Cleaning brushes – tips from the studio

Basic beginnings-acrylic art classes-art tuition-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia

Cleaning brushes.  What?

Last week an art-student friend Trish visited to talk about studio matters. She asked about all sorts of issues including set-up and maintenance, storage and equipment.
During our conversation there were quite a few ideas and processes raised that I had taken for granted.
Sometimes it takes an outsider’s eye and questioning to reveal the things that have become habitual. Some are useful and time-saving.

Let me share one with you!


cleaning-brushes-water jar-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia
about 25cm tall

Lucky. That’s what I am. I have another friend who cleared her mother’s shed. Doesn’t everyone?
Probably yes, but in the darker corners of that particular shed were large preserving jars. Her partner’s idea that I might decorate them in an arty fashion meant that they became mine. Unlucky for him perhaps, they made first-class water jars. Without plumbing in the studio, and taps quite a few steps away, their large size was a boon. And there were several.
Equipped with these, who could go wrong?

Cleaning brushes

cleaning brushes-philippa-robert-adelaide-south-australia

I will give you my formula for cleaning brushes when using acrylic paint.
Jar one (plain water) – rinse, WIPE and rinse again. Continue until colour has pretty well gone.
Jar two (water with a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid) – rinse, WIPE and check that there is no residual colour.
Jar three (water) – rinse, WIPE and check. There should be no colour on the wiping coth. Return to an earlier stage if colour persists.

Of course Jar 1 needs refreshing most often. At that time I switch Jar 3 to be the new Jar 1 and Jar one is swished and cleaned for its new Jar 3 status. Jar 2 stays fairly clean for a long time.


It is important that your wiping cloths are whitish so you can check your cleaning progress. Cut-up cotton t-shirts are best. The poly-cotton variety is not as absorbent, but you probably already know that from wearing them. Old, thinning towels are also good if they have lost their lint.

Last resort or regular maintenance?

cleaning-brushes-brush conditioner-Philippa Robert-Adelaide South Australia

Not sure of the category of this brush cleaner but it does come in handy if someone borrows a brush to do some touching up somewhere else in the house or garden (#@%$)!

The label indicates that it is actually a conditioner and it revives brushes that have been used for acrylics, oils or stains. Useful if you find a brush tomorrow you wish you had known about yesterday. You get the idea. Sometimes it’s a phone call.