2 Best Ways to Cleaning Oil Brushes Without Turpentine (2023)

2 Best Ways to Cleaning Oil Brushes Without Turpentine (1)

Preserving the lifespan of your oil paint brushes is no small feat. In order to get the most out of your beautiful paintbrushes, you need to treat them well. Taking care of your paintbrushes involves a few key steps. However, the most important factor is knowing how to clean an oil paintbrush. Keeping your paintbrushes clean can be hard work, but it is absolutely worth the effort. Making sure that you clean oil-based paint brushes without paint thinner can allow them to last you for years.

A common approach to cleaning oil paint brushes is the use of turpentine or other oil paint thinner. This is effective but comes with its own set of problems. The majority of people do not like to expose themselves to these harsh chemicals on a regular basis. Oil paint thinners come with moderate risks if you are exposed to them frequently, particularly in areas with poor ventilation. While some do not mind this, others are looking for alternative methods. Knowing how to clean an oil paintbrush without using these toxins is something that every painter should know.

No one wants to be breathing in chemicals on a regular basis. This is problematic when brushes need to be cleaned every single day. While some swear that nothing works better than paint thinner, there are many alternate options available. This gives you the opportunity to preserve your precious paint brushes without necessarily having to risk your health. Results may vary depending on the brushes and paint, so feel free to experiment!

Using baby oil is a great alternative to cleaning your oil paint brushes

When you think about the process of how to clean oil-based paint brushes without paint thinner, it likely never occurred to you to use oil. This might seem a bit counterintuitive, but it’s actually remarkably effective. The reason why you can’t rinse oil paint brushes off with water alone is because of the oil. Since the paints have oil in them, the oil base naturally repels the water. This is what makes using a secondary kind of oil so brilliant. The baby oil method allows you to clean the brushes without using water until the work is mostly done.

In order to use this method, you will need to purchase some baby oil. Baby oil has a variety of health benefits and is safe to touch daily. In fact, this product is known for having several benefits to the skin. Most variations of baby oil include additional vitamins, which can be nourishing for skin after a long day of painting. This is a useful type of oil to keep on hand around the house. It is even a mild antiseptic that can help keep your brushes combat germs!

How to Use Baby Oil to Clean Your Brushes

To begin this method, you will want to coat your paintbrushes in baby oil. Do your best to make sure that the baby oil is spread across the brush. It is important to work the oil into the hairs to help them push away the paint. Your primary focus here will be to make sure that every bristle has been touched by the baby oil. This will help you get the most paint off quickly.

After you have coated the brush, you will start cleaning the bristles. Begin to use your fingers or a soft cloth to wipe the extra oil and paint from the hairs. Avoid breaking any bristles during this process. The best approach here is to make sure that you are slow and methodical. Focus on wiping from the base of the hairs to their tips in order to get any lingering paint. This will help to ensure that you don’t leave any behind.

(Video) How to Clean Oil Brushes Without Turpentine || Latells

It is likely that you will need to repeat the last couple of steps for the best results. After you wipe the bristles, you will need to add more oil and begin again. This will likely take a few rounds of the process before you get to where you want to be. Fortunately, baby oil is relatively cheap, making it an ideal option for this process.

Do This After Cleaning

After most of the paint has been cleaned from the brushes, you are ready to begin the final step. Once they are looking good, you can give them a slight soak in water with dish soap. To avoid damaging your brushes, use a small amount of dish soap. The dish soap will allow the water to penetrate the oil and remove the remaining paint. Once this is done, you can leave the paintbrushes out to dry.

2 Best Ways to Cleaning Oil Brushes Without Turpentine (3)

Linseed oil is another great alternative to clean your oil paintbrushes.

This oil method is ideal for artists looking to sound a little more fancy. Linseed oil is another friendly oil option to cleaning oil paint brushes easily. In fact, linseed oil is found in both paints and soaps alike. Perhaps this is what makes this kind of oil such a great option for your paintbrush cleaning needs. When you are learning how to clean an oil paintbrush, this is another safe alternative to oil paint thinners!

