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Life is so busy, and it’s hard to find time to paint, much less, make time to properly clean your oil painting brushes!  I’ve gotten better at this and wanted to share my easy method for getting my oil painting brushes clean, quickly, and the right way.  If you take these steps every time you paint, you will get efficient and it won’t seem like such a chore to clean your oil painting brushes.

*This post may contain affiliate links, and I appreciate you using them but you don’t have to! 🙂

Here is what you’ll need to clean your oil painting brushes:

  • Your brush washing container (the one with artist quality odorless mineral spirits and a screen)
  • A sink with running water or water hose
  • Liquid Dish soap
  • Murphy’s Oil Soap
  • A baby food jar or a tennis ball cut in half (or both)
  • Paper towels or regular old hand towel.


Be sure to watch the video at the end!

Step 1:  Loosen up all the thick globby paint out of your bristles by using your brush washing container with the screen inside and odorless mineral spirits.  The screen will help knock off all the thick paint and let the pigments of the paint fall to the bottom of the jar.  Do this step to all of them and lay them on a paper towel or a regular old towel.  The whole process goes more quickly if you do each step in batches.  Sometimes I have a LOT of paint brushes to clean.

Step 2:  Pour some of the liquid Murphy’s Oil Soap into the tennis ball half or the baby food jar.  You can also use the spray kind and spray some into your ball or jar.  Note:  I prefer the kind in the bottle because it is more concentrated and gets the job done easier.

Step 3:  Swirl each brush around the smooth curved surface of the ball or bottom edges of the baby food jar.  This lets you press down hard on the paint brush bristles without damaging the brush.  Do this step to each brush and lay back on the paper towel.

Step 4:  Squirt quite a lot of dish soap into the palm of your hand and swirl each brush around in the soap until the bristles are looking clean and soft.  You won’t see any color coming off in your hand if they are truly clean.


Step 5:  Rub the dish soap down the handle and around the ferrule (the metal part of the brush) to get it clean also.  Then proceed to rinsing all the Murphy’s Oil Soap and the Dish Soap off the brush.

Step 6:  Lay the brushes flat on a towel.  An even better way to lay them there would be at an incline with the bristles pointed down to let the water run out of the ferrule.   Note:  When your brushes are wet, don’t set them upside down in a jar with the bristles pointed up.  This causes the water to settle and sit down in the glue inside the ferrule.  That glue is what holds the bristle in and constant moisture causes your bristles to start coming out.

Please Note:  There is a “lazy man’s way.”  If you can’t take all these steps to clean your oil painting brushes each time you paint, you can at least put them in a small jar with some Murphy’s Oil Soap until you have the chance to run them through the cleaning steps above.

I hope you learned exactly how to clean your oil painting brushes in this tutorial!  Happy Painting!

Would you like a FREE Course?  Click Here to Enroll in my Getting Started with Oil Painting course!  I’ll teach you everything you need to know about supplies, materials, and two approaches to oil painting.

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