How to Remove Oil Paint from Brushes

According to the American Coatings Association, all paints are made up of color pigments suspended in a liquid medium.

The liquid medium in oil-based paints is a combination of organic solvents. Oil-based paint provides superior adhesion to walls and other surfaces, but the downside is that it also adheres strongly to paintbrushes and rollers. While simple soap and water dissolves latex paint, removing oil-based paint from brushes requires a more in-depth cleaning process.

Wipe the bristles of the paintbrush back and forth across clean paper towels using a painting motion. Use the paper towels to wipe as much liquid paint as possible off the exterior bristles of the brush.

Pour mineral spirits into the glass jar to a depth equivalent to two-thirds the length of the brush bristles.

Dip the brush all the way into the jar, and gently move back and forth against the bottom and sides of the jar to dissolve the paint left in the bristles.

Remove the brush from the jar, and invert for several seconds to allow the mineral spirits to drip into the very top of the bristles.

Lay the brush on top of several paper towels, and comb through the bristles with the wire brush comb. Brush in a downwards direction only through the bristles from brush handle to tip to avoid fraying the bristles.

Swish the brush in the mineral spirits a final time to rinse away any remaining paint. Wrap the brush in paper towels to dry.

Allows paint solids to settle to the bottom of the glass jar, and pour the clear mineral spirits off the top and back into the original container.

Things You Will Need

  • Paint brush
  • Paper towels
  • Mineral spirits
  • Glass jar
  • Wire brush comb


  • Clean brushes immediatly after painting to avoid caked-on dry paint.


  • Mineral spirits are a toxic chemical; store out of reach of children and pets. Use only in a well-ventilated area.

About the Author

Connecticut-based Stacy Morgan began writing for eHow in 2009. Morgan graduated from the Porter and Chester Institute of Technology with a certification in architectural drafting.