How to Get Dried Acrylic Paint Out of Brushes

Imagine this, you have a great jolt of inspiration and want to paint it before it pops out of your brain. You’re all set, but you spot dried acrylic paint on your brushes.

That’s kind of a bummer, right? But do you know how to get dried acrylic paint out of brushes and make them new and usable again?

Yes, you can get rid of the dried acrylic paint from your paintbrush by using several cleaning agents. This includes using acetone (or nail polish remover), rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizing gel, or even washing them with water.

You can even use other solutions like denatured alcohol or lacquer thinner to clean your acrylic paint brushes. However, there are several other intricacies that you must know to clean your acrylic paint brushes in the best way possible.

This includes understanding the kind of stains, the nature of acrylic paint, and the preventive measures you must follow.

Continue reading the article to understand everything there is to know about acrylic paint and cleaning your dried paintbrush.

Let’s get started.

What is Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is water-based. It is typically infused with pigment particles and is made up of binder, pigment, and vehicle. What are pigments? These are the tiny particles that provide the paint with its color.

The binder makes the acrylic paint stay on your paintbrush after it has dried. Most companies use polymer as a binding agent for acrylic paint. The vehicle is what holds the binder and the pigment together.

The significant advantage that acrylic paints hold over oil paint is that it dries really quickly. Paints like oil paint can take significantly longer to dry. That is why acrylic painting is the most preferred form of painting.

However, because of their drying power, you must ensure that you work with acrylic paints swiftly to remove the paint off wood surface and paint brushes preventing them from being damaged.

Check the Bristle Type on Your Acrylic Paint Brushes

To come up with effective stain-removing solutions for your paint brushes, you need to know what kind of bristles are on them in the first place.

These bristles can be categorized into two broad categories.

1. Natural Bristles

Natural bristles include materials like squirrel hair, badger bristles, or hog. These are probably the best kind of bristles when it comes to removing dry acrylic paint.

Why? Because these brushes are highly suitable for chemical washes. Therefore, it is always recommended to buy natural hair brushes.

When it comes to cost, these brushes are usually more expensive than other paint brushes, but they are clearly more long-lasting and easy to clean.

This durable characteristic of natural hair brushes helps you save money in the long run as you wouldn’t need to replace them regularly.

2. Synthetic Brushes

If you own synthetic brushes and you’ve gotten dried acrylic paint on them, you might be in an absolutely dire situation. It’s extremely difficult to get dried acrylic paint from synthetic brushes.

If you’ve tried using water and soap and it hasn’t worked, you might just have to replace your paint brushes. That is because synthetic brushes are not durable enough to handle the harsh chemicals used to get dried paint from paint brushes.

They’ll probably be rendered useless as soon as they come in contact with harsh chemicals. But, some synthetic brushes might be able to withstand these chemicals.

Therefore, you can try using several methods discussed further on to increase the life of your brush. If they don’t work, you wouldn’t have any other choice but to replace them.

Anyway, it’s worth a try.

How to Get Dried Acrylic Paint Out of Brushes?

Using chemicals on your brushes should never be your primary option. We will discuss all the chemicals that can act as cleaning agents, but they will always be a last resort.

Primary cleaning tips include taking good care of your brushes and subjecting them to light, regular washes. Here are some tips to help you clean brushes without using harsh chemicals.

1. Wash Your Brushes Right After You Use Them

As mentioned earlier, acrylic paint dries really fast, and once it’s dried, you can’t use it again. Therefore you must ensure that you don’t render your paint brushes useless and clean them with warm soapy water right after every painting session.

Dip the brush under warm water, and use a paper towel to clean the brush hair. Repeating this process twice can give you clean paint brushes, free of any dried paint.

Try and develop a habit of cleaning your paint brushes with warm soapy water to make them last longer and be more effective.

2. Use a Brush Conditioner

What does a hair conditioner do for your hair? It removes the excess dirt particles and keeps your hair soft. That is exactly what brush soaps do for brush hair.

