How Do You Clean a Paint Brush with Methylated Spirits? Tips and Tricks

Are you tired of cleaning your paint brushes with water and soap? If so, you may want to give methylated spirits a try. Cleaning your brushes with this product can help to remove stubborn paint residues and extend the life of your tools.

To start cleaning your paint brush with methylated spirits, you will need to gather the necessary materials. These include methylated spirits, a jar/container, and paper towels. Once you have your supplies, you can begin by pouring the spirits into the container and letting the brush soak in it for a few minutes.

After the brush has soaked, you can remove it from the container and use the paper towels to wipe away any remaining paint. Keep in mind that it is important to handle methylated spirits carefully and in a well-ventilated area. With these simple steps, you can keep your paint brushes looking like new for years to come.

What is methylated spirits?

Methylated spirits is a type of denatured alcohol that has been treated with methanol, making it unsuitable for drinking but ideal for certain industrial uses. It is also known as denatured alcohol, methylated alcohol or spirits, or wood alcohol. The name “methylated spirits” comes from the addition of methanol, a type of methyl group, which gives the alcohol its distinctive properties.

Methylated spirits can be made from a variety of base alcohols, including ethyl alcohol, which is often derived from fermented grains or sugar, or isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), which is frequently used as a disinfectant. The methanol added to the alcohol mixture serves to render it unpleasant and unpalatable to drink, thus avoiding excise taxes that apply to drinkable alcohol.

The benefits of using methylated spirits for cleaning paint brushes

Cleaning paint brushes is often a tedious and time-consuming process, but it is a necessary step in maintaining the quality of your brushes and ensuring their longevity. Fortunately, using methylated spirits can make the process much easier and offer several benefits:

  • Efficient Cleaning: Methylated spirits are a powerful solvent that quickly dissolves dried paint and varnish, making it an efficient choice for cleaning even the most stubborn paint brushes.
  • Cost-Effective: Methylated spirits are an affordable and accessible cleaning solution, making it an ideal choice for DIY enthusiasts, professional painters, and anyone on a budget.
  • Easy to Use: Methylated spirits are easy to use—simply soak the brushes in the solution, swirl them around, and rinse them off with water.

Besides these benefits, using methylated spirits is also an eco-friendly cleaning option. As it is a plant-derived solvent, it is a great alternative to toxic and petroleum-based solvents that can harm the environment.

To ensure you get the most out of your brushes and avoid any damaging effects, make sure to follow the instructions carefully when using methylated spirits.

Overall, using methylated spirits as a cleaning solution for paint brushes is an excellent choice, offering efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and ease-of-use benefits while also being an eco-friendly solution.

Pros Cons
Efficient cleaning of paint brushes Can be harmful in large quantities or with prolonged exposure
Affordable and accessible cleaning solution May not work well on all types of brushes or materials
Easy to use with simple instructions Flammable and should be used with caution
Eco-friendly alternative to toxic and petroleum-based solvents

If you’re looking for a quick and efficient solution to clean your paint brushes without breaking the bank, methylated spirits may be just what you need.

Step-by-step guide: How to clean a paint brush with methylated spirits

Cleaning paint brushes can be a daunting task, especially when you are using oil-based paints. Luckily, methylated spirits can help you clean your brushes quickly and easily. Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Scrape off excess paint. Use a scraper or the edge of a putty knife to remove as much paint as possible from the brush. This will make the cleaning process easier and faster.
  • Step 2: Prepare the methylated spirits. Pour some methylated spirits into a small container, enough to fully submerge the bristles of your brush. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area and wear protective gloves.
  • Step 3: Soak the brush. Submerge the bristles of the brush into the methylated spirits and let it soak for 10-15 minutes.
  • Step 4: Swirl the brush. Remove the brush from the container of methylated spirits and swirl it around in a second container of clean methylated spirits. This will help to remove any remaining paint, dirt or grime from your brush.
  • Step 5: Rinse the brush. Rinse the brush under running water to remove any remaining paint, and then swirl it around in a bucket of clean water.
  • Step 6: Dry the brush. Gently squeeze any excess water out of the brush and lay it flat to dry, making sure that the bristles are smooth and straight.

