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How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes Between Colors In 3 Quick Methods

How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes Between Colors

A painting brush is one of the most important tools in any artist’s arsenal. But even the best brushes need regular cleaning and maintenance.

If you’re an artist, you’ve probably come across the dilemma of cleaning oil paint brushes before starting a new color? Oil paint brushes are a pain to clean, as you have to be careful not to scrape off the oil and pigments that give the paint its color.

There are several ways to clean brushes during an active painting session, but all of them are not cheap or convenient. This article will explain how to clean oil paint brushes between colors based on the application.

What is Oil Painting?

Oil paintings are different from other types of paintings. The most important thing is that you use a medium that is thick. Oil paints are usually made from pigments, linseed oil, and a binder. To paint, you need a paintbrush, a palette, a canvas, a piece of wood, a canvas stretcher, and a paint tray. 

What is the Purpose of Cleaning Paint Brushes?

If you’re using paint and paint brushes, one of the first things you’ll need to do is to clean your brushes. Not only do you have to clean your brushes so they’ll last longer, but you also need to get them ready for use. 

One way to make sure your brushes are in good condition is to clean them regularly. The way you clean them depends on how you use them.So make sure that you clean them well and give them good rinsing. It’s important to be careful with your brushes. If you are careless, they can get damaged. 

Cleaning Your Brushes: How Often

Cleaning Your Brushes

Perhaps you are wondering how often you should clean your brushes?

It is difficult to determine how often you should give your brushes a final clean because there are many variables. Cleaning up after your painting session is the safest practice. Your cleaning solution will deplete faster if your brushes are cleaned every day. You may only need to give your brushes a final cleaning every few days or even once a week. This is because you paint every day and clean your brushes with oil.

Make sure to wipe any excess paint from your brushes and give them a quick rinse in linseed oil. You can also clean them every day at the end of the day or every couple of days.

3 Methods on How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes Between Colors

Method 1 : Olive Oil for Cleaning Oil Paint Brushes

Olive oil is a great cleaning agent because it’s both biodegradable and non-toxic. It’s also a natural preservative that’s rich in antioxidants and antibacterial properties. Although olive oil is widely used for salads and cooking, it is also great for cleaning paint brushes. In this way, you don’t have to rush to the market to obtain it since you can easily find it in the kitchen.

How to do it: 

  • Fill a small cup with olive oil. For best results, soak your paintbrush for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • To remove paint residue from your paintbrush, wipe it gently on an old newspaper.
  • Rinse the bristles with soap and water.
  • Once again, wipe the bristles gently with an old newspaper or clean paper towel. Soak it again in soapy water if there is still paint residue.

Method 2 : Vegetable Oil for Cleaning Oil Paint Brushes

One of the common household items that you can use to clean your oil paint brush is vegetable oil. It may seem strange at first to clean oil paint brushes with vegetable oil. However, this is the most reliable method if you do not wish to use turpentine or thinner.

How to do it:

  • Combine 1/4 cups vegetable oil with 1/4 cups soap (for example, Murphy Oil Soap) in a glass jar or plastic container. Pour the remaining water into the jar.
  • Cover it with a lid and shake it well.
  • Divide the liquid mixture into two containers.
  • Let your oil paint brushes soak in the container for five minutes.
  • Use newspaper or tissue paper to wrap your paint brushes. Allow the paper to absorb any paint residue and liquid mixture.
  • Use old newspapers to wipe the bristles.
  • Rinse the bristles once more with the liquid mixture if they still have paint residue.
  • If necessary, repeat.

Method 3 : Baby Oil for Cleaning Oil Paint Brushes

The benefits of baby oil are more profound than they appear. In addition, baby oil can prevent the bristles from drying completely even if they are left out in the open for a long time. And having a clean brush on hand can make a big difference as well.

How to do it:

  • Using a paper towel, wipe standing paint off your brush’s bristles. Hold the bristles tightly with a paper towel. It should be noted that this method can’t be used with dried paint.
  • Pour 1/4 cup of baby oil into a plastic cup and dip your brush into it. Let it soak in completely. Swishing the brush will muddle the oil, so avoid it.
  • Take a fresh sheet of paper towel and wrap it around the brush’s bristles to remove the oil. Press firmly to absorb any oil or paint remaining on the paper towel.
  • Repeat these steps as needed. If the bristles still have standing paint residue, wipe them off with a fresh sheet of paper towel or newspaper.

Cleaning Oil Paint Brushes between Colors: Important Tips

Tips On Cleaning Oil Paint Brushes between Colors

Oil painting is a beautiful art form that can create stunning pieces of work, but it’s important to take care of your supplies so you can continue to produce great art for years to come. By following these simple tips, you can keep your brushes clean and in good condition, no matter what color you’re using.