(Video) 3 Ways to Clean Oil Paintbrushes without Paint Thinner #shorts

Benefits of Linseed Oil

There are many benefits to linseed oil. It is a product that is known for uses from both product and paint perspective. This oil type is a known base for many products including paints, varnishes, and stains. It is also known for its impacts on skin and heart health. In fact, many believe that it has cancer-fighting properties! Most people don’t realize that linseed oil is actually commonly known as flaxseed oil.

This method is particularly effective for most people because it's an easy everyday ingredient. In fact, given the health craze with flaxseed oil, it is readily available at your local grocery store. You can even buy it in bulk for an incredibly low price. Linseed oil is a quick and easy alternative to hazardous paint thinners because of its profound versatility.

Using Linseed Oil to Clean Your Oil Paint Brushes

To begin this process, you will first need to take your linseed oil and pour some on a piece of paper. This is most effective when you use any kind of rough paper rather than traditional printer paper. Place the brush bristles in the linseed oil. After you have soaked one side, begin to rotate the brush. Your goal here is to get as much oil on the brush as possible. Take care to effectively coat all of the bristles for the best possible results.

After the brush is thoroughly coated, you have a couple of options. You can repeat the previous process of rubbing off the excess oil and pigment until the brush is clean. However, if you are looking for more fun in cleaning oil paint brushes, you can paint instead. This is an effective method that allows you to get all of the hard to reach places. You will simply continue the process of coating the brush and then painting. This process can be continued until pigment stops coming off of the brush.

To conclude this process, you can paint until you no longer see any signs of pigment. However, if you would like to add a bonus step, you can always use soap and water. Just like with the baby oil, a little soap and water scrub can keep your brushes in pristine condition. This allows you to remove the majority of the pigment first. Afterward, you can top it all off with some dish soap and water!

Conclusion

Knowing how to clean an oil paintbrush is an important way to keeping them for the long term. By cleaning your brushes, you will maintain the structural integrity of the bristles. This means that you will not risk damage to the bristles by allowing paint to adhere to them. If you are looking to keep a smooth and even stroke, cleaning your brushes is absolutely key.

(Video) How To Clean Paint Brushes (Oil & Acrylic) With And Without Solvent

Failing to clean oil paint off brushes can ruin them very quickly. In fact, leaving paint on your brushes overnight is a near-death sentence that few come back from. In order to protect your investment, you will want to keep the bristles clean and healthy. This will allow you to use them for extensive periods of time. It will also protect them from additional wear and tear.

Whatever method you choose, make sure that it feels right for you. There are plenty of methods available that allow an alternative to paint thinners. For the sake of preserving your health and the integrity of your brushes, a more natural approach can be beneficial. You will never regret choosing a healthier alternative for your creative process!

If you want a BONUS tip to cleaning your oil paint brushes without turpentine, go here.

FAQs

How do you clean oil brushes without turpentine? ›

Fill a small cup or jar with regular (non-foaming) dish soap so it is slightly deeper than the head of your brush. Mix your brush in the soap, coating as many bristles as possible. Remove brush and wipe on a paper towel or newspaper.

How do you clean oil paint brushes without solvent? ›

Use drying oils such as linseed, safflower, walnut or poppy oil to clean brushes during the painting session. This is because the oil used to clean the brush will inevitably get into the painting and needs to dry like normal paint and mediums to form stable paint layers.

What is the best way to clean oil brushes? ›

Solvents, such as turpentine, paint thinner, and mineral spirits, are the most common brush cleaners for oil painters. All three options are incredibly effective, but they do have toxic properties. When using solvents to clean brushes, be sure to do so in a well-ventilated area.

