How To Clean Latex Off Paint Brushes? (6 Methods)

Cleaning latex paintbrushes after paint application is one task that DIYers don’t look forward to. This is because the latex paint would have dried on the paintbrushes making it difficult to clean them.

But this is only difficult if you don’t know the best method to clean the paintbrushes. Luckily, this post reveals 3 effective methods to clean your latex paintbrushes after application including household items that work. Let’s dive in.

Do You Have To Clean Latex Paintbrush After Each Use Or Coat?

You don’t have to clean latex paintbrushes after each use or coat because cleaning the latex paintbrushes too frequently can deform the bristles of the paintbrush. Instead, you can wrap and seal the paintbrush with a plastic wrap, nylon bag, or aluminum foil. Any of these will keep the paintbrush fresh for several hours while you wait between coats.

After applying the first coat of latex paint, it is recommended to clean the latex paintbrushes immediately – this is to remove the leftover latex paint on the bristles. If you don’t remove the leftover latex paint, it will dry on the paintbrush causing the bristles to become hard and rigid. When this happens, you won’t get smooth coverage with the paintbrush anymore.

However, you don’t have to clean the paintbrush after each use because you can easily preserve the soft nature of the bristles. After applying each coat, wrap the bristles of the paintbrush with a plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or nylon. Ensure that air doesn’t get in and seal the wrap or nylon with tape. You can keep it in the fridge after.

Since you already sealed the paintbrush, air can’t get in and as such, the latex paint on the paintbrush can’t get dry. This will preserve the latex paintbrush till you are ready to apply the next coat. You should know that preserving latex paintbrushes only works between coats. When you are done with the final coat, you should clean the paintbrush.

If you decide to preserve the paintbrush till the next time you want to take on a paint job, you’ll ruin the brush because preservation only works for 24 hours at best. So, you should clean the latex paintbrush after the final application. Let’s find out how to do that next.

How To Clean Latex Paintbrushes?

There are different ways to clean latex paintbrushes after application. But, some of these methods can damage the bristles of the brush due to the frail nature of the bristles. So, you need cleaning methods that are effective and safe for the bristles.

Here are the top 3 safe and effective methods to clean latex paintbrushes:

  1. Use Soap Mixture
  2. Use Acetone
  3. Use Mineral Spirits

This guide will show you how each of these methods works and how to use them.

1. Use Soap Mixture To Clean The Latex Paintbrush

Use Soap Mixture To Clean The Latex Paintbrush

The first and safest method to clean your latex paintbrush after application is to use a soap mixture. This method only works immediately after applying the final coat and while the latex paint is still wet.

Latex paint is water-based and as such can be dissolved in water and soap mixture when wet. The idea here is to dissolve the wet latex paint with the soap mixture and clean the bristles after.

For this method, you’ll need these tools and supplies:

  • Mild detergent or dish soap
  • A bucket of warm water
  • A small comb
  • Rags
  • A soft toothbrush

Here is a guide:

  1. Mix some dish soap in a bowl of warm water to form the soap mixture.
  2. Dip the latex paintbrush in the soap mixture for a few minutes.
  3. Use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the bristles – this helps to remove the latex paint.
  4. Use the comb to stroke the bristles – the comb helps to remove latex paint between the tiny bristles.
  5. When the paint is off, use a clean rag to wipe the paintbrush and stroke again with the comb.
  6. If there is leftover latex paint, repeat the steps above.
  7. Rinse the latex paintbrushes with warm water and let them dry.

Tip: Don’t use detergents with bleach or corrosive substances on the latex paintbrush.

2. Use Acetone

Use Acetone

Another method to clean latex paintbrushes is to use acetone. Acetone is an alcohol-based solvent that dissolves paints easily.

You can use this method on wet and dry latex paintbrushes. The idea here is to use acetone to dissolve the latex paint and remove it from the paintbrush.

For this method, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:

  • A bottle of acetone
  • Rags
  • A comb
  • A soft toothbrush
  • Rags
  • A face mask

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Wipe the excess paint off of the latex paintbrush with a rag – this helps to reduce the amount of paint on the latex paintbrush.
  2. Pour some acetone into a clean bowl and soak a rag in the bowl.
  3. Use the damp rag to wipe the latex paintbrush and leave for a few minutes for the latex paint to be dissolved.
  4. Use a toothbrush to gently scrub the bristles – this makes the acetone get between the bristles.
  5. Comb out the leftover latex paint.
  6. Rinse the paintbrushes in warm water.
  7. Shake the latex paintbrush to remove excess moisture in the brush.
  8. Leave the latex paintbrush to dry.

