cleaning chalk paint from a brush under running water

How to Clean Chalk Paint from Paint Brushes

In Tips by Jamie P.

In 1990, Annie Sloan developed chalk paint which has become extremely popular within the last 30 years. Chalk paint is known to have a more matte finish, its name explains it pretty well, the surface almost feels as if it was chalked. It has been a recommended product to apply over old furniture to create a rustic and distressed look. Many furniture painters have become extremely creative with chalk paints over the years. The most common way to apply chalk paint is by brush, but how do you clean chalk paint off brushes?

Chalk paint is water-based, to remove chalk paint from your paintbrush, gently rinse your brush under warm water and slowly rub soap suds into the brush with your hands. Before finishing up, assure all soap suds have been rinsed from the brush. 

It’s important to know that products such as mineral spirits and denatured alcohol are not required for chalk paint cleaning. Water-based paints can be completely cleaned with water, which is why I like to use them. When I clean my paintbrushes from chalk paint I will squeeze the brush while rinsing it under the tap, I don’t always grab soap suds unless I can’t remove all the paint easily.

How to Clean Dried Chalk Paint From Brush?

When Cleaning dried up chalk paint off your paintbrush you can initially try warm water and soap suds, but this won’t always work. A great way to remove the crusty chalk paint is to soak your brushes in a fabric softener mixed with water overnight, mix 3 of cups of water and 1/2 cup of softener.

This formula will soften the bristles making it easy to clean the next day. After waiting overnight, using your hands or even a steel spoon, begin peeling off the paint that has dried on the brush while running it under warm water. It should come off relatively easy, but it can take some time to work the old paint out of the bristles. Grab some soap suds to help with the process.

The fabric softener will work most effectively on natural bristle brushes when compared to synthetic brushes. It will still work, but the synthetic paintbrushes will require more time to remove the old paint.

If you are wondering how to get chalk paint off furniture read our guide by clicking here!

How to Prevent Paint Brush From Drying Out?

If you are not cleaning your brushes completely clean after use and you want to keep them from fresh from drying, they must be stored in an airtight sealed bag. A Ziploc bag is perfect for this, they will keep your paintbrush moist and ready for painting. To make this painting hack work even better, you can wrap your Ziploc bag around the brush and add a strip of tape to keep it tight. The smaller and less air inside the bag will help keep it fresh when needed for use again.

How to Prevent Paintbrushes From Smelling?

If you are placing your paintbrushes in a Ziploc bag, be aware that over a long period of time they can begin to smell funny. Especially organic paints, if you are planning to leave them in a bag for a couple of weeks you can expect an unpleasant odor. The best way to prevent a smelling paintbrush is to keep it airtight wrapped in a bag and place it in the fridge or freezer. This prevents the brushes from smelling and keeps them super fresh for re-use. It makes things simple. just grab your paintbrush from the fridge and you can start painting with that same color right away!

How to Clean Wax Off Your Chalk Paint Brush?

Chalk paint is typically coated with wax using a wax brush or chalk paintbrush. The easiest way to clean wax off a brush is to run it under warm water, the water will help melt the wax off slowly cleaning it. Cleaning wax off a brush is that simple!

I like to have a designated wax brush for each wax color. This way you don’t have to completely clean off the wax after use, you can just wipe any excess wax on the brush and store it in a Ziploc baggy. Then it is ready for use on your next project!

Other Ways to Clean a Chalk Paint Brush?

Vinegar and water is another popular way to remove chalk paint from a paintbrush. Let the paintbrush sit in white vinegar for 20-30 minutes and then rinse under warm water rubbing out the paint from the brush. Try using a painters comb to brush through the bristles to remove the paint stuck inside the brush.

How to Condition Chalk Paint Brushes?

Conditioning a chalk paintbrush is done using a fabric softener. Similar to cleaning a dry paint-crusted chalk paintbrush, let the brush soak in a water and softener solution for a few hours or leave it overnight. After soaking in the softener, rinse the brush in warm water to remove all the softener. Now your paintbrush is ready for use and it’s conditioned for a better painting experience.

Check out this video if you want to see how cleaning and caring for your chalk paintbrush is done! (this is not my video)