Paintbrush soaking in coffee can.
Using a wire hanger to suspend a paintbrush in a coffee can while soaking.

Coffee cans are just the right size for soaking a paintbrush in solvent before cleaning, but it’s important to suspend the brush off the bottom in the can to keep from bending and warping the bristles. Here’s how.

How to suspend a paintbrush in a coffee can:

  1. Cut a piece of straight wire from a coat hanger an inch longer than the diameter of the coffee can.
  2. Measure the inside depth of the coffee can.
  3. Measure the paintbrush from the tip of the bristles, and mark the paintbrush handle 1” less than the depth of the coffee can.
  4. Drill a small hole (1/8” diameter or so) in the paintbrush handle at the mark.
  5. Insert the coat hanger wire through the paintbrush handle.
  6. Suspend the paintbrush in the coffee can so the ends of the wire rest on the top edge.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Joe Truini: Most people use an empty coffee can to soak their paintbrushes before cleaning. And that’s a great idea unless you just drop the brushes in the can. Because if you do that, the weight of the brush will bend the bristles. And once they dry like that, the brush is no good, you might as well toss it out.

So here’s what I did. I took a wire coat hanger, and I cut it slightly longer than the diameter of the can. And then I set the brush in the can and raised it about an inch off the bottom of the can and made a mark where it crossed the wire.

Then I drilled a hole through the handle, slightly larger than the diameter of the wire. Now all you need to do is push the wire through the hole, thread it through the hole, and drop it into the can.

As you can see, the bristles are up off the bottom of the can, and then you can pour in your solvent. In this case that’s latex paint, so we’re going to use some warm water. Pour it right in there. Now, you don’t want to get the metal ferrule on the brush wet, but you just want to cover—there you go.

So you cover all the bristles and you let that soak, and now you can go back and finish cleaning up the rest of the job. Come back, and that brush will be ready for thorough cleaning as soon as you pull it out of the can.

Editorial Contributors
Joe Truini

Joe Truini

Radio Show Co-Host

Joe Truini is a contractor, author, and the host of “Simple Solutions” on Today’s Homeowner TV and the weekly Today’s Homeowner radio show. He has worked on both large commercial projects and residential remodeling, and has written for national publications such as This Old House and Popular Mechanics. He has also written eight books, including three best-selling shed-building books. Joe lives in Connecticut with his family and enjoys hiking, traveling, and baseball in his spare time.

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