Quick and Easy Ways to Remove Acrylic Paint from Your Brushes

Acrylic paint is a favorite medium among artists and hobbyists due to its vibrant colors and quick-drying capabilities. However, it can be challenging to keep acrylic paint off brushes when changing between hues. Acrylic paint, if not cleaned properly, can dry and harden on the brush, decreasing its effectiveness and even damaging its bristles.

Cleaning acrylic paint off brushes between colors is an essential step to guarantee your brushes remain in top condition and retain their quality over time. In this blog post, we’ll cover various methods and techniques for effectively cleaning acrylic paint off brushes. Whether you’re an experienced artist or just starting out, these tips can help keep your brushes in top condition and extend their lifespan.

Materials Needed

Before you begin cleaning your acrylic paint brushes, you will need a few materials to make the process simpler and more effective. Here is an inventory of what to have on hand:

  • Water: To thoroughly clean your brush, you will need water.
  • Soap or Dishwashing Liquid: Use a gentle soap or dishwashing liquid to clean the brush bristles.
  • Paper towels or Rags: You will need paper towels or rags to wipe away excess paint and water from your brush.
  • Palette or Mixing Tray: For mixing and diluting acrylic paint, you will need a palette or mixing tray.
  • Brush Cleaner: Utilize a brush cleaner to effectively remove paint buildup and condition your brushes.
  • Brush Rest: For added convenience, you can use a brush rest to keep your brushes off of your work surface while they dry.

Having these supplies on hand makes it simpler to clean your acrylic paint brushes effectively and maintain their condition.

Quick Cleaning Method

For those of you who need to switch colors quickly or don’t have a lot of time for brush cleaning, a fast cleaning method may be your best bet. Here are the steps to follow for an efficient quick clean:

  • Wipe away any Extra Paint: Utilize a paper towel or rag to wipe away any leftover paint from your brush.
  • Rinse Your Brush with Water: Rinse your brush under running water to remove any remaining paint from the brush.
  • Apply Soap: Massage some soap or dishwashing liquid onto the bristles of your brush.
  • Clean the Brush: With your fingers or a brush cleaning tool, massage soap into the bristles and remove any remaining paint or residue.
  • Rinse With Water: Finally, rinse your brush under running water to completely rinse away soap residue.
  • Dry the Brush: Use a paper towel or rag to gently squeeze the bristles of your brush, reshaping them as desired.

This method is a fast and straightforward way to clean your brushes between colors. However, it may not be as thorough as a deep cleaning method for completely eliminating paint residue from them. Therefore, use this method only when changing colors quickly; make sure to do more extensive cleanings periodically in order to keep your brushes in top condition.

Deep Cleaning Method

Wipe-Off Excess Paint: Before beginning the deep cleaning process, it is essential to wipe away any leftover paint from the brush. This can be done using a paper towel or rag, gently wiping down the bristles to remove as much pigment as possible. Doing this helps prevent paint buildup on the brush and allows the cleaner to work more effectively.

Rinse with Water: After scraping away excess paint, rinse the brush under running water to clean away any remaining pigment. Be sure to thoroughly rinse both bristles in order to eliminate all traces of paint residue.

Apply Brush Cleaner: Gently rub some brush cleaner onto the bristles of your brush. These can be purchased from art supply stores or online, and are specifically designed to remove paint buildup from brushes.

Work the cleaner into the bristles: Use either your fingers or a brush cleaning tool to work the cleaner into the bristles of the brush. Work it in circular motions, making sure to get into all of the bristles to eliminate any paint residue.

Soak the brush: Once you work the cleaner into the bristles, place it in a container of brush cleaner and leave it soak for several hours or overnight. This allows the cleaner to penetrate deeply into the bristles and break down any stubborn paint buildup.

Rinse with Water: Once the brush has soaked, rinse it under running water to rinse away any cleaner residue. Be sure to thoroughly rinse both bristles of the brush in order to completely eliminate all trace of cleaner.

Conditioning the Bristles: Once your brush is clean, apply a small amount of brush conditioner to its bristles. Brush conditioner helps maintain soft and flexible bristles, which can extend its life significantly.

Rinse with water: Once applied, rinse the brush under running water to rinse away any conditioner residue.

Dry the Brush: Gently squeeze and shape the bristles with a paper towel or rag before drying them. Be sure to restore them back to their original shape for best results.

It is essential to be aware that some brush cleaners and conditioners may have strong odors and be hazardous if consumed. Carefully read the instructions on the packaging before using these items in a well-ventilated area.

Conducting a deep cleaning method periodically, such as once a month or after heavy use, can help keep your brushes in optimal condition and extend their lifespan.

Tips for Avoiding Acrylic Paint Buildup on Brushes

Preventing acrylic paint buildup on brushes is essential for maintaining their quality. Here are some tips for keeping your brushes free from buildup:

Use a Wet Palette: A wet palette is an efficient tool used to keep acrylic paints wet and workable for longer periods of time. Keeping the paint moist, prevents it from drying on brushes or creating buildup. Furthermore, keeping paint at this temperature helps conserve it by preventing it from oxidizing too quickly.

Utilize a Brush Holder: A brush holder is an accessory that holds your brushes upright, preventing their bristles from touching each other and creating paint buildup between them. This prevents brush bristles from touching each other during application of product.

Rinse Brushes Frequently: Rinse your brushes frequently while working to eliminate excess paint and prevent buildup. This is especially essential when switching between colors.

