Let's Talk About Cleaning Brushes w/Linseed Oil Soap.
Updated: Aug 23
One of the many benefits of working with natural oil-based products is that no solvents or harsh cleaners are needed for clean-up.
Linseed Oil Soap, an excellent all-around surface cleaner, is all that is needed to break down the oil and effectively clean hands and brushes.
It is simply saponified Purified Linseed Oil with no additives so a very simply formulation, especially in comparison to many conventional petrochemical-based soaps and cleaning products.
While diluted for general surface cleaning, use Linseed Oil Soap full-strength to clean old wood before painting or staining with the traditional coatings. Rinse well and let dry fully.
During an ongoing painting project, avoid cleaning brushes constantly by storing them in Viking Purified Raw Linseed Oil or another Swedish purified/degummed raw linseed oil option. All that is needed is enough oil to fully submerge the bristles.
At the beginning of the work day, wipe out any excess oil from the bristles to avoid the longer dry time of certain raw linseed oils before continuing to paint. At the end of the work day, place the brush back in the jar of oil. Repeat as needed until the project is complete.
Once the project is finished, it may be time to clean brushes fully.
While there is no "correct" way to clean brushes, here are some helpful suggestions to clean brushes efficiently when working with Linseed Oil Paint.
Wipe out any excess Linseed Oil Paint from the brush using a paper towel or cloth/rag.
Dampen and dispose of paper/cloth/rag to avoid fire hazard.
Place a bucket in your work sink to catch waste water.
Linseed Oil Paint is non-toxic and 100% micro-plastic free so it does not pose the same risk as many modern coatings in the water system but the natural pigments are basically dirt and putting that down your drain is not recommended.
Pour a quarter sized amount of Linseed Oil Soap into the palm of your hand, work into the bristles, and rinse with warm water. Repeat as needed until the water runs clear.
Work soap into the bristles from different directions and rinse from all directions.
If cleaning brushes seems to be giving you trouble, try leaving your brushes in Linseed Oil Soap and water for an hr or so to break down the oil and speed up the cleaning process above.
An overnight soak in Linseed Oil Soap and warm water may be especially helpful when cleaning brushes after using the more stubborn Authentic Pine Tar mixture
Position the clean brushes pointing up in a jar or container as they dry so any residue collects at the base of the brush vs. throughout the bristles (potentially hardening them).
While cleaning brushes may seem tedious, a good brush is worth cleaning and can last a lifetime. That little extra bit of effort to clean the bristles well means the brush will last for many future projects.