How do you clean oil paint brushes naturally? ›

A simple, safe, non-toxic way to clean oil paint out of your brush without using any harsh solvents. Stage 1: Mineral Oil or Baby Oil Stage 2: Mineral Oil and Liquid Detergent Stage 3: Liquid Detergent and Water Nore more mineral spirits or turpentine; just soap and baby oil.

Can you use nail polish remover to clean oil paint brushes? ›

I have found an easy way to clean up my paintbrushes that have left over, hardened paint in the bristles. Now, I do work with acrylics, so I really couldn't tell you the results with oils. I had a bottle of nail polish remover, so I tried it, and to my findings it does work well. Now I can use my paint brush again!

What can I use instead of turpentine? ›

Gamsol is an excellent solvent for thinning oil paints and other media and is available in 32-ounce and 1-liter bottles. This odorless, nontoxic solvent is safer than turpentine both for painters and for the environment. The clear fluid won't alter the integrity of media and oil paints it's mixed with.

Can I use rubbing alcohol to clean my oil paint brushes? ›

Take a small container and add rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer to it. Place brushes in the liquid and allow to sit for an hour or so, rinse and lay the brushes flat to dry. You can leave the brushes in longer if they have dried paint on them.

Can you use vinegar to clean oil paint brushes? ›

Most people use oils or solvents to clean their oil paintbrushes. Vinegar is best used for the softening of dried paint on brushes. To do this, soak your brush in vinegar for about an hour, then leave your brush in a saucepan of simmering vinegar for a few extra minutes. Rinse before use.

Can you clean oil paint brushes with dish soap? ›

You might be surprised, but Dawn dish soap is actually the BEST for removing oil paint from your brushes. Pour a quarter size amount of soap in your palm, take your dirty brush and scrub into the soap in circular motions. Press and scrub really hard. Rinse your brush, and repeat until the soap suds are clear.

Can you clean oil based brushes with water? ›

Remember that oil is impervious to water. That means that if you just take your oil paint brush and put it in water, the water is going to bead right off of it. So what we need to do is break down the oil with soap and then wash it.

Can you wash oil brushes in water? ›

Now it's time for the how to wash oil paint brushes part using soap and warm water for extra cleaning and washing! Run or dip your brush quickly under warm water. Then drag it back and forth across your soap bar to lather it up, don't push but instead use pulling motions.

Can you use Dawn to clean oil paint brushes? ›

The Dawn liquid quickly and easily removes oil paint from my brushes. When using the dish detergent, I squeeze out some soap into the bottom of the sink, and rub the brushes in the soap puddle to coat them thoroughly.

Can I clean my oil paint brushes by coconut oil? ›

Can You use Coconut Oil as a Paint Brush Cleaner? You can use coconut oil and other vegetable oils to clean paintbrushes. Remove excess paint and then dip into or rub some oil onto the bristles. Wipe and repeat if necessary, then wash with some soap and water.

Is it OK to let paint brushes soak in water? ›

Do not soak. Once the bristles are clean, use a Purdy Brush Comb or Brush and Roller Cleaner to straighten bristles and place in its protective keeper.

Can you clean oil paint brushes with vegetable oil? ›

Cleaning Brushes with Oil

Another way to avoid using solvents in the clean up operation following an oil painting session is to use oil. For cleaning, you can actually use vegetable oil from the supermarket, which will help keep costs down.

Can I use acetone instead of turpentine? ›

Turpentine and acetone are similar chemical solvents that can be used for many of the same industrial applications as a solvent or cleaning agent. Both turpentine and acetone can be used as additives in paint thinners, stripping agents, and lacquers.

What household items can you use to clean paint brushes? ›

All you'll need to clean your brushes is some warm water or mild dish soap. Clean the brush with the appropriate solvent for the type of paint you've been using. If you used oil-based paint, you'll be cleaning your brushes with mineral spirits or turpentine.

