinse a wrap nicely until the next use.
    (edit: I buy cheap 5 gal cans of "wash thinner" laquer thinner to clean spray guns and general )

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I use two cans: one has ~ 300 ml (6 oz.) thinner innit, used for initial cleaning. This stuffís pretty rich in old paint, itís what was in the second can until it got too opaque to do the job. Second canís replenished as often as necessary, depending on immediate needs.

    First canís contents let solids settle out over time onto can bottom. Once Iím satisfied that can needs refreshing, contents are dumped into empty thinner can (bottle? never use glass!!) for eventual recycling @ hazardous waste drop an hourís drive distant.

    MOST important is the hot water & liquid dish detergent wash & rinse once as much of the paintís been solvent-removed, then the excess thinner shaken out / absorbed on paper towels. I learned the washing technique in middle school 60 years ago when our Ďsupposedlyí well-cleaned brushes got wiped across our faces by Mr. Charlier at the end of class.

    Any convenient mostly empty bucket ought to work well as a trap when using spinner that doesnít come equipped with one. Just donít leave the residue to puddle in the bottom, toss a handfull of cat litter or sand even.

    Then hang to air-dry or wrap bristles in paper towel then leave laid with brushes out off a shelf edge to dry.

    Gasoline or lacquer thinnerís a needless, heedless risk. Stuffís just not made for cleaning fluid. Saw a frame shop blow up years ago while lacquer thinner was being used to clean equipment.
    Last edited by sp_clark; 08-10-2020 at 02:36 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Quote Originally Posted by bluedog225 View Post
    We may be have a translation issue. When you say empty thinner bottles, what do you mean? My thinner comes in metal cans. I’m guessing you have something else.

    And I have a spinner, but it is open air. That is, it spins the brush and the water (or paint) flies in a 360 pattern all over. Not familiar with one with a barrel.

    And thanks for the tips.
    Ours come in plastic bottles with plastic screw caps. I spin the brushes between my palms in the paint kettle that I am cleaning them in. If you use a mechanical spinner you can also hold the brush upright in a can to catch the liquid that is thrown off.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    To everyone who advocates soap and water, I really recommend neat liquid soap first, then wash that out in water. Soap molecules have an oil soluble hydrophobic end and a water-soluble hydrophilic end. So it works better when it can dissolve all the oil before the water grabs the molecules.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I know that soap and water will work after an initial rinse in thinner. But I don't use it. I don't favor feeding the nice bugs in my septic tank paint or thinner and to dump the wash water out onto the ground would be very naughty. So I rinse with lots of mineral spirits. When done with that I coat the bristles with mineral oil and wrap up in wax paper. The mineral oil rinses out easily the next time and while on the brush it keeps any latent paint from hardening.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    I know that soap and water will work after an initial rinse in thinner. But I don't use it. I don't favor feeding the nice bugs in my septic tank paint or thinner and to dump the wash water out onto the ground would be very naughty. So I rinse with lots of mineral spirits. When done with that I coat the bristles with mineral oil and wrap up in wax paper. The mineral oil rinses out easily the next time and while on the brush it keeps any latent paint from hardening.

    Jeff
    What do you do when you get oil or grease on your hands from working on machinery?
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I use my spinner inside a 5 gallon pail, all kinds of thinners and paint residue ends up at the bottom. Made a plywood lid, it captures the flying spray real nice.

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    Default

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Nearly everything is water based here. Its very hard to find oil based paint and varnish, but to the op point, apart from some expensive artists' brushes, I gave up cleaning brushes along time ago. just not worth the time and effort and all above eco issues, let alone the cost of the thinners.
    If I am giving several coats over a short period, I work the brush out on a piece of scrap until the brush is 'empty', then suspend it in a a jar with enough liquid to keep the bristles moist.
    I find even cheap brushes are so much better quality these days, .....my grandfather would spend ages breaking in a brush , to the point it shed no more bristles, and always had a collection of new, just broken in but not quite ready, favourites, and old ones relegated to rough work or cleaning stuff.
    buy it, use it, chuck it, these days. Or water washable paints.
    'C'est la vie' say the old folks it goes to show you never can tell

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I too normally use "disposable" brushes.

    However, It's varnish and top coat time and I've never heard of a water based marine top coat..
    So the good brushes have come out and are laboriously cleaned. I'd not come across "spinning" them before, I think I'll make up an adaptor for my drill..

    For Cleaning liquids, I'm now storing the in use liquids, in the plastic tubs we get for disposable anti covid wipes, they're about 30cm tall and 5 inches in diameter. If they can keep IPA in, without it evaporating, they'll keep in cleaning fluids..
    If I'm going to use a cheap brush again (in the next couple of days), it get's left in a tub of cleaning fluid.
    Just an amateur bodging away..

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Quote Originally Posted by swoody126 View Post
    i expect some to chastise me for this one butt...

    on the rare occasion that i use oil based paints the brush gets cleaned in pump gas thoroughly

    once the gas no longer is tinted by the paint the brush gets washed in dish soap(Dawn) and hot water

    sometimes a stainless steel wire brush gets employed to remove stubborn residew if the painting session takes a long time

    rinse in hot water until the brush no longer smells of gas

    sling the excess water out and wrap in newspaper secured w/ masking tape then hang to dry

    sw

    Me too. Rinse in gasoline until it is pretty clean, then to a commercial "brush cleaner" (big box store stuff), then to the sink with 'Dawn' dish detergent and a comb and finally wrap in paper towels.
    I use mostly oil based and a good number of my brushes are 40+ years old.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I have been using the same set of Linzer Chinese Boar bristle brushes for over fifty years and have also worn out four sets of paint brushes that are of the same ilk. This is because varnish is laid on and paint is brushed on. The abrasion of brushing paint wears a brush out much faster than does varnishing.

