How to Clean up Painting Tools

Always thoroughly clean paintbrushes, rollers and pads after each painting session in all your residential and commercial painting jobs. Use cold water to wash off water-based paint immediately and never leave any of your painting tools to soak in water.

Check on the paint tin to see what solvent is needed. Some paints require special thinners to remove them. Buy the necessary solvent at the same time as you buy the paint. Acrylic-based paint needs only clean water, plus soap or detergent. Other paints may need mineral turpentine or paint thinners. You can also use a proprietary brush cleaner.
Never wash brushes and rollers where waste water can run off into a drain of sewer. It is both damaging to the environment, as well as being illegal in many areas.


Leaving a brush loaded with paint
Pads, rollers and trays must not be left loaded with paint, but you can keep a wet brush or roller sleeve for an hour or two so long as you wrap it in aluminium foil or a plastic bag to keep out the air.
Cleaning a roller
1.Scrape as much paint as possible from the roller back into the paint tin. Run the roller over the ribbed part of the paint tray and then over sheets of newspaper to remove excess paint.
2.Remove the roller sleeve if possible. Wash under running water, working the paint out of the sleeve with your hands. More than one bucket may be necessary for water-based paints. Let the paint solids settle and scrape them onto waste paper. Dispose of the residue in the garbage.
 After washing the roller, stand or suspend it vertically to dry.

After washing the roller, stand or suspend it vertically to dry.

Cleaning a paint pad
1. Run the pad over newspaper to get rid of most of the paint.
2. Wash the pad in clean water, taking great care not to separate the mohair from the base. The process will be faster if you use a little soap, but make sure you rinse it all out in clean water.

Cleaning a spray gun
Flush a spray gun out with water or solvent as soon as you have finished using it, squirting the waste into a container. When the flushing liquid runs clear, remove the nozzle from the gun and leave it to soak in clean water or solvent to get rid of any remaining point.

Always try to reduce the amount of water and paint that goes down the drain.
With water-based paint wipe off the excess with a newspaper, then wash the brushes or rollers in a bucket of water.
With oil- (solvent-) based paint: use a non-toxic thinner or natural turpentine-based product. Avoid using too much of turpentine-based products as they may contain benzene.
Never pour unused paints or solvents down the sink or into drains. Ask your local council about how to safely dispose of unwanted chemicals. You can also buy cleaning kits, which will help you reduce waste.


1 Gently scrape excess paint from a brush onto cardboard or absorbent paper. Use the back of a knife and work from the heel (the base of the bristles) to the tip. Clean off a solvent based paint with mineral turpentine or paint thinners. Allow the dirty liquid to settle before decanting clear liquid to use tor the next brush. Leftover turps and solvent should be correctly disposed of at a waste station. 2 Wash water-based paint out of a brush under a running tap over a bucket. Rub a little soap or washing up liquid into the bristles and rinse in clean water.
3 All brushes will benefit from a final wash in soap and a rinse in clean water. Use your fingers to work out any remaining paint. Once a brush is clean, shake it vigorously outdoors to get rid of excess water. When the paintbrush is dry, slip a loose rubber band over the tip of the bristles to hold them together and keep the brush in shape for future use.

Leave clean brushes and rollers to dry and then wrap them in brown paper or lint-free cloth, such as old sheeting. Store the tools flat in a warm dry place.
Paint pads are an awkward shape to wrap, so store them in sealed plastic bags to keep off dust.

A brush which has not been cleaned well after use will become hard. The best way to soften a brush is to use lacquer thinners or a proprietary brush restorer, following the instructions on the pack. Tease out any paint particles in the base of the brush with a fine brass suede brush. Use a restored paintbrush for rough painting work only.