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I was looking at a method to store my paint brushes after use. Specifically a natural hair brush after using poly or spar urethane. I saw this question about cleaning, but that’s not really what I’m looking for. I’ve been using mineral spirits to clean my brush and that seems to work well, but I read somewhere that some people store their brush in mineral spirits between use with great results.

Is anyone doing this that can comment on the effectiveness? Would ABS be a good option for making a tube that is sealable (threaded cap on top, glued cap on bottom)? Is there a better option than ABS?

  • You're asking about soaking the brush in mineral spirits constantly when not in use? I've never heard that. Brushes are typically stored dry in their original package to keep the bristles straight. – JPhi1618 Nov 26 '19 at 19:13
  • Correct @JPhi1618, I read somewhere (probably this site) that someone had stored their brushes in a container of mineral spirits for 14 yrs and they were good as new. – UnhandledExcepSean Nov 26 '19 at 19:18
  • Ok, sounds interesting. Looking forward to some input. – JPhi1618 Nov 26 '19 at 19:21
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zip-lok bags work well if you plan to re-ruse the brush for the same purpose in a few days (as an alternative to cleaning the brush) but if you used a two-part paint clean the brush because two-part paints can set in the absense of fresh air.

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We store a lot of brushes in cans of water.

As long as the paint/varnish/etc. is oil based, excluding air will be enough to keep them usable for a long time. I have one painter who swears that some of the brushes in his pail have been there decades.

The two things to watch out for are rust and evaporation. You want just enough water to cover the bristles, too much and the ferrule can rust on cheaper brushes and too little, obviously the air gets into the material drying it.

Lastly, before use you'll need to get all the water out and this is easy to do spinning the brush between your palms, holding the bristles inside an empty can (to catch the spin-off).

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  • How do you dry them out before use? Or do you just let the water contaminate the alkyd paints? Also, how do you stop the bristles from becoming waterlogged? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 26 '19 at 19:29
  • You don't dry them. Just wipe off the excess from the outside of the brush on the edge of the paint tin. It's the oils surrounding each bristle which makes the method work. Oil and water don't mix as you know so the water doesn't get too bad. Since the bristles are filled with oils, not much water goes in. It's easy to spin out what does go into the bristles/ferrule as I said. – handyman Nov 26 '19 at 20:17
  • Wiping them on the back of your mates overalls gets the water out :) – Solar Mike Nov 26 '19 at 23:46
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Not indefinitely, you'll saturate the wood handle, and the ferrule as well; as you paint, mineral spirits (you didn't say paint thinner) will crawl out of the ferrule and dilute and contaminate your paint. The first few square feet using a recently cleaned brush are a mess.

I dry my brushes by hanging from a nail or string. That's why brushes have holes in the handle.

One very useful trick is to hang the brushes so the bottom of the bristles is suspended halfway into a shallow cup of solvent. I.E. the solvent is 1/2" deep and the bottom of the bristles are at the 1/4" level. In this case, you can use a lighter cleaning (you still need some) and the remaining paint will capillary down the bristles and into the solvent. Leave it like that for 12-48 hours, and pull the brush out and hang it to dry. No longer or the solvent will evaporate to below the bristles and you'll have a mess.

If I'm just storing a brush for a few days to resume painting that same stuff later, I splash it with a little diluent (thinner) and wrap it up tightly in 2 grocery bags (1 isn't enough, and lets air in). I throw it in the freezer if it's a 2-part paint, as that keeps it from kicking. I have a sealed storage container to keep paint smells out of food.

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  • I wasn’t thinking to completely submerge the paintbrush, but maybe to just shy of the ferrule. But it was the first time I’d heard of this being done and the details were absent. Thanks for your input! – UnhandledExcepSean Nov 26 '19 at 19:43
  • @UnhandledExcepSean Yeah, don't let the bristles touch the bottom. ask me how I know lol. They only need 1/4" of contact with the bristles; wicking will take it the rest of the way. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 26 '19 at 19:44

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