How to Clean Dried Acrylic Paint Brushes (A Thorough Guide)

Are your brush bristles stiff? Or are you having difficulty cleaning the dry acrylic paint from your brushes? How frequently have you had an explosion of imagination, got an extraordinary thought in your mind, ran into your studio, and set up your canvas just to locate that every one of your brushes has dried acrylic paint on them, and is currently unusable?

Figuring out how to clean dried acrylic paintbrushes has always been a problem for many painters.

how to clean dried acrylic paint brushes

Acrylic paint dries quite fast and if you do not clean your paint brushes right away after you have done applying the paint, then you might get stubborn, dried paint on the bristles in return (which will not be cleaned easily). Everyone working with acrylic paints once in their lives has gone through a problematic procedure to remove dry paint from their brushes as it makes the bristles stiff resulting in the paintbrush being useless.

If you can also relate to the statement above, then do not worry, you are in the right place, we got a hack for you! You don’t have to throw your stiff bristle brushes away anymore. In this article, you will find the right solution to this problem and how to clean dried acrylic paint brushes will no longer be confusing to you after you are done reading the article.

How to Clean Dried Acrylic Paint Brushes

How to fix dry acrylic paint brushes has forever been a query from everyone who is not familiar with paints. To fix this, there are a few common items that can be used to remove the stubborn acrylic paint from your paintbrushes giving them a new life. The most common ones are acetone and isopropyl alcohol.

how to clean dried acrylic paint brushes

I know that we are always worn out following a difficult day of painting. However, cleaning brushes is as important a piece of your daily artwork tasks, as is painting. You can’t simply be done until or unless you clean your paintbrushes every day after your work.  

Acrylic paints are water-based paints that tend to dry fast. A little negligence on your side can result in a huge disaster and distress. As the paint is water-based and not oil-based, it tends to make the synthetic bristles of your brush as stiff as a board. So let us discuss how you can fix this problem.

How to clean paint brushes with mineral spirits?

how to clean dried acrylic paint brushes

Do you ever wonder how professional painters clean their brushes and give them a new life? The most easily available and pocket-friendly solvent to remove dry acrylic from your paintbrushes is “mineral spirits” which professional painters have been using for ages. Just like salt and pepper are the primary ingredients for a recipe, mineral spirits are known to be the primary item for a painter.

Let us suppose that your paint is still wet on the brush. You should dip the brush bristles into the solvent to start cleaning them. Rubbing the brush against the walls of the container that it is dipped into would help the solvent penetrate right into the bristles and remove the paint when it is pulled out. Now prepare to spot dry with a perfect painter’s cloth (A good cloth matters a lot!). 

Even after all this process, your bristles can still have paint on them. Try repeating this procedure again and again until you get the paint off your bristles. When the bristles of your brush are completely clean, let them dry and you’ll notice that they won’t dry out and become hard solid. This way you are permitting the brush to be used again and again.

how to clean dried acrylic paint brushes

Now, if the paint has been dried in your brush bristles, you will have to dip your brush bristles in the solvent for a long period (but not more than 10 minutes as the solvent tends to fray the bristles of your brush if it is intact for a long period). You may repeat this process by taking breaks in between. This could take a few hours (but not days, which should be good, I guess?) depending upon how much paint has dried in the bristles.


Acetone is known to be an essential ingredient in every household, be it a medicine or a self-care product; such as a nail paint remover. It is known to be a solvent that does wonders in its own right.

Try dipping your stiff bristle brushes in acetone for a while and you’ll notice the dry acrylic paint fading away. This is because when you dip the brush in acetone, it profoundly enters the brush bristles and tries its level best to break down the acrylic build-up. Acrylic is safe to use. All of us are well aware of its strong scent, so it would be pretty reasonable to use it in a place that is out of children’s reach.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Another option in contrast to acetone and one that conveys fundamentally less scent would be Isopropyl Alcohol. It also tends to convey indistinguishable impacts as acetone. The liquor will work to enter and break down the acrylic paint development on your paintbrush. The same product is also found in various ˜Acrylic removers” that are easily available online (such as on Amazon) but they are pretty expensive and not as effective as using isopropyl alcohol separately because acrylic removers have lots of other ingredients mixed with isopropyl alcohol that decrease its intensity.

At the end of the day, you can try combing your paintbrush to remove any big chunk or residue of acrylic paint in the bristles. Along with this, giving your paintbrush a little haircut won’t do any harm, it’ll just make the bristles more even and softer!

How to use these solvents? (I.e. mineral spirit, acetone & isopropyl alcohol)

The life of a painter tends to get easier when he gets a hold of any one of these solvents. The process of using these solvents to help get rid of the dried acrylic paint from your paintbrush is pretty simple. All you need to do is grab a glass jar with the solvent of your choice or the solvent you managed to get your hands on.

It may be acetone, mineral spirit, or rubbing alcohol (often known as isopropyl alcohol). Drip your brush in and let it soak for about 5 to 10 minutes (not more than that). Some people just leave their brushes dipped in solvents overnight and then wake up to a disaster as the access of these solvents destroys the bristles of your paintbrush and might get them frayed.

After soaking your brushes for good 5 to 10 minutes, simply take the brush out of the jar and rinse it with Lukewarm water and detergent. Repeat the process until all the residues of the acrylic are gone.


Cleaning paintbrushes daily is as essential as completing your art task. It is not considered to be done until you clean up the mess that was created by you while doing your art task for the day. It tends to be easier to clean wet paint from bristles. If you let the paint dry, then try dipping your paintbrush bristles in solvents mentioned above in the article by keeping all the precautions in mind. 

For the best experience of painting, the paint brushes must be soft and should be in their best shape. For this, we should know how to clean the dried acrylic paint brushes. This will not only make the brush bristles soft, but also the paint brushes will remain in their best shape for a long period of time. I hope this article was helpful to you.

Happy painting! 🙂