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Fabric Softener Might Be the Secret to Clean Paint Brushes

A person paints a streak of white paint over a blue wall.

You’re ready to apply the next coat of paint on the wall when you realize you forgot to wash off the paintbrush the night before. Now, it’s stiff and practically unusable. Can you save it? As it turns out, yes, with a little help from your laundry room.

Soaking your paintbrush in fabric softener is one of the best ways to clean off your brush.

To use this hack, wipe as much paint as you can from the brush onto a paper towel or old cloth or scrape it using a comb if necessary. Next, make your solvent. For every gallon of warm water, add 1/2 cup of fabric softener. Now, swirl your paintbrush in the mixture, and the paint should melt off, settling into the bottom of the bucket.

Rinse your paintbrush under cold water and dry it on a piece of old fabric. Adjust the bristles, and you’re ready to get back to work!

Snuggle Exhilarations Liquid Fabric Softener

Wash your clothes or clean your paintbrushes with this cozy fabric softener.

How exactly does this hack work, though? Fabric softener is actually a surfactant. It’s able to change how water behaves, reducing surface tension. Essentially, it makes water wetter.

Surfactants also have two ends—a water-loving and a water-hating end. When they work together, they’re able to pull soiling away from a surface. Basically, this means it’ll make the paint slip right off the brush.

Don’t want to waste fabric softener? Vinegar is another (affordable) way to save your dried paintbrushes. Of course, the best way to fix a dried-out paintbrush is to not let it try out at all. You might have everything you need to keep your paintbrush fresh right in your kitchen.

Kelsey Opel Kelsey Opel
Kelsey Opel is a freelance writer and digital storyteller based in Austin, Texas. She enjoys writing for food, entertainment and mental health spaces. Off the clock, she loves indulging in an avocado margarita and chips and queso at her favorite Tex-Mex spot in town. Read Full Bio »
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