How to clean enamel paint brushes

Written by michael mason
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How to clean enamel paint brushes
Paint brush ready for cleaning. (Paint can with brush image by Sergey Kolesnikov from

An enamel paint is a paint that dries to a hard and usually glossy finish. The paint is normally oil-based, and can also have varnish as a constituent. In the home, enamel paint is used to cover surfaces where there are likely to be high humidity or grease fumes, such as the bathroom or kitchen, since they can be washed down with warm soapy water. Brushes that have been used to apply enamel paint have to be thoroughly cleaned, since if the paint dries in the bristles the brush will become unusable. Unlike water-based paints, enamel paint brushes cannot be washed clean in warm water unless an intermediate step is taken.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • White spirit brush cleaner
  • Clean rag
  • Two empty cans
  • Warm soapy water
  • Scraper or old knife
  • .

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  1. 1

    A white spirit brush cleaner is a product that you can find at any hardware or paint store. Pour about 2 inches into a clean empty can wide enough to hold the dirty brush. Place the brush on a piece of newspaper and gently run the back of an old knife or scraper along the bristles from top to tip, scraping off any surplus paint. Place the dirty brush in the can with the cleaner bristles down, and allow it to soak for 20 to 30 minutes.

    How to clean enamel paint brushes
    Brush soaking in cleaning solvent.. (dirty paint brushes image by hazel proudlove from
  2. 2

    Holding the brush by the handle, work the solvent thoroughly into the bristles in order to free any enamel paint.

  3. 3

    Hold the bristles under a warm tap and wash out all of the solvent.

  4. 4

    Repeat steps 2 and 3 using a second can with fresh white spirit cleaner. When all of the solvent has rinsed out, wash the brush in warm soapy water, rinse, shake free of water, and hang up to dry.

    How to clean enamel paint brushes
    A well-cleaned brush looks as good as new. (full paint brush image by jimcox40 from
  5. 5

    Store the white spirit cleaner used for cleaning brushes in a screw top jar. The paint will settle to the bottom of the jar, and the solvent can be poured off and used several times over.

Tips and warnings

  • Some people may be allergic to solvents, so wear a pair of rubber gloves when cleaning these paint brushes.

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