How to Soften a Stiff Natural Bristle Paint Brush

Written by ryan lawrence
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How to Soften a Stiff Natural Bristle Paint Brush
(paint brush image by Vladislav Gajic from

While you should never use natural bristle paint brushes to apply latex or acrylic paints, they are highly effective for promoting smooth, flawless-looking finishes when used with oil-based paints. Unfortunately, natural brushes are sometimes too rigid and stiff and this can make application difficult. If you would like to soften a stiff natural bristle brush, there's an effective technique you can use.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Painter's pot, 1 gallon
  • Olive oil
  • Cardboard
  • White spirit

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  1. 1

    Fill a 1-gallon painter's pot with about 3 inches of olive oil.

  2. 2

    Soak the natural bristle paint brush in the olive oil for about 10 minutes.

  3. 3

    Remove the paint brush and wipe it against the cardboard as if you were painting it with the oil.

  4. 4

    Repeat steps 1 through 3 at least five times.

  5. 5

    Wash the olive oil from the natural bristle brush using white spirit.

Tips and warnings

  • Avoid using lotions or chemicals to try to soften a natural bristle paint brush because this usually damages the bristles.
  • Never use water to clean oil from a natural bristle brush or you may ruin it.

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