How to Wash Paint Brushes: an eco-friendly approach

flat brush dipped in wall paint Annie Sloan

If you want to know the quickest, easiest, most environmentally friendly way to wash your paint brushes; you’ve come to the right place. Painting is a creative and fulfilling endeavour, but one aspect that often gets overlooked is the proper care and cleaning of paint brushes. Cleaning your brushes not only ensures their longevity but also plays a crucial role in reducing environmental impact.

All Annie Sloan paints are water-based and meet environmentally friendly targets which we’re continually working to improve. This is good news for the planet – and your washing up! Paints made from water bases (rather than dense, viscous, plasticky vinyl) and without added solvents or preservatives are easier to wash up.

Using paint in the least environmentally damaging way possible begins as soon as you pop open that tin lid (do so gently so that the lid can be sealed again properly, alleviating the need to use cling film to seal the tin). Stirring the paint thoroughly using a reusable wooden mixing stick is also important. The more well-stirred the paint, the more evenly distributed the ingredients will be, making the paint easy to use. By stirring properly you’ll be able to get more out of the can, and the less likely you are to need more coats, and thus, more paint!

Flat Brushes by Annie Sloan used by Polly Coulson painted with Chalk Paint®

Whilst Painting

Choosing well-made, non-porous brushes such as those in the Annie Sloan range will also help your paint go further and be easier to wash. Shop our brush collection here.

Whilst painting, try not to overload your brush. This will help in EVERY way. It’ll make cutting in easier; it will mean the paint dries faster, you’ll use less paint, you’ll waste less product, AND your brushes will be easier to clean.

After Painting

Our best paint brush cleaning advice? Time is of the essence! The sooner you start rinsing those brushes, the easier the paint will come off.

Annie’s tip: “Get stuck in there! Use your hands and fingers to gently massage brush bristles to quickly remove paint pigments. Standing there and letting the tap run, hoping the water will do the work for you is tempting, but it’s much quicker and more effective to manually squeeze excess paint from bristles and agitate soapy water to get rid of stubborn paint in the centre of the brush”.

Flat brush Annie sloan
Annie Sloan Flat Brush In Use

Steps to remove paint from your brushes:

  1. Remove excess paint by scraping it off gently. You can use a putty knife or similar tool and then scrape the tool on the paint tin to use next time.
  2. Fill a container with warm water and add a few drops of mild soap. Avoid harsh solvents or chemicals, as they may damage the bristles and harm the environment when flushed away.
  3. Swish the brush in the soapy water, ensuring the bristles are fully saturated.
  4. Gently massage the bristles to remove any remaining paint.
  5. Rinse the brush thoroughly under running water.
  6. Annie Sloan brushes have holes in the handles so that you can thread string or washing line through these holes and hang the brushes facing downwards to dry. This will stop water sitting where the bristles meet the brush handle and help them to last longer!


Did you know you can use the so-called “grey” water left over after washing your paintbrushes to water your plants? Our friends at the RHS approve the use of grey water for our indoor and outdoor plants – especially during times of drought and water shortage. They note that grey water varies in quality and can contain chemical contaminants like soap, however “soil and potting composts are effective at filtering them out, and the residues can sometimes act as a mild fertiliser”.

To save water, you might want to fill up a bucket or washing up bowl to wash your brushes, rather than running the tap. This way it’s also easier to carry the ‘grey’ water left over after washing brushes out to your flower beds.

Cleaning paint brushes properly is not only essential for their maintenance (which means you need to replace them less often) but also contributes to a greener painting approach. By following these eco-friendly techniques for cleaning Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan, Annie Sloan Wall Paint, and Annie Sloan Satin Paint brushes, you can enjoy your painting projects while minimizing environmental impact.

“Turn the tap off whenever you’re not using the water instead of running it incessantly. It’s an obvious one but it can be easy to forget!" - Annie Sloan

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