How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes without Paint Thinner – 3 Easy Ways

If you are looking to learn how to clean oil paint brushes without paint thinner, you are in the right place!

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Table of Contents

1 How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes without Paint Thinner – Use Baby Oil

2 How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes without Paint Thinner – Use Linseed Oil

3 How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes without Paint Thinner – Use Ordinary Soap

Every painter worries about how to get the most out of their vital and expensive brushes, just as every workman worries about looking after all the tools of his trade. Paint thinner can be harsh and even harmful at times, and so it makes a lot of sense to learn how to clean oil paint brushes without paint thinner. Turpentine and other paint thinners are of course effective for cleaning your brushes, but not for preserving them in the longterm. If you are using paint thinners every day, in a closed environment such as a studio they could also be potentially damaging to your health.

We hardly need to explain why it is worth the effort to clean your oil paint brushes, that is completely obvious – they will last longer and perform better. As to how, these are our 3 easiest and best ways.

1 How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes without Paint Thinner – Use Baby Oil

The reason you can’t wash your oil paint brushes with just water is probably obvious to most – water and oil actually repel each other and you are using an oil-based paint! If you haven’t learned this from painting you will have learned it from trying to remove oily stains from cooking pans while doing the dishes! 

That’s why using another oil to clean your brushes is the way to go – either Linseed Oil or Baby Oil do the job perfectly. Baby oil is the easier one to get hold of as you can get it in most supermarkets, and it’s fairly inexpensive. Unlike, paint thinners it is also good for your skin and even contains vitamins – as every mum knows!

It’s very straightforward to clean your brushes with baby oil, you simply coat your brushes evenly in the oil, working it into the hairs of your brush with your hands and pulling away the paint with your fingers or a cloth. Try and make sure you get the oil into every bristle of your brush. Perform this process slowly and carefully so you don’t pull out the hairs of your brush, working from the base to the tip of your bristles.

You may need to repeat the process again, adding a little more oil.

2 How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes without Paint Thinner – Use Linseed Oil

Another great option to clean your brushes without paint thinner is linseed oil. This is a healthy oil which is found in a number of different food sources, and even has medical applications. It’s an excellent alternative to paint thinner, although a little more expensive than baby oil. 

This oil is also known as flaxseed oil, and due to the fact that it is so healthy it has become much more widely available, especially in health stores. 

Refer to the previous section to guide you in how to use it to clean your paint brushes, as you need to use it in the same way you might use baby oil. Use your finger or a nice soft cloth to rub off the paint from the base to the tip of the bristle after coating your brushes in Linseed Oil.

Linseed Oil has actually become an easy every day ingredient in the last few years, mostly because of its health applications.

As before repeat the process in order to add more oil, and remove more oil paint.

3 How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes without Paint Thinner – Use Ordinary Soap

It will probably come as a surprise to many painters but dish soap is surprisingly good for removing oil-based paint from brushes. If you have ever seen the Fairy Liquid Ads you will have noticed how quickly and easily oil and grease are repelled by the application of ordinary soap/Fairy Liquid. The application of simple dish soap can actually preserve your lovely brushes wonderfully, helping to keep your valuable brushes in fantastic condition. 

The easiest way to clean your paint brushes with dish soap is to put some washing up liquid in a cup or container you aren’t too precious about. Anything up to about 1/2 inch or a little less is fine. 

Take your paintbrushes and swirl them around in the washing up liquid, taking care to make sure all your bristles are nicely coated in the washing up liquid. Once you have done this a few times you can rinse your brushes with water. 

If you find there is still extra paint left on your bristles just repeat the process again and rinse clean. If you are thorough enough the first time, you may not need to repeat the process again. 

If you are still having trouble getting the paint off then add more washing up liquid and a little water, and scrub the brushes thoroughly (but gently!) with a cloth or your fingers.

Obviously the cheapest of the 3 methods is to use the product which you have already and use regularly, however it is really up to you. All 3 methods are relatively easy and inexpensive. They will save you money in the long run because your brushes will last you much longer, and we all know how attached to their brushes artists are!

If you have enjoyed this article please feel free have a look at this one here:

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Very helpful thank you!!

    1. Thanks so much – glad it helped! Have a great day.

    2. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. Have a great day!

      1. You too & you are welcome 🙏

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