    The trick of getting paint and varnish too rinsed out of brushes is to use five washes each contained in a different bucket. Brush wash can be left to accumulate by pouring used wash thinner into the next bucket after a brush has been cleaned. The thinner is saved and re-used in this manner and only the last bucket contains clean thinner. Soap and water will rob the spring out of the bristles of a good brush and are really not needed for cleaning unless you are working with junk brushes. Thinner washing keeps the snap in the bristles of a good hand laid brush.
    The residue must be thoroughly rinsed out during each rinse before proceeding to the next bucket.
    pure clean thinner is used for the last rinse and that is thrown into bucket #4. #5 is pure clean thinner.

    I have a series of five gallon buckets that are used for this purpose. We never mix paint and varnish rinses or the brushes used for that purpose. The reason is that varnish brushes must be squeaky clean or the resin will build up in the heel and spoil the brush flex. The same holds true of paint. The trick of getting as much residue out of a brush is to first dip it in the thinner while then fanning the bristles under the thinner. The last thing done is to flip the bush over the fingers to remove any last residue and then wrap the brush in old photo album paper and tie a string around the paper on the ferrule and stand the brush in thinner on end. I never use a spinner as that will ruin the chisle shape of the brush. It is a good idea to use gloves while washing out brushes.

    I use an old gallon Mayonase jar that I got out of the trash at Zerricleback's Delicatessen for brush storage. Every four years or so I will soak the brushes in commercial brush cleaner and gently comb out the brush heels to clean out the build up. Saves on having to buy new brushes if you take care of them in this manner. This is the way brushes were cleaned in the yards I worked for. Standing in a beam of sunlight at a crack in the shop door will allow the brush to be flipped against the hand until no more paint or varnish flakes are floating in the light. We would go through about fiftee or more gallons of thinner a week even so as we painted and varnish a lot of boats by brush work back then. We only rarely use masking tape is if a painter or varnisher had a good eye and a steady hand the act of putting on tape actually slowed the work down!
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 08-11-2020 at 09:00 PM.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Wow. Thanks Jay!

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Gasoline was originally formulated as a cleaner, not a fuel.

    It’s a lousy thinner, but sure removes paint. And it’s cheap.

    I use it, with care and caution.

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I use paint thinner to rinse out brushes. I have 3 jugs going at once. 1) clean 2)pretty clean 3)pretty dirty. 1st rinse in the dirty stuff then spin into a 5 gallon bucket, I use a lot of thinner for the first 2 rinses, since I’m reusing it. Larger volume of thinner=more dilution=cleaner brush. Final rinse in a little bit of clean or new thinner. I cycle each rinse into the next jug down. When the dirty thinner is full I set it aside and let the solids fall out. After a few months I pour off the clean thinner and reuse it. A cheesecloth filter helps. I wash the brush in Dawn dish detergent after the final rinse, as long as I have time for it to dry before I need it again. Brush cleaner works great too, I also reuse that stuff many times.
    I have artist friends that wash their brushes with shampoo and conditioner.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Thinner lasts a long time if stored in a cleaning station. Fivers make it really easy straining it is nice but a luxury that I leave to others. The last rinse in clean new thinner takes care of nerds in the brush. Here are a couple of my fifty plus year old varnish brushes, a Linzer bore hair brush and a Grumbacher sable flat for narrow work. I paid twenty five bucks for that Linzer back in 1953 and the Grumbacher was fifteen back then. Now a good brush is astronomical in price!
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 08-13-2020 at 06:01 PM.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    We’ve got lots of wild pigs here. How hard can it be?

    D04CC181-E8FB-4974-80F7-8B726C94DC8F.jpg

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Quote Originally Posted by bluedog225 View Post
    We’ve got lots of wild pigs here. How hard can it be?

    D04CC181-E8FB-4974-80F7-8B726C94DC8F.jpg
    Weeell, first off you have to train them to sit in a barbers chair.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I hear pigs make good pets.

    11B3482F-7E07-4481-8694-2CBCC60F0F62.jpg

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    How long did it take him to train him to keep still enough he could put his head in his lap and still take a selfie. and this pig's taste in sofas is so-o- 1970s...
    'C'est la vie' say the old folks it goes to show you never can tell

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Quote Originally Posted by jonboy View Post
    How long did it take him to train him to keep still enough he could put his head in his lap and still take a selfie. and this pig's taste in sofas is so-o- 1970s...
    How long? How old is that little piggy?
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  33. #33
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    I keep four numbered 1 quart mason (wide mouth - sealing rings) jars about 3/4 full of thinner, a #10 can for rinsing, and a 5 gallon plastic bucket for spinning. Four rinses, using each jar's thinner sequentially, spin the brush after each, and pour the mix from the bucket into jar #1 when finished. The solids settle out of the rinse jars, and a gallon of thinner lasts a long long time. Pretty much a version of which everyone else posted.

    There may be some painting technique issues. If 4 rinses don't get the brush clean, paint is being allowed to dry in the heel of the brush. I suggest not dipping the brush so deeply into the paint container and shortening each painting session. I try to plan so I am not painting longer than 30 minutes or so to maintain quality anyway. If you must paint for a longer time and quality is not so important, try disposable brushes - for example, quality of Harbor Freight disposables is on the way up.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    Why all the dedicated buckets for spinning? I walk out of the shop, find the garbage can with least amount of crap in it and spin the brush.

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    Default Re: Oil paint-cleaning brushes

    ' Its not easy bein' green....' kermit or van, take your pick
    'C'est la vie' say the old folks it goes to show you never can tell

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