Ultimate Paintbrush Cleaning Hack

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If you’re like me, sometimes you just get a little lazy when it comes to getting all of that dried up old paint out of the paintbrush.  You scrub and wash and eventually just say it’s “Good enough.”  Well, over time, all that paint builds up and damages your brushes, and makes your paint job more difficult. 

Well I’ve found the perfect solution for how to clean a paint brush (especially those crusty old ones!).

As I was scrolling through Pinterest one day, I came across a post for 50 hacks for Murphy Oil Soap. I was looking for ways to use it in a spray bottle as a DIY all-purpose cleaner (more on that later!).  Among the hacks was one I had never heard of — cleaning paintbrushes!

It happens every January. I get the itch for home renovations. This year, I decided to do some painting. Our back door entry way desperately needed an update. 

So I grabbed my favorite paintbrush. And that’s was when I realized my favorite paintbrush is in desperate need of some TLC. 

The bristles were hard and crunchy and stuck together. When I wet it, it softened up OK, but I must have been in a hurry when I washed it the last few times, because there was all kinds of stuck on gross paint in the top of the bristles.

I realized I really have to do a deep clean on it this time when I’m done.

Did I mention this is my FAVORITE paintbrush?  It’s a Rubbermaid with stubby rubber handle, kind of like this one.  However, mine has an offset handle that fits just right in the crook of my hand and is so comfortable to use.

I’ve had it since we bought our first house back in 2003 and they don’t make that one anymore.  So I really didn’t want to lose it.  But if I didn’t do something, it was going to turn into a solid paint stick soon.

So I decided to give this Murphy Oil Soap hack a go at cleaning my trusty old paintbrush.

How To Deep Clean A Paintbrush

So when I was done painting and doing all of my touchups (I don’t rinse it between coats, just store tightly sealed in a plastic bag), I gave it a quick rinse in warm water. 

Then I filled an old spreadable butter container with about 1/2 cup of

Murphy Oil Soap and set the paintbrush in it. It was just enough to cover the bristles, but didn’t go up above the metal binding (known as the ferrule).   I swished it around a little and let it set.

(This handy paint cup would work great for soaking paintbrushes, the magnet will hold your brush at just the right angle and height to keep the ferrule out of the liquid.)

I came back a little while later, swished it around and ran some warm water on it. Some of the paint pieces were just flaking off! That’s when I was convinced.


I decided to give it the full two days to work its way clean. I would swish it around every time I walked by, but no real big effort. Like a piece of peeling paint, I just couldn’t leave it alone 🙂

After 1 day, I was able to dig out all of the old dried up paint from the middle of the bristles. I didn’t even know that was in there!  Big old chunks of paint were just coming out.  I used a toothpick after I realized where it was coming from.  Then I put it in a fresh cup of Murphy Oil Soap and let it sit some more.

The Results

After 2 days I couldn’t believe how clean it came, and with so little effort from me. Normally I have to scrub and scrub and boil vinegar and scrub and scrub. And it still doesn’t come that clean. There’s still a rust stain on the bristles but otherwise I’m amazed how clean it came.

Who knew it would be so easy to clean paintbrushes?  And with no awful chemicals or stinking up your house.

I wish I thought to take a before picture, but here’s the final result!

And look at this brush that isn’t nearly as old, or well-used as my favorite little guy.  It looks brand new (and believe me, it didn’t look like that before).

And as it turns out, Murphy Oil Soap already makes a spray wood cleaner.  They even make a disposable wipe for cleaning wood floors and furniture.  This Murphy’s Oil Soap Wood Cleaner and Polish Kit for Wood Floors and Furniture comes with the original Murphy Oil Soap hardwood floor cleaner (and paintbrush cleaner), wood cleaner spray, and wood floor and furniture wipes.

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