The Simple Way Joanna Gaines Gets Her Dirty Paintbrushes Squeaky Clean

If you avoid doing DIY paint jobs in your home because you dread the clean-up process afterwards, you may be looking for a simple way to get your paintbrushes squeaky clean with minimal effort. HGTV's "Fixer Upper" star Joanna Gaines uses everyday items you probably have in your kitchen — vinegar and soapy water — to make her paintbrushes spotless. But the real secret behind this clever hack is the common everyday tool Gaines uses — a comb, which helps to remove all the lumpy and gunky bits from between the bristles.

Joanna Gaines is an interior designer, author, and a co-founder of the Magnolia lifestyle brand. She has plenty of hands-on experience and shares a variety of easy home hacks with her audience, which makes simple tasks like painting much easier. She describes her straightforward method in a YouTube video when she says, "After you've let them soak [in vinegar,] I use this tool, it's like a brush/comb you can get it at any hardware store, and what you do is you brush the gunk out." This method can be especially beneficial for hardened paintbrushes that are completely caked in paint.

How to clean dirty paintbrushes with vinegar

To accomplish this easy home hack, you will need white vinegar, hot water, soapy water, and two large containers to dunk and soak your paintbrushes in, as well as a suitably-sized brush or comb and a towel for drying. Gaines says to pour hot vinegar into a container and let the dirty paintbrushes soak for 20 to 30 minutes. You can heat the vinegar in a microwave or on the stove and then pour it into the container with your paintbrushes. If your dirty paintbrushes are really hard and caked in dried paint, leave them to soak for longer.

After soaking, Gaines shows how to use your brush or comb tool to tease out all the thick spots that have now softened and loosened in the bristles. Take your time doing this to make sure that all of the chunky pieces of gunk are removed before transferring the clean paintbrush to another container with soapy water, which will rinse off all of the vinegar. Finally, after patting down the paintbrushes, run them through some warm water in order to get the soap out, then dry them on a clean towel.

Why is this method effective for cleaning paintbrushes?

This wouldn't be an easy home hack without a cheap and effective solution to your problem, and vinegar is the holy grail ingredient for natural, eco-friendly cleaning. It's beneficial for so many useful home cleaning hacks. This is because vinegar contains 4% to 18% acetic acid, which is also used in some household cleaning products to remove lime scale. Its acidic ability to dissolve substances is what makes it an ideal product to help soften hard paint, therefore making it easier to clean your dirty paintbrushes — especially with the aid of a comb to tease the paint clumps out.

White vinegar is often diluted with water when using it as a cleaning product in the home, and the recommended ratio of vinegar to water is 1:1 for most cleaning solutions. However, you can also soak brushes in a more concentrated solution if they have more stubborn dried paint. However, be very careful if you have porous surfaces or floors, as the acidic nature of vinegar can damage surfaces like marble and granite. It's also important to remove the vinegar with soap and then rinse the paintbrushes in clean water, as this will make them look and feel brand new.