Benefits of using methylated spirits to clean paint brushes

Methylated spirits can be an excellent choice for cleaning paint brushes because it is a very effective solvent. Unlike many other solvents, methylated spirits evaporates quickly and leaves no residue. It is also readily available and relatively inexpensive.

Things to be careful of when using methylated spirits

Although methylated spirits can be a great solvent, it is important to use it safely. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Always work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Wear protective gloves.
  • Do not use methylated spirits near an open flame or any other heat source.
  • Be sure to dispose of used methylated spirits properly.
  • Do not use methylated spirits on synthetic brushes, as it may damage the bristles.


Cleaning paint brushes with methylated spirits can be a quick and easy process. It is a safe and effective solvent that is readily available and inexpensive. Just be sure to use it carefully and follow the steps carefully to get the best results.

Alternatives to Methylated Spirits for Cleaning Paint Brushes

Although methylated spirits are commonly used for cleaning paint brushes, there are alternative methods that are effective and environmentally friendly. Here are some alternatives:

  • Vinegar: This is a less toxic option for cleaning paint brushes. Mix some white vinegar with hot water and soak the paint brushes in the solution for a couple of hours. Rinse the brushes with warm soapy water and let them dry.
  • Fabric Softener: The chemicals in fabric softener can also help to break down the paint on your brushes. Mix fabric softener with warm water and soak your brushes for about an hour. Rinse the brushes with warm soapy water and let them dry.
  • Dish Soap: Mild dish soap can be used to clean your paint brushes. Mix some dish soap with warm water and soak your brushes in the solution for a few hours. Rinse the brushes with warm water and let them dry.

If you are cleaning oil-based paints, using vegetable oil can be effective. Use a rag to rub the bristles until the paint is removed. Rinse the brushes with warm soapy water and let them dry.


Overall, there are several alternatives to methylated spirits for cleaning paint brushes. These methods are less toxic and more environmentally friendly. They can help to keep your paint brushes in good condition and prolong their lifespan. Experiment with these alternatives to find one that works best for you.

Method Pros Cons
Vinegar Environmentally friendly, less toxic May take longer to clean brushes
Fabric Softener Effective, breaks down paint quickly Chemicals in fabric softener can be harmful to environment if not disposed of properly
Dish Soap Easy to find, mild and gentle on brushes May not work as well on stubborn paint
Vegetable Oil Effective for oil-based paints, affordable May have an oily residue on brushes after cleaning

A comparison table of the different methods can help you decide which one will work best for you and your paint brushes.

Tips and tricks for maintaining the quality of your paint brushes

When investing in high-quality paint brushes, it’s important to take proper care of them in order to extend their lifespan and preserve their quality. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your paint brushes in top condition:

  • Always clean your brushes thoroughly after each use. This will prevent paint from drying on the bristles and ruining the brush.
  • Use a brush cleaner specifically designed for the type of paint you are working with. For example, if you’re using oil-based paint, use a brush cleaner made for oil-based paints.
  • Avoid leaving your brushes soaking in water or cleaner for too long, as this can damage the bristles.
  • Reshape your brushes while they’re still wet and let them dry with the bristles pointing up. This will prevent the bristles from becoming misshapen and prolong the life of the brush.
  • Store your brushes properly, either hanging them up or laying them flat, to prevent damage to the bristles.

In addition to these general tips, there are also specific steps you can take to maintain the quality of your brushes based on the type of bristle material. Here’s a breakdown:

Natural hair brushes (such as sable or squirrel)

If you’re working with natural hair brushes, it’s important to use a brush cleaner that’s gentle and won’t dry out the bristles. You can also use a conditioner specifically formulated for natural hair brushes to keep them soft and supple.

Synthetic brushes

For synthetic brushes, you can use warm water and mild soap to clean them, as well as a brush cleaner specifically designed for synthetic brushes. Avoid using hot water or harsh chemicals that can damage the bristles.


By following these tips and tricks, you can maintain the quality of your paint brushes and extend their lifespan. Proper care and storage will ensure that your brushes are always in top condition, ready for your next project.