Tip 1: Use the right tool for the job

It is very important when cleaning oil paint brushes! For oil paints, use paper or rags to remove the majority of the solids since using water will make them mushy and gummy making it harder to clean. If you’re stuck with lots of dried paint in your brush, try brushing vegetable or mineral oil through the bristles to help loosen it. Dawn dishwashing liquid is also a great brush cleaner and degreaser.

Tip 2: Soak the brush in solvents

This will help soften the paint and make it easier to remove. Turpentine, mineral spirits, and white spirit are all good choices that will work for removing oil paint from brushes. If you use turpentine or mineral spirits, be careful to only let the brush soak for about a minute since these solvents are strong and may dissolve the glue holding the bristles together if left in too long.

Tip 3: Keep your brushes wet

This is easy to forget when cleaning but it’s important to keep the solvents in contact with the paint so it dissolves properly. This usually means keeping your brushes soaking wet, at least until you are ready to wash them when you need them again.

Tip 4: Don’t be afraid of dish soap

Dish soap is a great brush cleaner for oil paints since it breaks up oils and solvents without damaging the bristles. Just make sure to ‘pre-wash’ your brush with oil or mineral spirits before using soap, and rinse thoroughly afterward to remove the residue that could leave spots on your painting.

Tip 5: Rinse with running water

This is especially important if you’re leaving the solvent in contact with brushes for a long time. This will keep the solvent from evaporating and re-contacting your paint over and over again.

Tip 6: Keep bristles in the proper shape

After you’ve finished using a brush, reshape it so that it keeps its original shape for when you need to use it again. 

What are the Pros and Cons of Cleaning Brushes between Colors


  • It makes the colors go on more smoothly when brush is cleaned after every color.
  • If you are using a darker color, it is easier to clean when your brush is still wet with pigment when you switch to a cleaner color.
  • You can keep your paints in better condition longer by cleaning your brush before you put it away.
  • Helps to reduce the chance of bacteria growing on your brushes after use.
  • Very little more water or clean up needed since you can rinse during breaks or between colors of one painting.
  • The bristles stay soft and don’t get stiff and splayed like they will if cleaning is put off until the end.


  • It takes extra time (even if it’s only 30 seconds). It can take a lot of time to clean brushes this way, especially if there are a lot of layers.
  • Brushes wear out faster because usually, more water is used in cleaning.
  • You risk getting pigment where you don’t want it if you clean your brush too soon.
  • You generally need to use more paint to cover the same area than when painting with a very stiff, dry brush.
  • You may have to change colors more often because the previous color will be mixed into the bristles of the brush.
  • If you wait until the end of the painting to clean your brush, you may end up with dried paint in the bristles, which is difficult to remove.
  • It is harder to get every bit of pigment out of the brush, so the color may not be as consistent from one layer to the next.


Q1. What is the best way to clean oil paint brushes between colors?

A: The best way to clean oil paint brushes between colors is to use solvents like turpentine or white spirit. Soak the brush in the solvent for a few minutes and then rinse it off with warm water. Make sure to squeeze all the water out of the bristles. 

Q2. How can I make sure the brush is clean and not mixed with any previous color?

A:  Make sure that no color comes in contact with the brush while you are cleaning it. If there is any color left on the brush, it will mix with the new color, and you will get a different shade.

Q3. What kind of solvents can I use to clean the brushes?

A: You can use any type of solvent to clean the brushes as long as it is safe for artists to use. Some other options include mineral spirits, odorless paint thinners, and paint removers.

Q4. Is it necessary to clean the brushes every time I change color?

A: You don’t have to clean the brushes every time you change colors, but it is a good idea to do it at least once. This will help prevent the colors from mixing and getting muddy.

Q5. How do I take care of my brushes so that they last a long time?

A: The most important thing about taking care of your paintbrushes is keeping them sharp and clean. You should keep the brush in a jar or container between uses, but make sure that there isn’t any dried paint left on the bristles before you put it away. When working, use only as much solvent as necessary and make sure to rinse the brush off with warm water afterward.


Oil paint brushes are some of the most important tools for your artistic toolkit. If these aren’t properly cleaned between coats, colors bleed together, and the brush becomes dull. So that’s why they require regular maintenance, however, which means they need to be cleaned regularly.

Knowing how to clean oil paint brushes between colors means your brushes will be ready for all your different colors the next time you paint. Just follow these simple steps, and your brushes will be ready to go for the next color!

How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes Between Colors In 3 Quick Methods

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