Cleaning and Caring for your Watercolour Brushes

It is absolutely paramount that artists take care of their tools. It is particularly important with regards to brushes, as a properly cared for brush can last a lifetime, providing it is of good quality. There are some general brush-care tips that you should follow:

  1. Always clean your brush at the end of a painting session.
  2. Do not leave brushes soaking in water.
  3. Never leave them resting on their heads or tufts.
  4. Shape the head after cleaning and do not point them in your mouth!

For a more thorough description of the brush cleaning and caring process, see our handy instructions below!

Caring for your Watercolour Brushes

  1. Make sure that your brushes are kept out of direct sunlight.
  2. If your brushes are going to be in storage for any length of time make sure that they are clean and perfectly dry before putting them away in an airtight box.
  3. Moth repellents are recommended when storing brushes, but can not be relied upon as a sure preventative measure against moth damage.
  4. Be sure to follow the instructions below when you clean your brush! The most common cause of a poorly-pointing brush is the build up of pigment particles in the base of the brush. If these particles are allowed to build up they simply push the hairs apart from one another and prevent a point from forming.

Cleaning your Watercolour Brushes

  1. Brushes should be wiped clean on a lint-free rag and then rinsed under running water.
  2. Gently clean the brushes with cool water and mild soap and carefully swirl the soapy brush in the palm of your hand.
  3. Repeat steps one and two until the soap and the water run clear. It's amazing how much colour can be trapped in the brush tip, so take time to make sure that all of it is clean.
  4. Some watercolour pigments may cause the brush to stain, but this will not effect the performance or the life of the hair.
  5. Gently reshape the brush head and remove any excess water.
  6. Dry the handle and ferrule and lie on a flat surface until the hair is dry. Once the brush is completely dry you can stand the brush up in a jar or brush holder. It is imporant that the brush is not left vertically until it is fully dry. Any water present in the tip when stored vertically can cause the adhesive in the ferrule to rot and consequently lessen the life of your brush.

Restoring a 'hooked' Synthetic Brush

Synthetic filaments sometimes have a tendency to become bent or 'hooked'. This obviously creates problems for artists as it prevents a perfect point from forming, which can make it difficult to create fine lines and details. Should this 'hooking' occur, the synthetic filament can sometimes be straightened by holding the brush head for one or two minutes in water which has boiled and cooled slightly. Once dipped, remove any excess water, shape the brush and apply a Gum Arabic solution. Leave the brush to dry and wash before ue.