Taking care of your brushes is vital. If you don’t keep them clean and tidy, then they aren’t long for this world, but let’s say that you do… how long do acrylic paint brushes last? If you take good care of your paint brushes, it boils down quality of the brush itself and the frequency of us, so a ballpark figure would be that your brush should last 1 to 2 years. It is better to aim for the 1-year mark, however, as frequent changes help to ensure all your bristles are at their best.
In this article we’ll talk about care and maintenance of your brushes, as well as what you should do with that colorful acrylic water once you are done.
I’ll give you a hint – don’t dump it down the sink!
How often should you change your paint brushes?
If you are on a very tight budget then the 1 – 2 year ‘ballpark figure’ is possible to do, but keep in mind this is a small-to-moderate amount of painting activity. If you do a lot of painting, it is going to be much better to change your brushes out every 6 months.
The problem is, of course, basic wear and tear. If you do quite a lot of painting during the week, then it starts to take its toll on your brushes and they can end up frayed and not performing at their best. The easiest way to tell when it’s time for replacement is to simply wet the brush and gauge how well it forms a point.
If your brush doesn’t form a neat little point, but instead looks a little jagged, or worst of all – it’s dropped a few bristles on the path to perfect art, then you really want to consider swapping it out. Generally, the mess of jagged bristles will be pretty obvious, but just look for that point and you should be able to make the right judgement call.
Your lines and brushstrokes deserve it!
How do you maintain acrylic paint brushes?
Maintaining your brushes is a lot easier if you clean as you go. Resist the urge to leave your brush sitting in a cup of water, as this is bad for your brush bristles. Over time the paint water will soak in the handles, too, so consider glass-soaking a no-no.
What you can do is set aside a damp paper towel to lay the brush on and this will do the trick just fine. After that you need to get in the habit of dip, rinse, and blot. Just look at your brush and if you need to change colors, dip it in your cold water, swish-rinse it, and then lay it on the paper towel to blot it and make sure that it is clean.
After you have finished painting, you will want to do a more thorough cleaning, using a bin of cold water and a little mild soap. Blot-test with paper towels to make sure that you’ve gotten the pigment out and then gently trace the tip on top of some moisturizing soap.
Let your brushes dry and I’ll address the cleaning water in the next section.
Is it OK to wash acrylic paint down the sink?
You don’t want to simply rinse your brushes in the sink and I’ll tell you why. Acrylic paint, though advertised as non-toxic, is actually… well… a little bit toxic. It all boils down to the certain paints and some chemical additives which are there to keep mold out.
Your acrylic paint has tiny amounts of formaldehyde and ammonia in and this makes it unsuitable to just send down the drain. Further, with certain colors, heavy metals and other specialized little wonders of chemistry are employed as pigments. Some of these are quite toxic and so if you just send it down the drain, then it goes back to be filtered out and who can say how it’s efficient that’s going to be.
A better solution is to get some clumping kitty litter and dump your paint water into that. This will dilute it quite a bit, absorbing the water and making semi-plastic chunks and you can dispose of it in the trash quite safely this way.
In this article I’ve talked a little about expected brush life, maintenance of your brushes, and what you can do with your acrylic paint water once you are finished with a vigorous painting session. As far as expected paint brush life, your acrylic paint brushes can technically last for 1 to 2 years, but it’s really a good idea to swap them out every 6 months just to make sure that your strokes and fine lines are looking their absolute best.
Before I go, if you would like some hacks for getting the most life out of your paint brushes, then be sure to check out this 3rd party link here. It’s got some nifty tips in it that I think you will find quite useful!
Keep painting and living the good life!