Use a Separate Brush for Each Color: Utilizing separate brushes for each color helps prevent mixing and reduces the need for frequent cleaning, especially when working with limited palettes. This is especially helpful when working with pastels or other hues.

Use a Gentle Touch: When working with acrylic paint, it is essential to use a light touch when applying it onto the canvas. Doing so prevents the paint from being forced too deeply into the bristles and leading to buildup.

Use High-Quality Brushes: High-quality brushes are less likely to shed bristles or accumulate buildup. Investing in better brushes now can save you both time and money in the long run by reducing frequent cleaning and replacement needs.

By following these tips, you can prevent acrylic paint buildup on your brushes and extend their lifespan. It is essential to remember that proper care and upkeep of your brushes is key for achieving optimal results in your artwork.

What Liquid is Used to Remove Acrylic Paint from Brushes?

There are a few different liquids that can be used to remove acrylic paint from brushes, but the most common and effective one is mineral spirits. Simply pour some mineral spirits into a bowl and dip your brush in it, then use a paper towel or old rag to wipe the paint off.

You may need to repeat this process a few times to get all of the paint off, but it should eventually come clean. If you’re having trouble removing the paint, you can also try using white vinegar or nail polish remover (acetone).

How Do You Remove Stubborn Acrylic Paint from Brush Bristles?

Acrylic paint is a versatile medium that can be used for a variety of applications, from painting canvases to crafting models. However, one of the downsides of acrylic paint is that it can be very difficult to remove from surfaces once it has dried. This is especially true for brush bristles, which can become matted and clumped if not cleaned properly.

There are a few different methods you can use to remove stubborn acrylic paint from brush bristles. One popular method is to soak the bristles in warm water for several minutes before using a bristle brush or toothbrush to gently scrub away the dried paint. You may need to repeat this process several times before all of the paint is removed.

Another option is to use white vinegar or rubbing alcohol to dissolve the dried paint. Simply soak a cotton ball in either solution and then rub it over the bristles until the paint starts to dissolve. Once again, you may need to repeat this process a few times before all of the paint is removed.

If neither of these methods seem to be working, you may need to resort to using acetone or nail polish remover. Soak a cotton ball in the acetone and then rub it over the bristles until the paint comes off. Acetone will also dissolve any remaining residue so make sure you rinse your brushes thoroughly afterwards.

Once you have finally removed all of the stubborn acrylic paint from your brush bristles, make sure you wash them with soap and water (or shampoo) and let them air dry completely before using them again.


What is the best way to clean acrylic paint off brushes?

For best results, combine quick and deep cleaning methods. Quick cleaning involves rinsing with water between colors, while deep cleaning involves using a brush cleaner to eliminate buildup of paint.

How Often Should I Clean My Acrylic Paint Brushes?

It is recommended to clean your acrylic paint brushes after each use to prevent buildup of paint and maintain their quality. Perform a deep cleaning method periodically, such as once a month or after heavy usage, can help extend the lifespan of your brushes and help ensure they remain in optimal condition.

Can I Use Soap and Water to Clean My Acrylic Paint Brushes?

While soap and water can be used to clean acrylic paint brushes, it is not as efficient as using a brush cleaner specifically designed for acrylics. Brush cleaners help break down paint buildup, extending the lifespan of your brushes.

How do I know if my brush is clean?

To determine whether your brush is clean, rinse it under running water and gently squeeze its bristles. If all that remains is water running clear with no paint residue coming out of the handle, then your brush has been properly washed.

Can I reuse the cleaning solution for multiple brushes?

No, it is not advised to reuse a cleaning solution between brushes as this could lead to cross-contamination and reduce your brushes’ quality.

Can I clean my brushes in the dishwasher?

No, it is not recommended to put brushes through a dishwasher as the high heat and water pressure may damage their bristles.

How do I remove dried paint from my brushes?

To easily remove dried paint from brushes, try using either a brush cleaner or mixing warm water and fabric softener in order to soak the brush overnight. This helps soften the paint, making it easier to wipe away.

How should I store my acrylic paint brushes?

Store your brushes upright with their bristles facing up, to prevent them from getting bent or damaged. Alternatively, you could use a brush holder to keep them organized and prevent them from touching each other.

How can I prevent my brushes from shedding?

To reduce the likelihood of your brushes shedding, be sure to rinse them gently and avoid applying excessive pressure when using them. Furthermore, investing in high-quality brushes will help minimize this likelihood as well.

Can I Use the Same Brush for Oil and Acrylic Paints?

No, it is not advised to use the same brush for both types of paint due to their distinct properties. Doing so could affect the quality of your artwork; therefore, separate brushes should be used for each type.


In conclusion, cleaning acrylic paint off brushes between colors is an essential step in maintaining their quality and lifespan. Combining quick and deep cleaning methods helps remove buildup of pigment and prevent cross-contamination between colors.

Furthermore, using a wet palette and rinsing brushes frequently can help keep them in optimal condition. Invest in high-quality brushes and perform regular maintenance to guarantee optimal results with your artwork; with proper care and attention your brushes could last for years to come!


Hi, I'm Asim! I love giving you cleaning guides, tips and tricks that will make your place sparkle and shine. Through years of practice, I've learned effective ways to clean and can't wait to help you. From tough spots to general cleaning, I can help you. Come along with me on this cleaning adventure, where I'll give you tips and tricks to make your cleaning process easier. Let's work together to make clean haven.

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