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How To Clean a Dry and Crusted Paintbrush with Vinegar

How To Clean A Paintbrush with VinegarCrusted dry paintbrush in jar of vinegar - how to clean a paintbrush with vinegarHere’s what you need to know about How To Clean a Paintbrush EASILY even when it’s covered in dried and crusted paint.  The secret? VINEGAR!

Paintbrushes can be expensive and I always try to clean them as soon as I’m done using them but if I know I’ll be using them again the same day I usually wrap them in foil and place them in a ziplock bag in the freezer…strange, I know, but that works to keep the brush from drying out.  A few months ago I had to get a new refrigerator so when I emptied the old refrigerator and freezer I came across a paintbrush from when I was touching up my kitchen cabinets.  I intended to put it in the new freezer but somehow it ended up in my bill sorter….and sat there for months.

But here’s how to clean it and make it almost as good as new again! 

*Please note that this is ONLY for water-based paints – please see additional notes at end of post.

Close up of dry and crusted paintbrush

I came across it yesterday and almost threw it away but thought I would see if I could ‘save’ it.  I found this great tip on Apartment Therapy and it really worked!

Dry and crusted paintbrush in glass jar with vinegar - how to clean a paintbrush with vinegar

First, I soaked the brush in Heinz Cleaning Vinegar in a glass jar.

This next step is what makes it all work!

Paintbrush in cast iron skillet - how to clean a paintbrush with vinegarNext, I boiled some vinegar in a cast iron skillet {you can use a pot} with the brush in it and then reduced the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes.  I turned off the heat and allowed the vinegar {and brush} to cool down.

One more step – we’re almost done!

How to clean a paintbrush with vinegar - paintbrush in sink with toothbrush getting cleaned

Once cooled I removed the brush from the skillet and started to work out the dried paint.  I used my fingers and a toothbrush.  At first, I wasn’t sure it was going to work but after a few minutes, it started to flex and bend.  I rinsed the brush thoroughly with water and I kept working the paint out of the bristles.  I did have to repeat the process one more time before I was happy with the results.  I’m so glad I didn’t toss that brush and the best part is I was able to clean it up without harsh chemicals.

Before and after of paintbrush - how to clean a paintbrush with vinegar

IMPORTANT!!!!! The article on Apartment Therapy noted this disclaimer:  Additional Notes:
This method can involve an open flame so only use this for water based paints.

Long infographic with paintbrush before and after - how to clean a paintbrush with vinegar

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