This Homemade Paint Brush Cleaner Is a Snap to Make!


Hey all – this homemade paint brush cleaner is exactly what you need if you’re looking for a solution to getting paint sediment off your brushes so it will be easier to give them a “real” cleaning later on. Whether you work with oil or acrylic paints a great deal, you will love this.

I know, we wan to spend more time painting and less time uh, working, amIright? One of the best ways is to come up with a good “screening system”.

There are several ways to create a good screen for brushes, so let’s take a look now. Two ways that will depend on the types of jars you have on hand, and another that might take a little time, but will be a good fit. And look good, too, as well as clean those bristles.

🎨 Oh and don’t forget to pin this to your favorite DIY/craft/art board to read and apply later! 🎨

homemade wire screen brush scrubber
Cleaning “as you go” is the best approach. A device like a small bucket or jar with a bristle scrubbing screen is a good idea and for pennies on the dollar you can make one too just like this!

Small Can Brush Scrubber

One idea I really like is the use of an empty tuna fish can with small holes drilled into one side. I got this clever hack from a prior art class so I know it’s a great way to make a good diy brush scrubber – only problem as I see it, you’ll need a jar with a wide enough mouth to accommodate this. I make tuna salad quite often so cans of tuna are always on the shopping list.

I measured a can out of curiosity and the diameter is a little bit under 3.5″. I’ve only got one jar (out of many) that it will fit through. Another jar which looked to be almost the same size, but surprise, surprise, it didn’t fit through the neck.

Here’s a little infographic I did to show you how this works…..

can jar brush cleaner

==>>So its not always how big or wide the jar is, it’s how wide the mouth of it is.

The jar that was a good fit, I felt like it was a little too gawky for this. This can be frustrating – you may find a jar that is wide enough, but it takes up too much room, so you may have to go through a lot of jars that fits both criteria.

So if you finally find a “match”, the next thing to do is to wash the empty can real well, carefully remove the lid so you don’t get scratched, turn upside down and using a small bit, drill about 20-25 little holes. Return it to the jar in this position with the holes showing. It’ll work great to catch paint sediment off brushes.

Use a Screen Drainscreen used for cleaning brushes

A mesh screen drain is another good homemade  paint brush cleaner idea! Now these bad boys are carried at home improvement stores – they are made with a protruding screen and a metal base; and normally used to catch all the “yuckies” in the sink or bathtub.

Easy – all you have to do is drop one in your jar. The hard part is getting a good fit! Although these do come in different sizes, the metal rim on the outside might make it trickier to tell if it will fit or not. Especially since you cannot really trim something like this. I’m using the smallest size in a fruit preserve jar I saved but it did not fit all of them.

So you may want to measure the diameter of your preferred jars first prior to shopping; THEN add a fourth of an inch to allow for the metal rim. The one I own was one of three of different sizes. Many times you can get those and if you have enough jars you’ll find one of them will fit it well.

2 pcs Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Basket Filter Trap, 2.752 pcs Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Basket Filter Trap, 2.75See on AmazonMR.SIGA Stainless Steel Sink Drain Strainer, Dishwasher Safe, Pack of 3MR.SIGA Stainless Steel Sink Drain Strainer, Dishwasher Safe, Pack of 3See on AmazonDrain Hair Catcher, 4 Pack, Shower Drain Cover Different Sizes from 2.1Drain Hair Catcher, 4 Pack, Shower Drain Cover Different Sizes from 2.1See on Amazon

DIY A Wire Screen To Fit Your Jar

Now this approach in my opinion, is the best way to go! Making your own wire screen brush cleaner is the best way as you’ll avoid that potential margin of error and you won’t have to waste time hunting for a jar with an opening that will fit this or that device, and it’s pretty easy to do!

You’ll need three things-your jar (and lid), some flexible aluminum wire in 18-22 gauge, and a pair of needle nosed pliers. Here are some of my favorite types of wire:

Craft Aluminum Wire 328 Feet 20 Colors FlexibleCraft Aluminum Wire 328 Feet 20 Colors FlexibleSee on AmazonMandala Crafts 12 14 16 18 20 22Mandala Crafts 12 14 16 18 20 22See on AmazonCOSOOF Craft Wire for Jewelry Making, 22 GaugeCOSOOF Craft Wire for Jewelry Making, 22 GaugeSee on Amazon

Start by getting your jar, and your roll of wire….this step will be laying the groundwork. Take a long strand of wire and wrap it around the mouth of the jar to form the base – this will give you an idea of how wide to start it off.

Since this wire will flex a little , it’s ok if it isn’t a perfect fit. Use the pliers to cut it off and wrap around the ends.

wire scrubber brush cleaner diy

Try to turn them under so there are no sharp ends sticking out.

Now you’ll want to begin cutting off some additional strands of wire to form the grid pattern. This wire grid you’ll be creating will be very similar to those brush cleaning screens you see in art supply shops.

There are several ways to do this – one is by cutting a series of short strands, or you could just cut a couple of wire lengths that will wrap around the circle you just started. I used a wrap-around method instead. It’s a lot quicker, and you can still get that nice mesh pattern. See how I’m doing it, below:

making a wire paint cleaner scrubber

Then I went on the other side and alternated with a different color. I was kind of thinking about the Georgia Bulldogs team colors here. Get creative!

It doesn’t have to be all gold or silver- just be sure you create a tight weave to make it easier to loosen paint off brush bristles which you can’t do with a loose design.

diy paint brush cleaner

When you finally have a good pattern finished, now we need to find a way to support it so it will sit near the bottom of the jar but not on it, so the paint sediment will have a place to drop.

Take another length of wire, about 9-10″, this time it can be a thicker gauge.

diy paint screen

Wrap it into a coil and fasten on end onto your woven piece you just finished. If carried out right, it should raise the mesh screen off the bottom by at least an inch.

Now you can fill it with water or whatever odorless paint thinner you use. Next time you are working, take your paintbrushes and wipe the excess paint off on a paper towel, and then gently dip into the new cleaner you made  just run the bristles over the screen like so….Great idea, right?

diy wire brush screen

If you need some ideas for other brush cleaning products, I personally love Mona Lisa Pink Soap and Murphy’s Oil the best. Both are awesome products that smell great and don’t strip away natural oils of the bristles. Refrain from using alcohol-based products as they can dry out the bristles.

Now you have the perfect homemade paint brush cleaner jar screen! Don’t forget to pop the lid back on and keep it in a safe place.

Additional Cleaning Tips

More tidbits you should know about brush care and cleaning…

  • Keep moistened paper towels at your work station, this will prevent the paint residue drying on your brushes prematurely.
  • Resist the temptation to leave brushes in their water compartment. It can warp the bristles or weaken other parts of the brush. Always lay them flat while working.
  • Always wipe off excess paint after you are through for the day; you want to be sure you rinse as little as possible down the sink to minimize plumbing problems.
  • Store your brushes UPRIGHT so they can dry thoroughly.

Good quality brushes can last a lifetime so it pays to take good care of them with a handy tool like this one. Enjoy, and say good bye to endless bristle cleaning since this is a much easier way.

2 thoughts on “This Homemade Paint Brush Cleaner Is a Snap to Make!”

  1. There are cans that would be an easier fit than a tuna fish can but would work the same way. (i.e. a small sized wet cat food can, some olives, jalapenos, hatch green chilies, etc come in small sized cans similar to the ones tuna comes in)

  2. Yeah, that’s a good point…Hadn’t thought of that one; it’s funny because I give Fancy Feast to my cats and those cans are so dainty, Lol

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