How to Store Art Brushes So That They Last For Years

Art brushes can be expensive, and you should know how to take care of them so that they can last for years. 

Storing your art brushes

Store your paintbrushes by either standing them on the handle (bristle end up) or laying them on a flat surface in a clean storage container. Before putting your brushes this way, make sure they are as dry and as clean as possible.

Remember never to store your brushes with bristle down in a brush holder. Don’t leave your new brushes sitting bristle down in your cleaning fluids or water, even while painting your art! This is one of the fastest ways to ruin your brushes completely.

Different Kinds of Storage

My preferred method for keeping your brushes in excellent condition is a canvas brush holder that lets you place each brush into its own pocket. The best ones enable you to carefully stand your brushes up while using them and then let you fold, create a protective case, roll the canvas, and tie it into a neat bundle. These are excellent for transporting your brushes to workshops, Plein air painting, and traveling with your supplies.

If you prefer something more long-lasting, many kinds of canisters and boxes will keep your investment safe. Some even double as solvent containers. Be sure that you buy something that will keep your brushes secure and suspended to avoid damage. Be extra careful of canvas brush holders that do not have different pockets.

I also caution other painters about rolling brushes in bamboo mats. These can be uneven on the hairs of fine brushes and make them to break off.

A new type of brush holder allows you to hang your cleaned brushes with the bristle end pointing downward (this is important) while keeping the hair or bristle ending free-hanging. These are the best for storing your brushes while still wet and allowing the moisture to drain away.

Water Basin

For keeping your brushes wet during the painting process (mainly if you are using acrylics), you can utilize a brush basin that allows your brushes to lay suspended in the solvent or water. I don’t suggest leaving your brushes in the water or solvent for extended periods (for days or overnight) unless you are trying to push the dried medium from them. Clean your brushes completely, and then stock them properly at the end of each painting session.

The least expensive and also the easiest method is to use a coffee can, nice jar, potato chip can, bottle, or whatever strikes your fancy. Just be SURE to stand your dry and clean brushes with the bristles up and handle down.

Don’t ever tote your brushes loose in a box, cage, or bag. This will ruin your brushes just as fast as not thoroughly cleaning your brushes!

Here is how you store brushes: 

  1. In the midst of a painting project and want to ensure your brushes are fresh until you resume? In this case, there’s no urgency to give them a complete clean. Wrap the head of your paintbrushes and secure in an airtight plastic bag or carefully roller in cling film. Seal around the handle with a neat masking tape and store it in a dry place for up to around 48 hours maximum.
  2. Once you’ve completed your painting project, it’s now time to give your rollers and brushes a decent clean. 
  3. If you’ve been utilizing water-based paint, simply soak your roller or paint in warm water for about 2 hours. Dry with a fresh cloth and store in a dry lukewarm for later use.
  4. Are you using solvent-based paints? Put a small amount of solvent-based cleaner into a container or a small jar and carefully work the brush against the sides to get the cleaner into the center of the bristles. Soak for about a couple of hours, dry with a dust-free cloth, and store in a dry place for later use.

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