How to Clean Up After Painting

This article gives you tips on how to clean up the mess after you have painted.

  1. On layers of newspaper, “paint” as much of the paint out of whatever applicator you’ve used. With water-soluble paint, after you’ve painted it out, simply wash with warm water and soap. With a brush, be sure you get into the middle of the bristles and near the handle. The water should be clear when you squeeze the brush. Wash until it is dry. Wrap in foil and store. And thereafter clean your Painting Kits as well. 

  1. With a roller, lean it under the faucet and let the water run down over it for a while. This washes a good deal of the paint away. Then take the roller off the holder and finish up with soap and warm water. Stand on end to dry so you don’t flatten the nap. It’s best to set the roller on a paper towel for draining. Cleaning a paint pad is the same as a roller. Here you rest it on its back for drying. Once either of these is thoroughly dry, it doesn’t matter whether it sat on its nap or not.
  1. For oil or alkyd paint, use turpentine, the recommended solvent on the paint can, or one like benzene. If you’ve used a roller or pad, toss it out. It takes forever to clean it.
  1. If you’ve used a brush, paint most of the paint out of it in a newspaper. Pour a small amount of solvent in a juice or coffee can. Work the brush back and forth in the solution to make sure it gets between the bristles. Paint the newspaper until the brush is dry. Pour clean solvent in another can and repeat. By now the brush should be clean enough to wash with soap and warm water. It will take a while before the soap will suds, but it will so keep washing until it does. When all traces of the paint are gone, shake the brush and shape the bristles together and either hang or lay the brush down to dry. Once dry, it’s better to wrap the brush in foil to hold its shape.
  1. Use some care disposing of this highly flammable solvent. Label it “flammable” and set the can where the trash is collected or personally give it to the person collecting the trash. Never throw the can down the incinerator. You can also set the can outside in some safe place. The solvent will evaporate rapidly, leaving only the dried sediment, which you can put in with the trash.

  1. If you’re stopped in the middle of a painting job, rather than go through the cleanup, wrap the roller or brush in foil or a plastic bag. For a couple of hours, this will keep the paint from drying. Some of the paints dry so fast that you’d better wrap them even for a coffee break.
  1. To get yourself cleaned up, either wash with soap and water or use the same solvent you’ve used with the paint, then wash.