How to Clean Acrylic Paint Brushes: Top Tips

How to Clean Acrylic Paint Brushes

Maintaining the performance and longevity of painting tools is essential for home painters, so learning to clean acrylic paint brushes correctly is necessary. This guide will comprehensively explore various cleaning methods, tips, and tricks to simplify the task and long-term care strategies tailored for beginners and experienced users.

We will cover a step-by-step process of cleaning acrylic paint brushes effectively, along with tips and tricks to simplify the task. Proper storage techniques, preventative maintenance tips, and long-term care strategies are discussed in detail.

Furthermore, we explore restoring damaged brushes by identifying damaged bristles, repairing brush heads, and reforming bristles. We also guide choosing the right replacement brush based on quality and price points.

Lastly, troubleshooting common issues such as clumping or shedding bristles, streaking or blotching problems, and fixing hardened or crusted paint will be addressed to help you keep your acrylic paint brushes in top condition.

Types of Acrylic Paint Brushes

Various paintbrushes are available on the market today, with different materials and bristle types designed for specific applications. Synthetic bristles, not susceptible to moisture like natural hairs, are optimal for acrylics and other water-based or oil-based paints.

Natural Hair Brushes

Natural hair brushes come in various shapes and sizes, catering to different painting techniques. These brushes typically have softer bristles that can hold more paint than synthetic ones. However, they may not be ideal for acrylic painting since the fibers tend to soak up too much water when used with this medium. Some famous examples include sable, hog hair, squirrel tail fur, or goat mane.

  • Sable: Known for its high-quality performance and fine tips, providing excellent control during detailed work.
  • Hog’s Hair: Stiffer than sable but still able to retain a good amount of paint; perfect for rougher textures in paintings.
  • Squirrel Tail Fur: Softest among all natural brush options; suitable mainly for delicate washes in watercolors rather than acrylics.
  • Goat Mane: A versatile option known for being soft and durable enough to withstand heavy usage over time without losing shape quickly.

Synthetic Brushes

Synthetic brushes are made from artificial materials such as nylon or polyester, which offer several advantages over natural hair options. These bristles do not absorb water like their counterparts and can maintain their shape better after repeated use with acrylic paint. Additionally, synthetic brushes tend to be more affordable than natural ones.

  • Nylon: A popular choice for its durability and ability to hold a sharp edge; suitable for both fine details and broader strokes in acrylic painting.
  • Polyester: Known for being less prone to fraying than nylon while still providing excellent control during the paint application on canvas surfaces.
  • Taklon: A high-quality synthetic fiber that closely mimics the performance of a sable but at a fraction of the cost; ideal for artists who want an animal-friendly alternative without sacrificing quality results.

In conclusion, understanding the differences between natural hair brushes and synthetic brushes is crucial when selecting the right tools for your acrylic painting projects. Each type has its unique characteristics that cater to different techniques, so it’s essential to choose wisely based on your specific needs and preferences.

Types of Acrylic Paint Brushes can be divided into natural hair brushes and synthetic brushes. For cleaning wet acrylic paint brushes, squeezing the excess paint before rinsing under cold running water and applying mild soap is essential.

Key Takeaway: 


There are two types of paintbrushes for acrylic painting: natural hair and synthetic. Natural hair brushes like sable, hog’s hair, squirrel tail fur, or goat mane tend to soak up too much water when used with this medium. Synthetic brushes, composed of artificial materials such as nylon or polyester, are generally more economical than natural ones and provide various benefits.

Cleaning Wet Acrylic Paint Brushes

Immediately after use, clean your brushes to preserve their quality and extend their life. Follow these simple steps for cleaning wet acrylic paint brushes:

Squeezing out excess paint

After finishing your painting project, gently squeeze out any excess paint using a clean paper towel or cloth. This helps reduce the water and soap needed later on, making cleaning more efficient.

