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Old 10-07-2018, 10:29 AM
budigart budigart is online now
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

I have read from several OLDER sources (artist's writing books) that chloroform will remove paint . . . soften it to the point where it can be washed away. However, I've never tried this. Actually, I tried to try it but I was unable to find chloroform. When I was a child (back in the 40's) you could buy chloroform in local drug stores, but apparently it is no longer possible. I'd like to know if it really works. If you stumble onto some chloroform, let us know if it works.
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Old 10-07-2018, 02:20 PM
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sidbledsoe sidbledsoe is offline
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

Chloroform is banned because of carcinogenity, it is also not used as an anesthetic anymore due to the possible severe hepatic issues, oxygen can convert it to phosgene gas, it is just a very nasty chemical that has no place in an artist's studio.
Any of these very strong, harsh agents like paint stripper, acetone, chloroform, benzene, etc. are way overkill for restoring brushes. They even can dissolve glue and loosen the hairs.
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Old 10-07-2018, 03:32 PM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dcam
Many here on WC have had success with an overnight soak in Murphy's Oil Soap....always works for me.

After trying many different things, Murphy's Oil Soap is now the only product I use to soften dried oils in brushes. Don't bend the bristles until they are softened up or you may damage them. Once soft enough to bend easily, I follow up with warm soapy water to clean out the residue, then another soak in Murphy's. Repeat as needed, then I do a final cleaning with Master's Brush Cleaner, leaving some in it to shape and condition the bristles.

If the paint is jammed up in the ferrule, it may not work, but that should never happen to begin with if you used the brush correctly or you knowingly chose to allow it for some type of technique. To prevent distortion of the bristles, it is best to have the brush tips suspended in the Murphy's rather than resting on the bottom of the jar. A simple way to do this if you don't have a brush suspending system is to use a stick of some kind that acts as a stilt keeping the brushes off the bottom. A regular pencil or the body from a Bic pen works fine. Wrap a rubber band around the brush or brushes and the stick so the stick projects a bit past the bristles, making sure that the brush tips are floating in the liquid. Put some plastic wrap or aluminum foil over the mouth of the jar to keep it from drying out. You can add water back in as needed if it gets too thick. Don't throw it out when done, save it for future uses. It will continue to work for a LONG time even if very dirty looking.

It sounds like you left a bit too much oil residue in the bristles after solvent cleaning which caused the hardening, rather than leaving it saturated with paint. Because of the chance of this happening in the past I either leave them in my OMS soaking station or I will follow up a solvent cleaning with Master's before putting them away for an extended period.

Last edited by contumacious : 10-07-2018 at 03:47 PM.
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Old 10-07-2018, 05:49 PM
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Humbaba Humbaba is offline
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

Paint stripper contains several toxic ingredients, so be careful to use in a ventilated area, it can also damage brushes.
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Old 10-08-2018, 12:02 PM
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

Quote:
Originally Posted by budigart
When I was a child (back in the 40's) you could buy chloroform in local drug stores, but apparently it is no longer possible.


Judging from British murder mysteries written in the early 20th Century, things such as arsenic, cyanide, and chloroform were routinely available at the "chemist" shops (drugstores).

Currently (at least in the USA), commercial hardware-store paint remover is based on methylene chloride, usually mixed with other ingredients to make a light gel. Will soften and remove well-hardened oil and/or acrylic paints and many adhesives, as well as remove oil from your skin, irritate your eyes and lungs, etc.

Probably better to just buy new brushes. But before you discard the old ones... I intentionally splayed a couple of old bristle brushes. I can use them for applying scattered lines and stippling.
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Old 10-08-2018, 01:34 PM
jnicholes jnicholes is offline
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

Hello,

Thanks everyone for the advice. I failed to post this earlier, but I was able to fix all my brushes except for three. I let them soak in thinner for a little bit, then I gently pulled the bristles apart. It worked, and I am back to painting.

I am cleaning my brushes better from now on.

Jared
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Old 10-08-2018, 01:46 PM
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AnnieA AnnieA is offline
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

I've had some success with W&N Brush Cleaner and Restorer. I sometimes use a pet slicker brush - the kind with the tiny wires - running it repeatedly through the bristles.

Be forewarned that when using any method that uses a very strong chemical (eg acetone...even Murphy's Oil Soap) because although these often can get the paint out, the bristles are often left very splayed. One solution if that happens is to clean with Master's brush cleaner, leaving a goodly amount of suds in the bristles. Then, take a small strip of heavy weight paper, such as a piece of a business card (the size will depend on the size of the brush - a small one for small brushes/large one for large brushes) and wrap it tightly around the ferrule, just above the actual bristles. Then slide it down so it covers the bristles and hold the wrapping in place with a binder clip until the brush has dried completely. This has saved many a brush for me.

