If you’ve ever wondered how to clean paint brushes with rubbing alcohol, you’re not alone.
Many homeowners use this common household cleaner to clean various surfaces, from furniture to mirrors to glass. But is using rubbing alcohol safe to use on painted surfaces?
In this article, we’ll answer that question and provide tips on cleaning paint brushes safely using rubbing alcohol.
Can you clean paint brushes with rubbing alcohol?
Yes, you can clean paint brushes with rubbing alcohol. Pour a small amount of alcohol into the palm of your hand. Swirl the brush in the liquid until it is completely wet. Rub the bristles on a cloth or paper towel to remove any paint residue.
What are the benefits of cleaning paint brushes with rubbing alcohol?.
First, let’s talk about the benefits of using rubbing alcohol for paintbrushes.
Each time you wash your brush or clean it with solvent, oil and water solvents will be transferred to the bristles (which could eventually dull them). Then you have to rinse very well on paper towels so that those chemicals don’t dry out these fibers.
The drying process is particularly devastating if held too long like this exercise in patience below:
The benefits are immediate, and there’s no need to rinse out all that cleaning fluid. Swipe it off with a clean paper towel right away as best you can (or even better mix it all up with your alcohol).
Then hang the painted brushes upside down on something while they dry until thoroughly dried:
This is why using rubbing alcohol for this purpose really doesn’t “wash” paint out of their bristles but just removes any tough oil deposits before you wash them out with a very good solvent such as mineral spirits.
Can I clean paint brushes well using rubbing alcohol?
Yes, you can clean paint brushes with rubbing alcohol and get great results!
The brush shown below was just used to finish a cabinet project on one of the last weekends we were home in Madison where I’ve been trying this method: We use acrylic-based enamel paint on the cabinet.
The paint is significantly thinner than traditional latex, so it took a bit of work to get really good results, especially with brush strokes in corners and edges where I didn’t want this stuff shifting or bubbling (related: another lesson would be how important it’s to accelerate drying times for enamel paints).
That was not at all difficult because we don’t have high humidity here where we stay after 8 months of winter. Over in Chicago where I grew up, the paint is much more resilient and requires a bit more elbow grease to get good results.
Is using rubbing alcohol safe on painted surfaces?
Yes, using rubbing alcohol is generally safe on painted surfaces. However, always test an inconspicuous area first before spraying or wiping any liquid cleaner onto the surface.
If the alcohol causes any staining or discoloration, then it is not safe to use this cleaning method on that area.
Does rubbing alcohol ruin paintbrushes?
Rubbing alcohol does not necessarily ruin paintbrushes.
However, if the cleaning process is done incorrectly (e.g., too much alcohol is used, the brush is left soaking in the liquid cleaner for an extended period of time), then the bristles may become damaged or separated from the handle.
For best results, use moderate amounts of rubbing alcohol and avoid over-cleaning your brushes.
Can you clean sable hair brushes with isopropyl alcohol?
Yes, you can clean sable hair brushes with isopropyl alcohol. Just be sure to test the brush first on an inconspicuous area of the cleaner that might cause staining or discoloration.
The isopropyl alcohol will evaporate off the brush and it does not leave any residue on your paint. I use a foam pencil eraser to help remove the frictive layer of dried isopropyl alcohol when wet-brushing with acrylic paints.
Where can I buy rubbing alcohol for this purpose and how much should I buy at once?
You can buy rubbing alcohol for this purpose at many stores, such as paint stores or hardware stores. Typically, you will need to purchase a small bottle (e.g., 2 oz) at a time.
Some rubbing alcohol formulas also have an odor and should be used in a well-ventilated area. Be sure to follow the label directions when using this product.
Is there a downside to using this method for cleaning paint brushes?
No. In fact, there are some benefits and we cover them below in this section.
First, removing mold from brushes is a simplified version of using the traditional methods described above.
If you want to use more natural cleaning agents for your paintbrushes (e.g., baking soda mixed with water or vinegar), then simply soak away at least 1 hour before painting on canvas, paper mache, oil/acrylic paints.
Can You Save A Dried Paint Brush?
Yes, if you want to save a dried paintbrush, simply soak it in some cool water for about 20 minutes. This will help loosen up the glue that holds the bristles together and may also dissolve any residual paint.
After soaking the brush, gently remove any excess water by squeezing the bristles and then hang or place on some paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
Are small brush handles gripped with tape or glues?
No. Some brush handles are gripped only by the ferrule (the metal cap on a paintbrush), while some models have pieces of wood, plastic nails, and even rubber stalks around the end to hold them together.
Tape may be used if left-handed painting is your style but this method can loosen up over time as it has been known to break off during use.
Brush handle evidence suggests that brushes were designed to be held with two hands, one on the brush and the other holding a painting.
If you are left-handed or simply find this technique most comfortable for long periods of time – then it is your personal choice to use any method you wish.
What items can you use in the household to clean paint brushes?
There are many household items that you can use to clean your paintbrushes. The most common items used in cleaning paintbrushes include regular dish soap, hydrogen peroxide (10% or 12%), and rubbing alcohol.
These ingredients will help remove any flaking glue that may be on the bristles of the brush as well as any residual debris left by whatever material such as paper, natural fiber, etc.
You should also add a drop of liquid laundry detergent to your paintbrushes before cleaning them.
5 Easy Ways to Clean Paint Brushes
1. Soak the paintbrush in a large bowl of water mixed with a few drops of dish soap for about 10 minutes.
2. Place the brush in a container filled with hydrogen peroxide (10% or 12%) and shake until the bristles are saturated. Let the brush soak for at least 30 minutes, but no more than an hour.
3. Rinse off the paintbrush under running water and wring out as much water as possible.
4. Place the brush in a container filled with rubbing alcohol (95% or 99%) and shake until the bristles are saturated. Let the brush soak for at least 30 minutes, but no more than an hour.
5. Rinse off the paintbrush under running water and wring out as much water as possible.