A decent paintbrush can cost a lot of money and is well worthwhile looking after. Buying cheap ones on a throwaway basis is false economy, and your work will show this too. I learned these things from painters in London where I had my decorating business.
HANDYMAN’S TIPS: Begin by working smart. When you dip a dry paintbrush into paint, capillary action draws the liquid all the way up to the handle where it congeals and ruins the brush. Soak if first in water, turpentine or oil, then shake it dry before you start. Use different brushes for oil and water-based paints because these media repel each other. Wear disposable gloves so you do not have to clean yourself as well.
o First, wipe away any excess paint from the brush with paper towel or a lint free cloth (if there is a lot of it and it has not yet begun to dry, scrape this back into the paint tin first). Squeeze the bristles gently as you work the paint towards the tip where you can remove it. Be careful not to damage or distort the bristles – you want your expensive paintbrush to wear in nicely, and last for years. Wipe the surface of the paintbrush again.
o Rinse the paintbrush in turpentine or oil, or lukewarm fresh water, depending on the type of paint you have been using – the instructions on the paint tin will tell you which is right. When done, gently squeeze the brush dry inside several sheets of newspaper. Never shake a paintbrush dry, unless you want your house or garden to change colour.
o After wiping the paintbrush again with paper towel or your lint free cloth, dab the bristles gently against a piece of mild, soft bath soap (not dish-washing liquid, which is harsh). Work up a nice lather in a small clean container. Rinse and repeat until your brush is completely clean, and free of any remaining soap.
o Re-shape the brush with your fingers, and leave it to dry at room temperature. Never rest a wet paintbrush on its head. If you do, it will dry misshapen, and you could ruin it.