Restore Paint Brushes And Rollers With Just One Clever Laundry Hack

We've all been there — you've repainted a room, renovated a piece of furniture, or broken out your paint brushes for any number of creative endeavors, and in the midst of cleaning up your tarps and towels and paint, you've completely neglected the actual brushes and rollers. The next morning, the tools are crispy and coated in thick, seemingly impossible-to-remove coats of paint. Even if you get them washed before the paint crusts over, the brush's bristles tend to get stiff over time and can become unusable.

Painting materials are expensive — it doesn't matter if you use them for the occasional touch-up or on the regular; you don't want to have to toss them and repurchase them after each use. Save yourself some money by using something you likely already have in stock in your laundry room — fabric softener. Soaking your paint brushes and rollers in fabric softener and water can do wonders to restore them.

Fabric softener bath

The ideal way to preserve your paintbrushes is to clean them immediately after use, of course. This involves rinsing off the paint with water and a gentle soap — just make sure you're disposing of the paint in accordance with local waste laws. This will likely just get rid of excess paint, though, not the stuff lodged into the brush's bristles or the pores of a paint roller.

The best way to get the gunked-on paint off, whether it's dried down or you've cleaned off the paint tool, is with fabric softener. Mix 1/2 cup of the laundry product with 2 gallons of warm water, making sure the softener is thoroughly mixed in before adding your paintbrushes. Make sure your container is shallow enough that the handles won't get too soaked — if you leave them too long, the paint could chip or the wood could mold. Soak them for roughly 10 minutes or so, giving the brushes and rollers a swirl as the hardened paint begins to soften. Leave them in for longer, or repeat this process with fresh water as needed.

Try vinegar as a last resort

If fabric softener still isn't doing the trick, don't rush to toss out your brushes and rollers just yet — check your kitchen pantry first. Soaking your dried-up brushes and rollers in vinegar may be able to restore them to their former glory. Fully submerge them in a cup or basin full of white distilled vinegar for one hour.

Once the hour is up, try and bend the bristles. If they still don't give, refresh the vinegar and try again for another hour. If they do bend, continue to soak them in fabric softener. If a second vinegar bath still isn't working, try soaking the brush or roller in a pot of boiling vinegar — just make sure there aren't any meltable plastic elements and that it's safe to expose your paint to high heat. This could damage the handle, especially if it has a painted coating, but it's better than trashing your brushes altogether.