I have recently painted using Hammerite metal paint. When I tried to clean the brush afterwards using White Spirit, I noticed it didn't work. Hammerite sells a specialized cleaning product, but I'd like to use a product that is useful in other situations too. Is there anyone who knows what kind of cleaning product might help?

  • Clean brushes with olive oil,works a treat.
    – Phil C
    May 10, 2020 at 22:42

6 Answers 6


The consensus of opinion on the Ultimate Handyman forum seems to be to use an old brush and throw it away after use.

A couple of alternatives are suggested:

Ordianry cellulose thinners will also work.

So presumably the Hammerite product is cellulose thinners based.


I wrap mine very tightly in plastic and stick them in my brushmate, as long as i use them every couple of months they stay reasonably soft, even if they go a little stiff a drop of hammerite thiners brings them back to life.

Which is something I do overnight (or a couple of days at most) when using gloss paint. It does keep the bristles soft for a while so saves on white spirit and having to find a clean brush for the next coat.

  • Yep, cellulose thinner did the job. Thanks for the response!
    – Dimitri C.
    Nov 2, 2010 at 12:30
  • 1
    If I need to store brushes for a few hours to overnight, I'll wrap them tightly in plastic and throw, er, place them gently into the freezer. 10 minutes or so out of the freezer and they've thawed and are just as wet as when they went in, ready for fresh painting.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 18, 2021 at 17:56

Its not cellulose, you need to use acetone, or MEK [evo stik cleaner or methyl ethyl ketone] might also work.


Online, I saw someone suggesting olive oil to clean the brush so I gave it a go. I only had a small area to do& was using a small brush. When finished, I wiped as much paint off the brush as possible on kitchen paper and then sat it in a little pot of olive oil& worked the oil into the bristles. I then washed it out with a generous amount of washing up liquid& rinsed in warm water. The brush is as good as new. I’ve done it twice& both times had a good result. Not sure if it’d be practical with a big brush.


The actual Hammerite cleaner/thinners is a chlorinated thinner. But it is very expensive . Acetone is a good alternative. This is often the base for nail varnish remover. If you just need a little , then borrow your wife`s nail varnish remover. I have also tried Cellulose thinners : not quite as good and the smell can be overwhelming , it is dangerous to inhale this stuff. I buy 2 litre bottles of Acetone . Be careful not to let Acetone near plastics, as it can melt lots of plastics (that includes your TV remotes ) I lost one when a tin dribbled onto an old remote, just a sticky mess. So lock up your remotes. Nail varnish remover will do the same. You can use cheap Propyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to clean sticky labels off all kinds of stuff. Much cheaper than branded bottles. This will not damage plastics either.


The cheapest way is to mix nail polish remover with white spirits? Best cleaning method!


Hammerite is thinned/cleaned with xylene (AKA xylol). Judging by odor, it's probably the main (or only) ingredient in the special, ridiculously expensive proprietary Hammerite thinner. Xylene is available (or was until recently) by the gallon or quart at the big box stores. It's actually the only solvent I know of that works (and works well) with Hammerite. FYI I've not seen the brand "Hammerite" for sale in many years; I think they sold the rights to Rustoleum, who markets a similar product. I have many partial quarts of 20-year-old Hammerite. It's some funny stuff.

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