Acetone is one of the most common household chemicals. You can find it in your nail polish remover, paint thinner, and even in some glue. It’s also used for cleaning brushes and other tools that have been used with oil-based paints. But does acetone really work as a paint remover?
Does acetone clean paintbrushes?
Yes, acetone clean paint brushes. However, there are pros and cons. In this article, we’ll explore how to use acetone to clean paintbrushes along with everything else you need to know about this versatile chemical.
Can You Clean Paint Brushes With Acetone?
Yes, you can clean paint brushes with acetone. It is allowed. Acetone is a solvent. You can use it to dissolve other substances, such as paint, glue, or oil. It’s most commonly used in nail polish remover and some paints and varnishes.
As such a powerful solvent, acetone has the ability to break down oils and fats including those in paints. Because of this property, many people have wondered whether acetone can be used to clean paintbrushes. So far, as you use them properly, then you can.
How to Clean Paint Brushes with Acetone
Acetone is an effective way to clean paint brushes, but it shouldn’t be used directly on the bristles of your brush. Instead, use a small amount of acetone in an old container (that you don’t care about) and soak your paintbrush for a few minutes.
After you’ve soaked the brush in acetone, rinse it out thoroughly with water and continue cleaning until no more color comes off on the paper towel or rag that you’re using. Once all of the colors have been removed from your brush, let it dry overnight before using it again so that it doesn’t leave any residue behind on surfaces or workpieces.
Things to Keep in Mind When Cleaning a Paint Brush
1. Do not use acetone on natural hair brushes
First, it’s important to know that you shouldn’t use acetone to clean your brushes if they’re made of natural hair or bristle. Acetone can damage these materials and make them weak, dull, and brittle over time. If you have a brush like this, consider using mild dishwashing soap and water instead of acetone. Remember: Always check the label on your paintbrush before cleaning it.
Also keep in mind that once you’ve used the acetone on your brush, it should be washed thoroughly with water before being stored away for future use.
2. Acetone is flammable, so be careful when using it
Acetone is flammable. It is not safe to use near open flames, such as those produced by stoves or lit candles. If you are using acetone in an enclosed space such as a bathroom, be sure that the room has plenty of ventilation and that there is no chance of anyone accidentally setting anything on fire.
3. Don’t soak your brush in acetone for too long
It’s generally not a good idea to leave your brush in acetone for too long. Acetone is a volatile solvent, which means that its molecules evaporate quickly and easily.
As you might imagine, this can lead to a lot of evaporation from your jar or bottle of paint thinner. If you leave your brush in the jar too long and let all the acetone evaporate out, then you may end up with a dry brush by the time you’re ready to use it again.
4. Don’t leave your brush in acetone overnight
Don’t leave your brush in acetone overnight. Acetone can dissolve the glue holding the bristles together, which causes them to fall out of your brush. This is particularly true if you’re using a natural bristle brush. Natural hair brushes are more likely to have glue applied to their bristles than synthetic ones, and they’re also more likely to be damaged by the chemicals in acetone than synthetic bristles.
Pros of Cleaning Paint Brushes With Acetone
Acetone is a fast-acting solvent that’s cheap, widely available, and easy to use. It can also be non-toxic as long as you take precautions.
Acetone is a cheap solvent that works quickly to dissolve paint from brushes. If you just need a quick brush cleaning, acetone will do the trick without breaking your budget.
The liquid form of acetone can easily be transported and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. You don’t have to worry about buying large quantities of hazardous materials or storing them properly; just keep them on hand in your workshop or garage area and use them when needed.
Cons of Cleaning Paint Brushes With Acetone
While acetone can be an effective way to clean your paintbrushes, it has some drawbacks. If you’re cleaning a brush with very fine bristles (like a detail brush), the solvent may dry out or even dissolve the glue that holds those bristles in place. This will cause them to fall out and render the brush unusable.