Using them is a perfect way to remove dry paint from your paint brush and make them last longer. Moreover, many companies manufacture their brush soaps that help make your paint brushes hold more color.

It is basically a soapy solution like a fabric softener that prevents acrylic buildup near the ferrule of your paint brushes. Therefore, you must condition brushes regularly to get the best out of them.

3. Store Your Brushes in the Right Way

Be it storing your brushes while using them or storing them after cleaning. Ideal storage can have a significant impact on their longevity.

Here are some points that might help you store your paint brushes in the right way.

  • Make sure you don’t leave your brushes upside down in your glass jar or brush cleaner. Otherwise, it can lead to splaying your bristles.
  • Lay your paint brushes flat out on a piece of dry towel after you wash them. This will allow the brushed hair to hold its shape.

Ways to Tackle Dried Paint from Brushes

Sometimes, water and soap and regular washing are just not enough. That is when cleaning chemicals come into the picture.

Removing acrylic paint can be a tedious process sometimes, and it might look like you have no other option than to replace your brush. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case.

A newton brush cleaner and several chemicals can help you get rid of those particularly stubborn paint marks and give you clean acrylic paint brushes. Let’s take a look at some of the most used chemicals.

1. Acetone

Acetone is a compound used in almost all nail polish removers. The best part about this brush cleaning chemical is that it is easily available and cheap. You can find it in any medical or cosmetic shop near you.

The cleaning process is pretty simple when you’re using acetone. All you need to do is dip the brush in an acetone solution. The acetone will seep through the brush bristles and remove the acrylic buildup.

The dry paint will simply break down and dissolve in the cleaning solution. Please note that acetone has a highly pungent smell. Therefore, you must keep it in a well-ventilated area and away from the reach of children.

2. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another effective choice for a brush washer. It has a lesser pungent odor than acetone and is almost as effective as acetone.

Therefore, out of the two, rubbing alcohol seems to be the better choice for fixing your hardened brushes. Buy any isopropyl alcohol and follow the below-mentioned steps to remove hardened acrylic paint and get clean brushes.

  • Get a jar full of the isopropyl alcohol solution mixed with water.
  • Dip the brush inside the water-soluble mixture until the ferrule is inside the solution.
  • Allow the bristles to soak into the solution for a bit.
  • Take out the brush and rinse it with hot water.
  • Get rid of the excess water and keep repeating the process until all the dry paint dissolves.

This process will help restore the bristles and add years to their life.

3. Sanitizing Gel

Your most precious cleaning agent, the hand sanitizer, can be added to your art materials collection. Why? Because you use it to fix your dried brushes.

A typical hand sanitizing gel contains both rubbing alcohol and acetone. Therefore, it possesses the same cleaning properties and can help you fix your dried acrylic paint brushes.

In fact, it might well be the most simple way to clean your dried acrylic paint brushes. It is because you don’t have to mix the sanitizer into any water-soluble solution.

All you need to do is put some of the gel on your hand and rub your brushes vigorously to get the acrylic paint off the brushes.

Other Tips on How to Get Dried Acrylic Paint Out of Brushes

If even the above-mentioned chemical solutions don’t provide you with clean acrylic paint brushes, you still have some last options.

Be it natural brushes, or synthetic bristles, here are some techniques that might come in handy while doing an acrylic painting.

1. Use an Old Comb

You can use an old fine-tooth comb to remove the dry paint particles from the brush physically. However, you must hold the brush firmly from the base to avoid any unintentional breakage of the bristles.

After every painting session, try this trick to ensure that the small paint particles don’t accumulate on the bristles over time.

This technique should never be used on a dry brush since it can make the bristles fray off. You must dip the brush in excess water or add some linseed oil to reduce the friction between the bristles and comb.

2. Try to Give Your Brush a Haircut

If nothing works out, you might have to trim off some of the brush hair to salvage the life of your acrylic brushes.