Rinsing under cold running water

Next, rinse each brush thoroughly by holding it under cold running water while gently massaging the bristles with your fingers. Make sure you remove all traces of acrylic paint from the strands before moving on to applying soap.

Applying mild soap

To effectively clean acrylic paint brushes, apply a small amount of mild soap (such as dishwashing detergent) onto the bristles while they are still damp from rinsing. Rub the bristles between your fingers or against your palm to work up a lather. Be gentle yet thorough in this step to avoid damaging delicate natural hairs or synthetic fibers found in different types of acrylic brushes.

If necessary, repeat these steps until no more color comes out when rinsing under cold water, ensuring that your brushes are free from any remaining paint residue. Once you are happy with how clean your brushes are, press out the extra water using a fresh cloth and place them flat in an area allowing airflow to let them dry.

Remember, proper care and maintenance of your acrylic paint brushes will help extend their lifespan and ensure consistent results in all your future painting projects. So make it a habit to clean them immediately after each use.

Cleaning Wet Acrylic Paint Brushes

Once you have finished your artistic endeavor, it is essential to immediately clean the brushes so they remain in good condition for future painting.

Squeezing out excess paint

Begin by gently squeezing out any excess paint using a clean paper towel. This will help make cleaning more manageable and prevent large amounts of paint from entering your sink or contaminating other surfaces.

Rinsing under cold running water

Next, rinse each brush thoroughly under cold running water. Hold the bristles facing downward so that gravity helps remove the remaining acrylic paint particles. Be sure not to let the brushes soak in dirty water, which can cause damage over time.

Applying mild soap

  • Mild dishwashing detergent: Work up a lather by rubbing the bristles between your fingers while applying a small amount of mild dishwashing detergent. The soap will help break down and dissolve any stubborn acrylic residue clinging to your brush hairs.
  • Baby shampoo or gentle hand soap: Alternatively, you can use baby shampoo or gentle hand soap for an even milder approach when cleaning delicate natural hair brushes such as Sable or Hog.
  • The Master’s Brush Cleaner & Preserver: For a specialized cleaning product, consider using The Master’s Brush Cleaner & Preserver. This brush soap is designed to clean and condition synthetic and natural bristle brushes effectively.

After applying the soap, continue rinsing your brushes under cold water until the water runs clear. Gently squeeze out any remaining moisture from the bristles with a clean paper towel before moving on to drying and storage.

Cleaning wet acrylic paint brushes is essential in ensuring your meeting maintains its shape and longevity. To further ensure the integrity of your panels, it’s necessary to hold their shape while drying them properly.

Key Takeaway: 


To clean wet acrylic paint brushes, squeeze out excess paint and rinse them under cold running water. Apply a bit of gentle detergent to the wet bristles and work up suds by rubbing them together between your digits or against the palm of your hand. Repeat if necessary until no more color comes out when rinsing under cold water again, then gently squeeze out excess water using a clean towel and lay them flat to dry on a surface that allows air circulation.

Maintaining Brush Shape While Drying

After cleaning your acrylic paint brushes, it is essential to maintain their shape while drying. This helps prevent deformation in natural and synthetic-bristled meetings after washing away the residue with warm soapy water. Follow these simple steps to ensure that your sessions retain their original form:

  1. Gently reshape the bristles: After rinsing out all soap and paint residues, use your fingers to reshape the brush head back into its original form gently.
  2. Use a brush conditioner or soap: Lightly brush the tip of your damp bristles over a moisturizing soap bar or apply a specialized brush conditioner. This will help keep the fibers soft and flexible as they dry.
  3. Avoid standing brushes upright: Do not leave your wet brush standing on its bristle end, as this can cause them to bend out of shape. Instead, lay them flat on a clean paper towel or hang them upside down using a clip.
  4. Dry in a well-ventilated area: Place your brushes in a room with good air circulation to speed up drying time and avoid any lingering moisture that could lead to mold growth or damage to the glue holding the bristles together.