Acetone also does not clean well in cold temperatures because it evaporates more slowly than water does in colder weather conditions. Acetone is also highly flammable, so if you spill any on your clothes or skin, you’ll want to keep away from open flames until they’ve been completely soaked up by something like cloths or paper towels.
Can I Use Acetone to Clean Oil Paintbrushes?
Yes, you can use acetone to clean oil paintbrushes. It can also be used to dissolve oil paint. However, oil paint is harder than acetone and will not dissolve completely in a short amount of time.
This means that your acetone-soaked brushes will not be cleaned very well and may leave some oil behind on your canvas or paper.
Alternatives for Cleaning Paint Brushes
1. Use warm water and dish soap
If you’re trying to clean paint brushes with acetone, but don’t have any and are tired of going to the store, or if you just want something more natural than a chemical like acetone, there are some alternatives. One option is warm water and dish soap. The soap will help remove any oils on the brush while allowing gravity to do most of the work.
2. Mineral oil with warm water
Another option is olive oil or mineral oil mixed with warm water, this is one of those super simple hacks that seem too easy to actually work. These two oils have similar properties and will not damage paint brushes like acetone would.
Just dip your brush into a mixture of equal parts oil and water, give it a few shakes to rinse off any excess material from your brush head, then place it on paper towels upside down so all excess moisture drains out before hanging up again.
3. Use a brush cleaner and conditioner
If you’re not interested in acetone, your next best option is to use paintbrush cleaner and conditioner. These products are made specifically for cleaning paintbrushes.
Paintbrush cleaners and conditioners are usually made with soap, water, and alcohol. They should be available at any art store that sells paints or supplies for artists. If you don’t have an art store nearby, there’s a good chance you can find one online as well.
4. Use a wet rag to clean paintbrushes
When you’re done painting and ready for cleanup, grab a piece of cloth or paper towel and dip it into your water container. Wring out the excess liquid so you’re left with just enough water to dampen the brush without making it too wet. Then wipe the bristles gently against the rag until they are clean.
If there are any stubborn clumps or dried paint on your brush, try using an old toothbrush as well.
5. Use an oil painting solvent
For those of you who don’t have access to an acetone-based paint thinner or just prefer something a bit more natural, you can always use an oil painting solvent. These solvents have a long history in traditional art and are especially popular among professional artists who work with acrylics and watercolors.
If you’re using an oil-based paint, it’s best to first clean your brush with mineral spirits or turpentine before cleaning it out with the solvent. Otherwise, the oil may be too thick for the solvent to dissolve and could end up leaving a sticky residue on your brush.
To use this method, dip your wet brush into the solvent until all of the paint is gone from it (you can also use this method on dry brushes). Now wipe off any excess liquid from your brush by dragging it across a rag: don’t rinse away any remaining particles. Then dry off with another soft cloth before giving it some time in fresh air so that no lingering odors remain on our precious bristles.
Can you soak a brush in acetone?
No, not for long. Acetone will loosen the paint from your brush, but it won't dissolve the paint enough to get rid of it completely. Instead, you'll be left with an unusable brush, crusty and stiff when dry, or sticky when wet. For best results (and to avoid damaging your brushes), use a brush cleaner designed specifically for this task before tossing them into the acetone-filled bucket. You can find these at any art supply store or online retailer.
Will acetone ruin paint brushes?
Yes, acetone will ruin paint brushes. Acetone is a solvent, which means it’s a chemical that dissolves other substances. When you apply acetone to your paint brushes, it will dissolve the paint from the bristles and loosen up any dried glue or adhesive that may be holding them together. Acetone can also strip away the natural moisture of your brush hairs and make their tips brittle.
Is acetone a good paint remover?
Yes, acetone is a good paint remover. Acetone is a solvent used to remove paint from brushes, so if your painting project has gone awry and you need to clean your brushes quickly, it's an option.
Acetone may not be the best solvent for cleaning paint brushes, but it is effective. If you need to clean a brush quickly, acetone will do the job. Just remember that acetone can dry out your skin and cause some serious damage if you’re not careful when using it.