Can isopropyl alcohol clean brushes? ›

The Isopropyl Alcohol acts an instant brush refresher to kill the bacteria and disinfect the brush. When cleaning brushes we recommend using a 70% grade so it is not harsh on the skin. Pour the Isopropyl Alcohol into a small bowl. Dip the brush into the bowl, and move it around for about 10 to 20 seconds.

Will WD 40 clean paint brushes? ›

Once the brushes have been washed with water, put some WD-40 multi-use on the bristles and the ring nut. Then wipe clean to get rid of any paint and rust. If using natural bristle brushes, use WD-40 on the bristles to keep them from drying out after cleaning.

Does vinegar damage oil paint? ›

Any sort of household detergent can damage your painting by removing the paint. This applies to other substances such as vinegar, lemon juice, and rubbing alcohol that have been spouted as DIY hacks for cleaning oil paintings.

Does baby oil clean oil paint brushes? ›

Baby oil and linseed oil works well in cleaning your oil paint brushes. Aside from cleaning, it also conditions the brush bristles. Wipe off the excess oil paint from the brush with a paper towel or rag.

Can I clean oil brushes in olive oil? ›

Olive oil is a non-drying variant of oil and helps clean paint brushes in and out. The cleaning action requires you to soak the paintbrush in a cup of olive oil and let it sit for some time. This will loosen the color that can be wiped off using cloth or paper.

What is the easiest way to remove oil paint? ›

Oil-based paint, once dried, is a difficult paint finish to remove. A solvent must be used to dissolve the paint layer after layer. Scrubbing with paint thinner or mineral spirits is one way to do it and using a chemical paint stripper is another way.

Does bread clean oil paintings? ›

Did you know you can also clean an oil painting with bread? The spongy, tacky surface of fresh bread is surprisingly well suited to pick up dust and grime. Cut a large piece of doughy bread. Make sure both the piece of bread and the painting are dry.

Can you use vinegar to clean oil paint brush? ›

Most people use oils or solvents to clean their oil paintbrushes. Vinegar is best used for the softening of dried paint on brushes. To do this, soak your brush in vinegar for about an hour, then leave your brush in a saucepan of simmering vinegar for a few extra minutes. Rinse before use.

Can you use vegetable oil to clean oil paint off brushes? ›

Cleaning Brushes with Oil

Another way to avoid using solvents in the clean up operation following an oil painting session is to use oil. For cleaning, you can actually use vegetable oil from the supermarket, which will help keep costs down.

Can I use water to clean oil paint off brushes? ›

Use solvent (paint thinner) to clean oil paint from paintbrushes; soap and water won't work. Cleaning paintbrushes before the paint has a chance to dry on them is the best way to keep your equipment in good shape.

What is the easiest way to clean oil paint? ›

First, put some Gamblin Odorless Solvent (or whatever paint thinner you use) in a cup or jar and rinse your brushes briefly through it. Then gently wipe them down using paper towels or newspaper (I prefer paper towels, as they seem to be gentler on the brushes).

Can baby oil clean oil paint brushes? ›

Baby oil and linseed oil works well in cleaning your oil paint brushes. Aside from cleaning, it also conditions the brush bristles. Wipe off the excess oil paint from the brush with a paper towel or rag.

What liquid is used to clean paint brushes? ›

Clean the Brush With Solvent

All you'll need to clean your brushes is some warm water or mild dish soap. Clean the brush with the appropriate solvent for the type of paint you've been using. If you used oil-based paint, you'll be cleaning your brushes with mineral spirits or turpentine.

Does alcohol ruin paint brushes? ›

RUBBING ALCOHOL: You can use rubbing alcohol to remove dried on acrylic paint. However, this can dry out the brush hairs and you'll need to finish the cleaning job with the bar of moisturizing soap as mentioned above.

Can you wash oil paint with soap and water? ›

Brush soap or ivory soap will emulsify (break down) the oil in the paint, which will help us to remove and wash away any paint with water. Remember that oil is impervious to water. That means that if you just take your oil paint brush and put it in water, the water is going to bead right off of it.

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