Also, although it's a last resort sort of thing, lava soap can help a lot because the pumice in it can remove paint that other methods don't. I place the wet brush at the short edge of the bar and press down hard, until the bristles are at about a 90 degree angle to the ferrule, and then wiggle the brush, ferrule first, down the bar of Lava soap and repeat this several times. My sense is this can help get some of the paint out of the ferrule edge, which is what can make the brush splay. In fact, I've sometimes spread the bristles apart to see what's happening in the part of the brush that's unseen, and if I see paint buildup in the middle, I squish the wetted brush down on the Lava bar so the bristles are all splayed out around the middle, and rub it back and forth to try to get the deeply lodged paint out. The brush will splay badly as you do this, but most can be brought back by the Master's wrapping method above (sometimes it takes several iterations of the method before the brush begins to behave). I want to stress though, that this is a last resort sort of solution, b/c it also can cause damage, such as bristles breaking off around the ferrule. Still, if all else fails, it's worth a try - you may loose a few bristles, but you'll end up with a brush that's still quite useable.

Whatever method you use, try to dry your brushes with the ferrules facing down. This is so that water doesn't migrate up into them which can cause swelling and damage.

Heh...after all I wrote above, it looks like we cross-posted and the problem was already solved!
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Last edited by AnnieA : 10-08-2018 at 01:53 PM.
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Old 10-08-2018, 08:25 PM
Boogiechile Boogiechile is online now
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

I seldom wash my natural hog bristle brushes. I dip them in Food grade cold pressed safflower oil, squeeze / wipe out the paint by holding a cotton rag between my fingers and pulling the paint out pulling away from the ferrell. Repeat until the rag shows little color. Then when session is over I hang them in this brush suspender I made. There’s about 1/8” of safflower oil in the bottom, just enough for the tips, don’t want to submerge the Ferrell. The oil has been there for over six months and no skin or curdling. I find the brushes keep their shape better and don’t lose spring, and last longer.



However, I find This oil clean does not work well for most man made bristles as they seem to lose spring if left oily.
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Old 10-08-2018, 08:44 PM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogiechile
I seldom wash my natural hog bristle brushes. I dip them in Food grade cold pressed safflower oil, squeeze / wipe out the paint by holding a cotton rag between my fingers and pulling the paint out pulling away from the ferrell. Repeat until the rag shows little color. Then when session is over I hang them in this brush suspender I made. There’s about 1/8” of safflower oil in the bottom, just enough for the tips, don’t want to submerge the Ferrell. The oil has been there for over six months and no skin or curdling. I find the brushes keep their shape better and don’t lose spring, and last longer.

However, I find This oil clean does not work well for most man made bristles as they seem to lose spring if left oily.

That is a nifty setup. Have you tried soaking Dakota 6300 series brushes in the oil? Those are what I use the most. Soaking for days at a time in OMS doesn't seem to bother them.
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Old 10-13-2018, 03:29 PM
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

my method for cleaning dried or even recently used paint brushes is not orthodox but it works, for oil and acrylic paints.

i use one bar of ivory soap (sorry for brand naming but no other brand will do the job) and i let it soak in water (in a medium yogurt container) until it gets all mushy. usually, a few days at most.

when ready, i place the brushes that need cleaning into that mixture and let them soak for a day or two, then clean in palm of hand as usual and they are like new, and soft.

i, personally, did not believe it when i read it but surprisingly, it works! i've never used anything else since and i don't have to worry about dried brushes anymore.

edit: this mixture will last for months, no need to cover. only to add water when needed again et voilà!
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Old 10-13-2018, 03:35 PM
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

diane: well, the old commercials used to say that Ivory was 99 44/100 %
Pure. It is worth a try and thanks.
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Old 10-13-2018, 05:36 PM
budigart budigart is online now
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

I'm so old I remember local woman who used to do that very thing -- dissolve an Ivory soap bar to use as laundry soap. Mothers used to bathe babies with it because of its purity and because it floated.
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Old 10-13-2018, 10:07 PM
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sidbledsoe sidbledsoe is offline
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

Any kind of soap will work, nothing special about Ivory. I use brands like Tone and Lever and when they get really small I stick them in an empty salsa jar and add some hot water.
I just restored several brushes with this leftover soap.
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Old 10-14-2018, 04:39 PM
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

oh, that's weird 'cause i tried other brands and they did not work as well. it's good to know, tho, tks
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Old 10-17-2018, 09:52 PM
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Pthalo White Pthalo White is offline
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Re: Cleaning dried oil brushes

Quote:
Originally Posted by jnicholes
Hello,

So, I made a mistake, (or "happy accident" as Bob Ross puts it,) I failed to clean my brushes properly last time I painted. I pulled them out today, and they have dried oil paint on them. I guess I didn't clean them good enough. Oh well! I guess this is a learning experience for me.

Is there a way to get the dried paint off these brushes? I can't paint until I get it off.

Any help will be appreciated,

Jared

"master;s brush cleaner and preserver" Daniel Smith has it. I had dried oil on brushes from 1971....not kidding... and used the soap on it. It came back clean and ready to use.


It comes in a beige plastic container with a screwtop lid on it. There's an illustration of a painter/easel on the lid. Comes in a small size, and a huge barrel size.

It's great stuff. I guarantee it. NEVER THROW BRUSHES AWAY>
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