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Old 12-13-2018, 01:51 AM
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kluge kluge is offline
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Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

This may sound like a silly question but I am new to using oil paint.

Do you need to use turpentine to clean brushes as you paint or will soapy water do?
Particularly when you use the same brush with different colours. Is it sufficient to wipe the paint off the brush with a rag, dip it in soapy water, wipe it dry and pick up the new colour?
Many thanks
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Old 12-13-2018, 02:23 AM
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Ted Bunker Ted Bunker is offline
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

My technically naive answer; no ...not while you're painting. For that use an odorless mineral spirit (OMS) like Gamsol. Most artists today avoid turpentine during painting in favor of other mediums due to the smell and harsh longtime health affects. Some just wipe a brush clean during the session on a rag or disposable towei.

But once you are finished for that painting session then you can use soapy water, Artist's brush cleaner, OMS, or a solvent. Fresh oil paint is just that, oil ...really no different than the congealed grease in your frying pan. The tricky part is as it cures it starts to be insoluble, and that's when you need the solvents like Turps or Gamsol to breakup the partially-cured paint.

There are also "water-soluble oil paints" that use a modified Linseed oil were you can use water during painting, but for traditional oil paints don't use any water until it's time to clean the brush after painting. And don't use that brush again until it's totally-dry.
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Last edited by Ted Bunker : 12-13-2018 at 02:25 AM.
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Old 12-13-2018, 08:53 AM
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DickHutchings DickHutchings is offline
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

Just wipe the brush and go for the next color, I do it a lot. If I need super clean or very different color, I grab a different brush. So there's really no need to clean your brushes until your done with your painting session. At that point you could step outside and use the strongest solvents on the planet to remove most of the paint and finish up inside with dawn. I just dip my brushes in walnut oil after cleaning with OMS to keep them soft and ready to go. A none drying oil would be better for this last step but you must remember to clean it with OMS before you use it.
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Old 12-13-2018, 09:05 AM
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

You don't necessarily need to use turps or even OMS. I often use a silicoil jar with grocery store walnut oil to wash brushes while painting. You have to get a brand unadulterated by any food-related additions; I use Spectrum Brand walnut oil which is expeller-pressed and refined but has no additives.

There are various methods of cleaning brushes at the end of a painting session. Some just wash their brushes out with OMS and then leave them coated with oil to be ready for use the next day. I don't think this method can be used unless you plan to return to painting fairly soon, as the oil might start to oxidize and ruin the brush. Another method is to wash the brushes with bar soap or with Masterson's Brush Cleaner (which is an excellent product that removes pigment very effectively). There are other approaches as well.
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Old 12-13-2018, 09:20 AM
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

You should avoid water to clean brushes as you paint. OSM or turpentine are the safe option during a painting session. Once you finish, you can use Soapy water if you wish.

Notice: If you paint using medium containing resin, turpentine is recommended to clean your brushes, OSM cannot dissolve resins.
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Old 12-13-2018, 10:22 AM
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Humbaba
You should avoid water to clean brushes as you paint. OSM or turpentine are the safe option during a painting session. Once you finish, you can use Soapy water if you wish.

Notice: If you paint using medium containing resin, turpentine is recommended to clean your brushes, OSM cannot dissolve resins.

Good points and I should have noted that water always should be avoided during a session. Cleaning with oil during a session is also safe, but I neglected to mention that it generally requires the use of more brushes than usual, because although it's good for brushes (the oil keeps the bristles soft and flexible) it's not quite as effective as turps or OMS for cleaning. At least that's my take.
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Last edited by AnnieA : 12-13-2018 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 12-13-2018, 11:30 AM
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

Anyone counting? This may be the 30th time this topic has been raised.
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Old 12-13-2018, 12:15 PM
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

Thousand and thousand folks want to know how exactly the soapy water did the job to wash linseed oil! Oh way!
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Old 12-13-2018, 01:30 PM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinguino
Anyone counting? This may be the 30th time this topic has been raised.

About 482 times if you use the parameters of "brush cleaning", "soap" and "water" in quotes for all forums.

Google Site Search for Brush Cleaning / Soap / Water

The majority of art related questions have already been asked and answered many times on WC over the years, but searching the archives for an answer is not as fun for some folks as getting THEIR question answered. If all we ever did was defer people with a question to "Search WC" this would be a boring place in my view.
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Old 12-13-2018, 01:37 PM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Humbaba
You should avoid water to clean brushes as you paint. OSM or turpentine are the safe option during a painting session. Once you finish, you can use Soapy water if you wish.

Notice: If you paint using medium containing resin, turpentine is recommended to clean your brushes, OSM cannot dissolve resins.

It is true that OMS can't dissolve solid resins such as Damar like Turpentine and other solvents can, but OMS can and does do a good job removing paints and mediums with resins in them from your brushes when the resins are already dissolved in the medium - without the stronger fumes and higher toxicity of Turpentine. Gamsol for example does an excellent job cleaning my brushes regardless of what resin containing medium or paint is in them without giving me headaches and making me feel weird, which is not the case for Turpentine.
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:43 PM
Michael Lion Michael Lion is offline
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kluge
This may sound like a silly question but I am new to using oil paint.

Do you need to use turpentine to clean brushes as you paint or will soapy water do?
Particularly when you use the same brush with different colours. Is it sufficient to wipe the paint off the brush with a rag, dip it in soapy water, wipe it dry and pick up the new colour?
Many thanks

NO, you cannot use water (soapy or not) to clean brushes, unless you are using water-miscible oil paint.

You need a non-polar liquid, such as Turpenoid.
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Old 12-15-2018, 03:41 AM
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kluge kluge is offline
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

Thanks so much for all the advice regarding using OMS.
I might give water soluble oils a try since the clean up is far easier.
Can I use normal linseed oil as a medium with water soluble oils or do I need to get special linseed oil for these paints?
Many thanks
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Old 12-15-2018, 04:41 AM
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

You can use normal linseed oil for WMO paints, but that reduce water solubility of such paints. If you can't wash regular oil from brushes by using soap and water, then WMO is a way to clean brushes with just water and zero soap. If any, then soak brush into pure dish liquid and rinse into it.

Last edited by Gigalot : 12-15-2018 at 04:45 AM.
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Old 12-15-2018, 08:38 AM
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kluge kluge is offline
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigalot
You can use normal linseed oil for WMO paints, but that reduce water solubility of such paints. If you can't wash regular oil from brushes by using soap and water, then WMO is a way to clean brushes with just water and zero soap. If any, then soak brush into pure dish liquid and rinse into it.

Thanks Gigalot
so with WMO paints I can just use water as the sole medium?
When I painted with traditional oils I used Liquin medium.

Last edited by kluge : 12-15-2018 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 12-15-2018, 12:03 PM
Richard P Richard P is offline
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Re: Soapy water instead of turps to clean brushes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Lion
NO, you cannot use water (soapy or not) to clean brushes, unless you are using water-miscible oil paint.

You need a non-polar liquid, such as Turpenoid.

How strange, I do this all the time..
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