Like anything, paint brushes have a lifespan, but most people treat their brushes so roughly that they die long before they should. A good paint brush should last you years or even decades if cared for properly.
After a lot of use, and maybe not the best cleaning, paint brushes get paint stuck in the bristles and up into the ferrule (the metal base) which can make it extremely stiff. Eventually, the brush is not good for painting anymore and you chuck it in the trash and slap down some precious cash for a new brush.
Sometimes it’s your fault, sometimes it’s your kids, but either way, this trick works great for fixing the problem of a gummed up old paint brush.
The good news: You don’t have to throw your old paint brushes away! They can be saved for just a few cents instead of spending another $15-20 on new brush.
How To Revive an Old Paint Brush
This is so simple that I’m amazed more people don’t do it. My only guess is that you just haven’t thought about it yet. What’s the quickest way to strip paint from irregular surfaces? Paint stripper!
My favorite stripper for resurrecting my paint brushes is CitriStrip. It has a pleasant smell, it’s not toxic like methylene chloride strippers, and it cleans up with water. Long story short, it works without having to worry about growing a third eye or ear because of harsh chemicals.
The process takes about 10 minutes and the brush is good as new. Here’s how I do it.
Step 1 Add Stripper
Pour a generous amount of CitriStrip in a ziplock bag and insert you gummed up old paint brush. Really work the stripper into the bristles and ferrule. Make sure every inch of the brush is covered and the stripper is well inside the bristles.
Step 2 Let it Sit
Wrap the baggy up tight so that the stripper doesn’t dry out and then leave it overnight. Make sure it’s safely out of reach of the pets and kiddos since this stripper has a delicious orange scent that they may not know is unsafe to eat.
Step 3 Brush it Out
The next morning, pull the brush out and dispose of the baggy. Using a stiff metal brush or paint brush comb brush the paint residue (which should be mush at this point) off of the brush cleaning into the bristles as much as possible.
Step 4 Wash it Well
Wash the brush off in the sink or at the hose until you get everything off. Then rinse it some more! The last thing you want in you paint brush is stripper residue which can really mess up your future projects. Rinse the water back into the ferrule and thoroughly into all the bristles. Did I mention you should rinse it well?
After that put the brush back in its husk or cover (if you don’t have the husk anymore read this: DIY Paint Brush Cover) and you’ve got a new looking and workable paint brush again.
Next time, make sure to clean the brush a little better and keep from reaching the point where it becomes a brick on a stick. Take a look at the results below and go save some paint brushes and money this weekend!
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.