How to Wash Paint Brushes and Rollers

You can clean latex paint from brushes using a kitchen or bathroom sink but to wash rollers, you'll need a utility sink. The splatter that comes from a thorough cleaning of rollers will be too messy for the kitchen or bathroom. Check the bottom of this page for videos demonstrating how to efficiently clean paint brushes and rollers.

Washing a Paint Brush

photo demonstrating how to wash a paint brush in a small pail

Wash a brush by first scraping it on the side of the paint can to remove all the excess paint. In a sink, use a small plastic pail or food container to collect a couple of cups of warm water. Bounce the brush bristles against the bottom of the pail several times until the water is saturated with paint and then dump it out. Rinse the pail and collect a couple more cups of warm water. Bounce the brush several times in the fresh water and then dump it. Repeat this process until the water remains clear when bouncing the brush. Shake all the water from brush bristles by hitting the handle against your shoe several times or spin the handle back and forth between your palms to throw the water off.

Washing a Paint Roller

photo of a paint roller in a utility sink

To clean latex paint from a roller, first scrape all the excess paint from the nap using the side of putty knife. Remove the roller from the arm and slip it onto a roller spinner. Hold the roller under a stream of warm water until the nap is saturated. Hold the roller vertical and spin it so the water is thrown against the sides of a deep utility sink. Saturate the nap with water and spin it out again. Repeat this until the water coming from the roller is clear.

Pull the roller off the spinner and set it on edge on a piece of newspaper or a paper towel to dry. Stand brushes with the bristles up in a paint bucket or coffee can until dry and then flex the bristles to soften them. Washing your paint tools in this way will help them last through many years of service.

Brush Restorer for Latex Brushes

If you don't clean your latex brushes thoroughly, you will probably have a buildup of dry paint in the bristles near the ferrule (the metal band holding the bristles to the handle) making the brush very stiff and hard to use. After several occasions of letting paint dry in the brush like this, the bristles will become too stiff to be usable at all. This can become very expensive if you do a lot of painting and use professional quality brushes. To restore your abused brushes, try this process.

Set the brush bristles down in a plastic paint bucket. Add hot water to fill the bucket to just over the ferrule. Pour in a cup of liquid laundry detergent and turn the brush back and forth gently a couple times to agitate. Let the brush sit in the water for three days, agitating a couple of times a day. At the end of the three days, pour off the soapy water and wash the brush as described above. Set the brush with the bristles up to dry. If this doesn't do the trick, try soaking the brush again for another three days.

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