How can I reuse or recycle paintbrushes?

paintbrushesWe’ve had an email from Sharon:

We’ve got a ton of old paintbrushes. They’ve gone stiff and hard. Any suggestions?

If the brushes have gone hard because they weren’t cleaned properly, you might still be able to revive them by giving them a good clean with turps or the like. Failing that, or if they were clean to start with, apparently a ten minute soak in some hot white vinegar can revive ones used for water-based paints (soak it then wash it out with soap and warm water and leave to air dry).

Even if you don’t get them back to perfect softness needed for a nice, smooth paint job, once clean, they can be used for cleaning hard-to-reach areas around the house or on a car’s dashboard – in fact a little stiffness might help them getting into tiny nooks and crannies easier.

Charities that collect leftover paint for redistribution in the community also might be interested in them.

Any other suggestions?

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8 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle paintbrushes?”

  1. Bobbie says:

    I keep a 1″ paintbrush at my comptuer to clean keyboards etc. Works great and not so expensive as canned air.

  2. Alice says:

    Too late now perhaps, but it’s a really good idea to clean off brushes properly because new brushes shed so many bristles. They only stop shedding bristles after a couple of good uses and cleans, so old paint brushes are much better than new ones and well worth re-using.

  3. Gene says:

    Soak oil brushes in pine sol, really stiff ones may take a day or more, then soak in hair conditioner.

  4. Karen says:

    Send them to my grandfather – we tried to help him paint his house – he wanted us to use the stiffest old things – at least we got a good laugh out of it – had to sneak off to the hardware store to buy some rollers…

  5. Amberjet says:

    Turn them upside down and carve them into crochet hooks.

    Found the idea here:

  6. I would use them for cleaning items like wicker/rattan furniture with. Paintbrush bristles would be able to get dust out of those hard-to-reach corners and crevices.

  7. ELENA MITOVA says:

    I am working together with artist Xenia Ghazi, looking for old paint brushes to use for an art installation. Please contact me if you want to donate your old brushes to our project! + you will be invited to participate in our short documentary film on the process of making the installation. (if you wish to, of course)


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