Tip: If the latex paint has hardened, you can soak it in acetone for 5 minutes.

3. Use Mineral Spirits

Use Mineral Spirits

The third method on this list is to use mineral spirits to clean the latex paintbrush. Mineral spirit is a petroleum-based solvent that will dissolve the latex paint on the paintbrush so it’s easier to wipe off. This method works on dry and wet latex paintbrushes.

For this method, you’ll need:

  • Mineral spirits
  • A comb
  • A pair of gloves
  • A bowl of warm water

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Rinse the latex paintbrush with warm water – this softens the latex paint so the mineral spirit can work better.
  2. Pour some mineral spirits into a clean bowl.
  3. Dip the latex paintbrush in the mineral spirits for 5 minutes.
  4. Take out the paintbrush and wipe it down with a clean rag.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the latex paintbrush is clean and paint-free.
  6. Rinse the latex paintbrush in warm water.
  7. Shake the paintbrush to remove excess water and leave it to dry.

Tip: After cleaning the latex paintbrush, store it properly so it doesn’t accumulate dust nibs while drying.

Many DIYers don’t know this but cleaning your latex paintbrush too frequently will damage the bristles. When you clean latex paintbrushes, you’ll need a solvent like mineral spirits or thinner to dissolve the paint on the bristles.

Constant exposure to these solvents will make the bristles separate and turn spiky. When this happens, you can’t use the paintbrush anymore. So instead of cleaning after each use, wrap the brush to preserve it. This will give you more years with your paintbrush.

Other Products You Can Use To Clean Latex Paint Brushes

Next, let’s check out other products that clean latex paintbrushes effectively.

Baking Soda

Baking soda can be used to clean latex paintbrushes after paint application. This is because baking soda is an alkaline-based solvent that can dissolve and remove wet and dry latex paint. Also, baking soda is safe to use on the latex paintbrush since it will not deform it.

To clean a latex paintbrush with baking soda, you are to mix a few spoons of baking soda in a bowl of hot water. Then soak the paintbrush in the mixture for 10 minutes.

If the paint has dried, soak it in the baking soda mixture for 20 minutes. After, take out the latex paintbrush and stroke the bristles with a plastic comb. Then wipe down the latex paintbrush with warm water, shake off excess water, and leave the brush to dry.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol can be used to clean a latex paintbrush after paint application. This is because rubbing alcohol is an alcohol-based solvent and all alcohol-based solvents can dissolve and remove latex paint. Rubbing alcohol is also safe to use on the paintbrush and it won’t cause any harm to your skin as well.

To use rubbing alcohol, douse a clean rag with the solvent and use the rag to wipe off the latex paint on the brush repeatedly till the paint is off. If you notice dried or stubborn latex paint, you can soak the latex paintbrush in the rubbing alcohol for 5 minutes before stroking out the latex paint with a plastic comb.


Vinegar can be used to clean latex paintbrushes because vinegar is a mild acid that can remove latex paint.

To use vinegar to clean a latex paintbrush, you can mix the vinegar in warm water and wash the latex paintbrush with the vinegar mix. This will remove the latex paint on the latex paintbrush. You can also mix the vinegar with cold water and heat the mixture for a minute.

Then use the heated mixture to wash the latex paintbrush. If the latex paint has dried, you’ll need to soak the latex paintbrush in the vinegar mix for 20-30 minutes.

But, that’s not all. Check here all the things that dissolve latex paint.

How Many Times Can You Clean A Latex Paintbrush Until You Need To Replace It?

You can clean a latex paintbrush as many times as possible as long as you use a safe cleaning method on the bristles. When you use a safe cleaning method like the ones discussed in this post, you can clean and use the latex paintbrush for several months.

You should know that the type and quality of the paintbrush also determine how often and how many times you can clean it. For instance, low-quality and inferior paintbrushes will give way and turn spiky quicker than high-quality paintbrushes even if you clean them together and use the same cleaning method.

It’s recommended to change your paintbrush every 6 months when used frequently. But, if you are an occasional painter, you can use the paintbrush for years before changing it.

Final Words

In summary, cleaning a latex paintbrush after paint application is an easy task because latex paint is easy to remove and different methods work. You don’t even need chemicals because latex paint is water-soluble and can be dissolved in a water and soap mixture.

You should know that cleaning your latex paintbrush too frequently will damage the paintbrush. So, instead of cleaning after each coat, you can preserve the paintbrush in a nylon bag until you are ready for the next coat.

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