It is true that this method will probably render the brush useless for professional painting, but there are several other ways in which you can put your synthetic brushes to use.

You could use them for stippling in your studio. Secondly, you can pass on acrylic brushes to your little nephew or niece. They’ll barely notice the shape of the brush and would be more than happy to make it a part of their toy collection.

Preventive Measures

This article, so far, has been about how to clean acrylic paint brushes after the acrylic paint has dried. But what if you could prevent your paint brushes from drying paint in the first place?

You wouldn’t have to go through all this hassle. Therefore, you must follow these preventive measures to minimize the chances of acrylic paint drying up on your brushes.

1. Keep a Jar or Water Handy at all Times

Always remember that solid acrylic is not soluble in water, but liquid acrylic is. Therefore, dipping the brush in water can allow the paint to break off.

Keep a jar of water handy while painting while constantly reminding you to dip your paintbrush in water from time to time to stop acrylic paintbrushes from drying up.

In order to take this precautionary measure one step ahead, you can place a separate jar of water close to the brushes you don’t constantly use while painting.

This will allow you to dip those rarely used brushes in water as soon as you use them and avoid dried acrylic paint brushes. With this practice, you can clean acrylic paint brushes and increase their lifespan.

2. Develop a Schedule

Painting is fun, but cleaning can be annoying. However, developing a strict cleaning schedule can save you from going through the tedious task every time sitting to paint your new masterpiece.

Moreover, sticking to a cleaning schedule ensures that there is no acrylic buildup on your brushes. It might take a few extra seconds to clean acrylic paint brushes thoroughly, but it is undoubtedly worth the extra time.

3. Keep a Regular Check

The final preventive measure would be to check the state of your brushes regularly. All the cleaning solutions mentioned above will surely help you if you’ve left the brush painted overnight.

However, the longer the brush stays unattended, the harder it gets to restore it to its original condition. Therefore, keeping a routine check can prevent excess acrylic deposition on a brush.

Acrylic Brush Cleaners You Can Use

Finally, now that you know how to use different chemicals to get dry acrylic paint off brushes. It’s time to look at some of the best brush cleaners’ alternative products available on the market.

1. Paint Puck Paint Brush Cleaning System

This product makes washing brushes extremely simple and quick. It comes with soft, silicon agitators that can quickly get rid of deep dry paint that must have accumulated on your brush over time.

2. Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner and Restorer

If you are looking for a brush cleaner that can effectively clean your synthetic and natural hair brushes, your search ends at Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner and Restorer.

The product is non-toxic and cleans your painting equipment without damaging the brush head. Moreover, the product is biodegradable, soluble, non-flammable, and non-abrasive, making it super safe and easy to use.

Read: Can you put acrylic paint on your skin?


How do you condition your acrylic brushes?

To condition your brushes, you must place them in the conditioner for about 10 minutes and then rinse them off with warm water. Then you can just sculpt them into the shape they were when you first bought them.

How can you fix your brush tip?

To fix your brush’s tip, you need to place your brush in boiling water for 5 minutes and rotate it. You shall be able to notice that the bristles will start to separate from each other due to the heat and the water.

What is brush soap?

It is a special soap made up of vegetable oil and has a hint of citrus scent. It is specifically designed for cleaning and maintaining brushes of bristles, natural hair, and synthetic fiber.

How to get paint out of hair

You can get paint out of hair by simply comping the paint out. You can also use olive oil or dish soap along with water. If these fail, try toothpaste as its abrasive properties can help to break down the paint, allowing it to be washed away.

Wrapping It Up

Keeping your acrylic brushes clean can become a layered task. However, by using the right chemicals and taking regular care of your brushes, you can get rid of the dry acrylic paint and prevent it from depositing on your brush’s surface in the first place.

The article covered everything you need to take complete care of your immaculate paint brushes. Right from using acetone to get rid of dry acrylic paint to developing a cleaning schedule for your brushes, you now know everything you’ll need to keep your paint brushes in the best condition possible.

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