How to Take Care of Your Paintbrushes in 3 Easy Steps

While a paintbrush can be your best friend when it comes to transferring paint from the palette to the canvas, it can be very easy to ruin it if you’re not careful. And because a good one is expensive to replace, you need to be able to take care of it to make it last you a long time.

Fortunately, taking care of your paintbrushes are easy to do, and here’s how you can keep them around for a long time in three easy steps:

1. Do not let acrylic paint dry on a paintbrush.
If there is one thing that you need to know when it comes to keeping your brushes in good condition, it’s that acrylic paint dries very quickly. As much as possible, always keep the brush wet or moist.

Another part of the brush that should not have dried paint on it is the ferrule (the metal part of the brush connecting the bristles to the handle), as it can also result in the brush hairs spreading apart and looking more frayed.

If you’re not planning on using the brush afterwards, wash the paint off and dry the paintbrush on a piece of clean cloth or paper before setting it aside handle-first. This way, you avoid resting weight on the bristles and prevent them from fraying.

2. Don’t leave your paintbrush bristles-first in water.
Because the paintbrush’s weight will be resting on the wet bristles, this pressure combined with the softness of the bristles can result in the latter fraying or getting worn out faster. Even if the hairs don’t bend because the bristles are stiff, the hairs will still spread out and fray the brush, which will make it less effective than before it was left in water.

If you have to switch between brushes in the middle of painting, place the brush you’re not-using on standby in a way that the brush is touching neither the palette nor the tabletop, and the weight of the brush will never rest on the bristles.

For instance, you could lay it flat on the table, or use a brush holder to keep it in place if you don’t like having paint smears all over your workspace. You could even simply just leave it upright handle-first.

3. Don’t throw away ruined brushes!
While this may sound counter-intuitive at first, a ruined or frayed brush can still be useful to you in ways that you don’t expect.

Crusty or frayed brushes, especially if they happen to be expensive ones, can still be used to apply paint on the canvas in a rougher and more expressionistic way, which can be great if you’re planning on doing abstract art. The key is to know how to use them well.

(Disclaimer: This list is compiled in no particular order.)

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