Taking care of your acrylic paint brushes by adequately maintaining their shape during drying will extend their lifespan and improve overall performance during painting sessions. Always inspect each tool thoroughly before storing it away for future use.

Maintaining brush shape while drying is essential in preserving the life of your acrylic paint brushes. With proper care and maintenance, you can quickly revive dried-out acrylic paint brushes using various products, such as rubbing alcohol or acetone, hand sanitizer, and purpose-made brush cleaners.

Reviving Dried-Out Acrylic Paint Brushes

These techniques are effective on both natural and synthetic-bristled brushes without causing damage.

Rubbing Alcohol or Acetone

One way to clean dried acrylic paint from your brushes is by using rubbing alcohol or acetone. Dip the brush head into a small liquid container and gently work it around until the dried paint dissolves. Be sure not to submerge the brush as it may weaken the glue holding the bristles together. Once the most stubborn color has been removed, rinse your brush thoroughly with warm water before washing it with soap as usual.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer, which contains alcohol, can also be used for cleaning acrylic brushes that have dried out completely. Apply a great hand sanitizer to your digits and knead it into the bristles until they become supple again. Rinse under running water while working out any remaining dirty residue before giving them a final wash with mild soap.

Purpose-Made Brush Cleaners

  • The Master’s Brush Cleaner: This popular product is designed to remove tough stains from various fibers, including natural hair brushes and synthetic ones. Wet your brush, swirl it in The Master’s Brush Cleaner container, and work up a lather before rinsing clean.
  • Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner: Another option is the Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner, specifically designed to remove dried acrylic paint from brushes. To use this cleaner, pour a small amount into a container and gently swish your brush until the dried paint dissolves. Rinse with warm water afterward to remove any remaining residue.

In addition to these cleaning methods, regular maintenance of your acrylic paint brushes will help ensure they remain in top condition for extended periods. Remember to inspect them after each painting session and store them properly when not in use. Conditioning your brushes regularly with a brush conditioner will also help restore bristles and keep them in good shape.


Investing in Quality Brush Cleaners

A high-quality cleaner removes dried acrylic paint effectively and conditions and restores bristles, prolonging their lifespan. This saves money over time by reducing the need for frequent replacements.

All-Purpose Cleaner

A popular option is an all-purpose cleaner like The Master’s Brush Cleaner and Preserver. This versatile product offers a simple one-step total care process that works on oils and acrylics while leaving a pleasant lemon scent behind. To use this type of cleaner:

  1. Wet the brush with clean water.
  2. Gently swirl it around in the soap until it forms a lather.
  3. Rinse thoroughly under running water until no more suds are present.
  4. Reshape the bristles before laying them flat or hanging them upside down to dry completely.

Natural Hair Brushes vs. Synthetic Brushes

Different brushes may require other cleaning products depending on whether they have natural or synthetic bristles. For example, some artists prefer using specialized brush soaps such as Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner and Restorer, specifically designed for removing tough stains from various types of fibers without causing damage to either natural hair brushes or synthetic ones.

DIY Brush Cleaner

If you prefer a more budget-friendly option, consider making your brush cleaner using household items. A simple solution of warm water, dish soap, and a few drops of vinegar can effectively clean acrylic paint brushes. Additionally, rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer can help remove stubborn paint residues.

Regular maintenance is necessary for acrylic paint brushes to ensure their longevity and optimal performance. They are investing time and effort into proper care techniques like cleaning dried acrylic paint from brushes promptly after each painting session. Storing them correctly when not in use will ensure their longevity while maintaining optimal performance during future projects.

Investing in quality brush cleaners is essential for ensuring your acrylic paint brushes remain in optimal condition. By inspecting and storing them properly, you can extend their lifespan and maintain the highest level of performance.

Key Takeaway: 


Investing in quality brush cleaners is essential for maintaining the longevity and performance of acrylic paint brushes. Popular options include all-purpose cleaners like The Master’s Brush Cleaner & Preserver, specialized brush soaps such as Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner & Restorer, or DIY solutions using household items. Regular maintenance techniques like prompt cleaning and proper storage will ensure optimal results during future painting projects while saving money on frequent replacements.

