Updated: Jul 16, 2019
I have a few brushes from college that are literally 30 years old (yikes), that I still use. How, you might ask, can this be? Well, first off they were really expensive, and I was a poor college student and I had to buy $40-$50 paint brushes. Guess what? Those brushes became important to me, so I took really good care of them. I still do. They are great brushes, always happy to paint when I am. Always willing to hold paint and not leave bristles behind on my canvas. And frankly, I don't want to spend a bunch of $$ on more brushes. So here are a few ideas to help keep your brushes happy, too.
Number 1- Never let acrylic paint dry on your poor brush.
If this happens your brush will sadly never be the same again and you will end up with a crusty mess on the end of a stick. Try to remember to rinse your brush thoroughly in clean water and keep it damp if you're going to keep using it. If you're through with it, clean it in warm soapy water.
Number 2- Be Gentle.
When you're cleaning your brushes never smoosh the bristles down into a cup or sink. Gently rinse in warm water, then add a bit of soap, while softly massaging the bristles with your fingers. Who doesn't like a good back rub? The rougher you are, the shorter the life of your brush.
Number 3- Do NOT drown your brushes in a cup of water.
This should probably be number one on the list. I see it constantly: you're through with a brush, so why not leave it in the water? Well, this is why...your bristles are glued in, and clamped a bit, but if they are soaking in water, your bristles will become loose and fall out. They will also bend and lose their nice shape. Another reason, wood doesn't like to sit in water. There isn't a part of a paint brush that enjoys or is meant to sit in water.
Number 4- Help, I'm in a hurry with a dirty paint brush...
It's O.K, it only takes a few seconds to keep your brush alive and kicking. Just swish it in clean water, gently squeeze out the paint and water, swish it again and lay it down, wet. It will survive for a bit while you go do your thing.
Hope this helps you keep your brushes happy! And keep creating!