How to Clean Hardened Paintbrushes Naturally

Hardened paint can often be remove from a paintbrush naturally using household vinegar. Here’s how.

Cleaning Hardened Paintbrush with Vinegar

  1. Place the paintbrush in a disposable aluminum baking pan.
  2. Heat vinegar up in a pot on the stove to almost boiling.
  3. Pour the hot vinegar over the paintbrush in the pan.
  4. Allow the brush to soak for 10 minutes or longer.
  5. Use a brush comb or wire brush to remove the softened paint.
  6. Wash the brush with warm water and soap.
  7. Rinse the paintbrush with clean water.
  8. Allow the brush to dry on a flat surface or hanging up.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Joe Truini: After painting you should always clean your brushes thoroughly so they look almost brand new, as this one did. But no matter how careful you are, sooner or later, you may end up with a brush that looks like this.

Here’s one that, unfortunately, I didn’t get to in time, and it has some paint caked on it. I tried soaking it in hot water, been scrubbing it, and I just can’t get it out, so I’m going to try this trick that I’ve used once before, and it worked really well.

Get a foil baking sheet—this is one of those dishes that has disposable foil. And I heated up some vinegar on the stove. This is warm vinegar just to the point of boiling, and I’m going to soak the bristles.

And vinegar is a pretty powerful acid. You’d be surprised, it can eat through a lot of material. We’re hoping here that it softens that paint. So we’re going to let that set for about 10 minutes. We’re going to come back and clean it.

Well now that the vinegar has softened the paint, we’re just going to rake through the bristles with a brush comb. Now, depending on the condition of your brush, you may need to do this two or three times. But you can see after just 10 minutes, this brush is nearly as good as new.


  1. I just saw your video on how to clean hardened paint brush. The brush in your video was not hardened at all but soft bristles with dried paint, which can easily come off with vinegar. Please show how to clean a solid hardened like a rock dried paint brush.

    • Fingers crossed. I LOVE to paint! But I’m a mom of two small children and one giant man sized one.. oh that one’s my bf NVM.. anyways.. I end up with lots of hardened brushes and I hate wasting them. Here goes nothing! 🙂

  2. I missed part of your recomendation about using vingear to the out side of your house on your radio show.i dont get a chance to listen much because i take care of my 94yo mother with dementia. Thank you for all of your tips!

  3. Challenge accepted.
    I just so happened to have a paint brush in question that could be used as a support truss for a bridge.

  4. Just pour paint thinners over your brush and allow to stand for a few mins ,now press the bristle end of the brush on to a hard surface (pressure required)then you will find that the hard bristles will start to bend and soften with the pressure your putting , keep that pressure on but with a dabbing motion and you will soon have a brush as good as when you have softened the brush its then a good idea to leave in a jar of spirits

  5. This video is how to remove hardened paint from a paint brush. Which is exactly what he does!
    The video did not claim to show how to clean hardened bristles from paint.
    Thank you so much for the video tutorial. I’ve thrown away a couple of brushes, that I could have saved by following this tutorial.
    I actually found one brush with hardened paint on it that had not been thrown away. I follow your instructions and my brush is almost like new. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Thanks for your tip to clean hard paint brushers. As I am a home owner
    I am always looking for handy tips to save time and most important money. Thanks

  7. Just found your site. Had a brush so o hard it was like rock..did the vinegar 3 times and its now soft. Wow

    • Hi, D.,
      Aluminum containers are sturdy but disposable — perfect for this job since you wouldn’t want to put used paintbrushes in a container intended for food.
      Also, aluminum can stand up to the boiling hot vinegar you’re pouring into the pan. It would be more durable than anything else.
      Thanks for your question!

  8. okay so i need help!! I was painting my room yesterday & forgot to wash my roller and i need to use it but the paint is not coming off. How do i go along with that ?

  9. Have you got any ideas on how to remove Lichen on an older iron roof, was thinking of trying the White Vinegar as with the paint brushes but can you say yay or nay ? Many thanks . . . . ..

  10. Hi everyone. I googled up “how to make your paintbrushes soft again” and saw this link so I clicked on it.
    When I tried it, I maybe had over 20 different paintbrushes. I boiled the vinegar and let it begin the process.
    WARNING!: Strong fumes!
    Anyways one of my paintbrushes was rock solid so I was wanting to know if it helped that too.
    By the way, all paintbrushes had some acrylic paint on them.
    When I was done, most of the paintbrushes were softer than before, so I was satisfied. Even the rock-solid one was way better!
    Thank You!

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed this content! Please share it with friends — that’s how we’re able to create similar content.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here