Inspecting and Storing Acrylic Paint Brushes

This saves money over time by reducing the need for frequent replacements and ensures that you get the best results from your painting projects. This section will discuss inspecting and storing your brushes properly after each use.

Thorough Inspection After Each Use

To keep your acrylic paint brushes in top condition, thoroughly inspect them after every painting session. Look for any signs of damage or wear on both the bristles and handle and check if any leftover dried paint is stuck between the brush hairs. If you find any stubborn residue that wasn’t removed during cleaning, try using a gentle brush cleaner or rubbing alcohol to dissolve it before storing away.

Proper Storage Techniques

How you store your acrylic paint brushes can significantly impact their lifespan and performance. Follow these tips for proper storage:

  • Avoid standing them upright: Storing brushes with their bristles facing up can cause water or other cleaning solutions to seep into the ferrule (the metal part connecting bristles and handle), leading to rusting or loosening of bristle hairs over time.
  • Lay flat: Instead, lay clean acrylic paint brushes flat on a dry surface like a countertop or shelf until they are scorched before putting them away in an organized manner – either horizontally inside drawers/cases designed specifically for art supplies storage or vertically with bristles facing down in a brush holder.
  • Keep them separate: To prevent cross-contamination of colors or mediums, store paint brushes used for acrylics separately from those used for oil paints or watercolors. Finding the proper meeting when needed will be much simpler if you store them properly.

By inspecting and storing your acrylic paint brushes properly after each use, you can ensure they remain in top condition for many painting sessions to come. Remember that investing in quality cleaning products like Masters Brush Cleaner and following best practices will help extend their lifespan even further while giving you better results on all your creative projects.

Key Takeaway: 


Proper maintenance is crucial for extending the life of acrylic paintbrushes. Thoroughly inspect each encounter after use and store them upright in a suitable container, separate by type if possible. To clean them, remove excess paint, use warm soapy water or brush soap, consider using rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer for stubborn stains, and consistently clean your brushes as soon as possible after use to prevent dried paint on the bristles.

FAQs about How to Clean Acrylic Paint Brushes

Can You Use Dawn Dish Soap to Clean Acrylic Paint Brushes?

Yes, you can use Dawn dish soap to clean acrylic paintbrushes. It is an effective and affordable option for removing wet or dried paint from the bristles. Mix a small amount of dish soap with water, gently work it into the brush fibers, then rinse thoroughly under cold running water.

What Liquid Is Used to Remove Acrylic Paint from Brushes?

To remove acrylic paint from brushes, various liquids such as col,d water mixed with mild soap (like Dawn), rubbing alcohol, or acetone for stubborn dried-on stains, and purpose-made brush cleaners designed specifically for cleaning artist’s tools.

How to Clean Acrylic Paint from Brushes Environmentally Friendly?

Clean your acrylic paintbrushes in an eco-friendly manner using non-toxic products like castile soap or baby shampoo instead of harsh chemicals. Rinse the brushes under cold running water while working the gentle cleanser into the bristles until all traces of color are removed.

What Do I Soak My Acrylic Brushes In?

If soaking your acrylic brushes becomes necessary due to stubborn dried-on paints, use a solution of equal parts warm water and white vinegar. Soak them for 30 minutes before rinsing and reshaping their bristles before drying. Avoid using solid solvents that may damage your brush fibers over time.


Keeping your acrylic paint brushes clean is essential to maintaining quality and longevity. By following the steps in this guide, you can extend the life of your acrylic paint brushes and keep them in optimal condition.

In addition to cleaning, proper storage techniques and regular maintenance are also critical components of brush care. It is essential to identify damaged bristles, repair brush heads, reform bristles, and replace worn-out brushes to keep your painting tools in top shape.

John Whitford
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