Type of Brush Recommended Cleaner Recommended Conditioner
Natural hair Gentle brush cleaner for natural hair brushes Conditioner formulated for natural hair brushes
Synthetic Brush cleaner for synthetic brushes N/A

Remember, taking proper care of your paint brushes is an investment in your art. With a little bit of effort, you can keep your brushes in top condition for years to come.

The Best Type of Paint Brushes to Use with Methylated Spirits

Choosing the right paint brush is key to achieving great results when using methylated spirits to clean them. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when selecting your brushes:

  • Use brushes with synthetic bristles instead of natural bristles. Methylated spirits can cause natural bristles to become brittle and break over time.
  • Choose brushes with firm bristles. This will help ensure that the bristles do not become matted or damaged during the cleaning process.
  • Opt for brushes with a high bristle count. This will help ensure that the brush is able to hold and apply paint effectively.

When it comes to brush shapes and sizes, the best type of brush to use with methylated spirits is dependent on the specific painting project you are working on. However, it is generally recommended to use larger brushes for larger painting areas and smaller brushes for finer details.

Common mistakes to avoid when cleaning paint brushes with methylated spirits

Cleaning your paint brushes with methylated spirits is a great way to extend their life, but there are some common mistakes that you need to avoid:

  • Not using enough methylated spirits: One of the biggest mistakes people make is not using enough methylated spirits when cleaning their paint brushes. You need to make sure that the bristles are fully submerged in the liquid to ensure that the spirits can penetrate the paint and remove it.
  • Using too much force: Another mistake people make is using too much force when cleaning their brushes. This can damage the bristles and make them less effective the next time you use them. You should gently agitate the brush in the spirits, allowing it to do the work for you.
  • Using a dirty container: When you’re cleaning your brushes, you should always use a clean container for your methylated spirits. If you use a dirty container, you’ll likely end up with bits of debris in your brush that will be difficult to remove and may affect the outcome of your next painting.

It’s important to avoid these mistakes to ensure that your brushes remain effective for a long time.

How Do You Clean a Paint Brush with Methylated Spirits?

1. What are methylated spirits and why are they used?
Methylated spirits, also known as denatured alcohol, is a clear liquid used as a solvent and fuel. They are commonly used in cleaning paint brushes because they dissolve paint and help break down dried paint.

2. Can I use methylated spirits to clean all types of paint brushes?
Yes, methylated spirits can be used to clean all types of paint brushes, including those used for oil-based and water-based paints.

3. How do I clean a paint brush with methylated spirits?
First, pour a small amount of methylated spirits into a container. Dip the paint brush into the liquid and swirl it around, making sure the bristles are fully coated. Let the brush soak for a few minutes. Then, rinse the brush under running water, gently massaging the bristles to remove any remaining paint. Repeat these steps until the brush is clean.

4. Can I reuse the methylated spirits for cleaning paint brushes?
Yes, you can reuse methylated spirits for cleaning paint brushes. Simply strain the liquid through a sieve to remove any paint particles, and then pour it into a clean container for reuse.

5. Is it safe to clean paint brushes with methylated spirits?
While methylated spirits are flammable and should be used with caution, they are safe to use for cleaning paint brushes as long as you follow proper safety precautions such as using in a well-ventilated area and keeping the liquid away from open flames.

6. What should I do if the paint on my brush is particularly stubborn?
If the paint on your brush is particularly stubborn, you can try using a brush cleaner or paint thinner in addition to the methylated spirits. Always follow the instructions on the label and use in a well-ventilated area.

7. How do I properly store my paint brushes after cleaning them with methylated spirits?
After cleaning your paint brush with methylated spirits, allow it to dry completely before storing it. Store it in a dry, cool place with the bristles facing up to prevent them from flattening or bending.

Closing Thoughts

Now that you know how to clean a paint brush with methylated spirits, you can ensure that your brushes remain in top condition and last for multiple uses. Always remember to follow proper safety precautions and store your brushes properly to maximize their lifespan. Thank you for reading and visit us again for more tips and tricks for a cleaner and happier home.