5 handy tips for cleaning up after painting

Done painting for the day and unsure how to clean up? Here are five handy tips for cleaning and storing your painting tools.

Tips for cleaning up after painting
5 handy tips for cleaning up after painting

1. How to clean paint spatters

Remove wet paint spatters from painted woodwork by wiping them away with a damp sponge or rag.

  • Dried spatters can be cleaned up with a light rubbing of very fine (#00) steel wool.

2. Store paint the right way

  • Clear glass jars and plastic milk jugs with lids make convenient containers for leftover latex paints. You can see what paint colours you have and how much is left.
  • Use a funnel to fill the container. Drop a few marbles in so you can stir paint just by shaking it when needed.

3. Dealing with small touch-ups

For small nicks and scratches, a cotton swab makes a simple, disposable applicator.

  • Pour a small amount of paint in a paper cup. Dip the cotton end of the swab, and use dabbing motions until you’ve covered the scratch.

4. Brush and roller care

  • If you need to take a few hours’ break from painting, or if you’re not able to finish in one day, wrap and seal wet brushes or rollers in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store in a cool place. When you resume, soften them in water (if using latex paint) or mineral spirits (if using oil-based paint).
  • For longer storage, take the time to clean quality brushes and rollers thoroughly. Wash latex brushes under a steady stream of warm water, or let them soak flat in a tray of warm water.
  • Use a small comb to rake paint flakes out of bristles. Towel away the excess water in the brushes, and hang them up to dry by the handle hole.
    Clean brushes used with oil paint in paint thinner, and hang them in a bucket of thinner.
  • To keep bristle tips above the bottom of the can, so they won’t bend while soaking, suspend them from a length of wire coat hanger set across the top of the open can. After a few days, remove the brushes, blot away the thinner with paper towels, wrap and store by hanging them.
  • To clean a reusable roller of latex paint, wipe it repeatedly on a sheet of cardboard or newspaper until it appears nearly dry. Slide the roller cover off and hold it under running water until the water runs clear. Wash with soap and warm water, rinse, squeeze and blot lightly with a clean, dry cloth. Stand the sleeve on end to dry. Wash the roller frame in soap and water, too.
  • It is possible to clean a roller sleeve of oil-based paint with mineral spirits, but it may not be worth it.

5. Keep a paint record

To document the paint you have used in redoing a room, write down the brand, colour and finish of the wall, trim and ceiling paints on a piece of painter’s tape.

  • Stick the tape to the underside of the switch plate before you reattach it at the end of the job. Then, when you need to do touch-ups or you want to repaint the room the same colours, you’ll know exactly where to find this important information.

Storing your painting tools and cleaning up after a job might be easier than you think. Keep these tips in mind, and finish a day of painting the right way.

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