How do you clean and store paint and paintbrushes?

What is the best way to clean paint brushes and how can you store leftover pots of paint? Read our four tips below to keep your paintbrushes and paint ready for the next project.

Choosing the right amount of paint is an almost impossible task. Therefore, it is very likely that you will have some extra paint or even a few pots left over after you have finished. Throwing out the extra paint is wasteful, and what can you do if you want to keep the leftover pots for a few more years to use on the next potential job?

Storing the remaining paint is not always easy. In addition, you probably also want to organize the paintbrushes and paint rollers neatly for the next job. So, what’s the best way to store paint, paintbrushes, and paint rollers? Follow the four tips below.

How long can you store paint?

Before we go over how best to store paint, how long can you actually store paint? Before you start, you should know that there is a big difference between a paint can that has already been opened and one that is still closed. In general, paint can last for several years if the tin has not been opened. You can store an opened tin with interior paint for up to 2 years. Paint based on turpentine lasts even longer, and can even be stored up to 3 years.

opened pots of paint

The shelf-life depends on certain factors such as the type of paint and whether it is water-based or turpentine-based. Unopened interior paint or water-based acrylic paint can last up to 10 years. For cans of alkyd and oil-based paint, storage time is up to 15 years. Because unopened paint has not yet been exposed to air, it still has the same ratio of liquid to solid.

Tip: Mark the paint pot with a marker and note down the date you opened the can.

How can you check whether a bucket of paint is still good?

The problem is: a paint pot doesn’t come with an expiration date. To check if the paint is still usable, open the closed can of paint and mix the contents with a wooden stick/mixer for at least five minutes. After this, take a paintbrush, dip it in the paint and apply some to a cardboard piece. If you can smooth out the paint nicely, then it is still in good condition. It’s that easy!

used paint cans

What about a paint can that has already been opened? If an opened paint jar has been exposed to air, there will likely be a thicker coat of paint on the surface. Therefore, remove the top layer of hardened paint and only use the part that is still liquid. Just like with an unopened can of paint, you have to mix it with a wooden stick or mixer for a few minutes and try it out on a piece of cardboard.

Tip: Smell the paint to see if it is still usable. An unusual odor or the presence of mold in the paint can mean that bacteria has contaminated it, and you have no choice but to throw it away.

How do you store paint?

Storing paint may seem pretty effortless, but that’s actually not the case. Chances are, you are not storing paint properly. One of the most important tips for storing paint is to keep paint pots away from places that can either get extremely hot, cold, or damp. Therefore, a garage or basement is not always the best place to store cans of paint because they are often too cold or too humid.

cans of paint on a shelf

When storing the cans of paint, make sure to remove any leftover paint from the sides and check if the lid is closed securely. Oxygen is the biggest culprit in making paint unusable. When less than half of the can remains, it is better to transfer it to a smaller container using a funnel. The best place to store paint is actually inside the house and in a place where sunlight doesn’t get in.

Tip: It is better not to use a screwdriver to open a can of paint as this can dent or warp the lid and make an airtight seal impossible. Instead, use a paint can opener.

Storing paint brushes

Before putting your paintbrushes and paint rollers away, it is essential to make sure that they are thoroughly cleaned. To make the task easier, clean the paintbrushes and paint rollers right after painting. Do not put them in a jar with water since that will only damage the bristles, and make sure they are dry before storing them.

cleaning paintbrush and paint roller

Clean the paintbrushes and paint rollers with the appropriate solvent depending on the type of paint. If you used oil-based paint, clean the brushes with turpentine. If you used water-based paint, such as acrylic or latex, clean the brushes with warm water mixed with detergent or another type of soap. Then, rinse the brushes with water and dry them hanging on a wire. Paintbrushes and rollers often have a hole in their handles for this purpose.

Tip: Turpentine is very bad for the environment, so use a bowl to collect the turpentine and dispose of it at a hazardous waste depot.

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