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What Liquid Is Used To Remove Acrylic Paint From Brushes

What Liquid Is Used To Remove Acrylic Paint From Brushes

Do you want to remove acrylic paint from your paintbrushes?
Brushes, depending on their quality, can be more or less expensive. It is important to keep them functional as long as possible. Having dried paint can make the brush unusable. You don't want to regularly buy new brushes because the old ones are out of order.

But don't panic, we are passionate about this subject and know exactly how to help you. In this article, you will discover:

  • Why paint dries on brushes
  • What liquids are used to clean dried paint from brushes?

Cleaning brushes will no longer hold any secrets for you. You'll know exactly which liquid to use to remove paint.

Let's find out together right now.

What are the components of acrylics paint?

Before knowing what liquid to use to remove dried paint from brushes, it is important to know the composition of acrylic painting.

Acrylic paint is essentially made of water, pigments and acrylic resin. It dries by evaporating the water it contains.

What liquids are used to remove acrylic paint from different types of surfaces?

In this section, we will list the liquids generally used to remove acrylics paint mainly on surfaces (except paintbrushes). Each liquid is more or less appropriate for a type of surface.

Ammonia solution

Household ammonia is a relatively inexpensive and quite effective for removing almost or completely dried acrylic paint from non-porous surfaces. This liquid is effective on metal, glass and plastic surfaces. Ammonia is often used in acrylic emulsions to raise the pH. The foam type may actually be the best, as it contains detergent to keep dissolved particles afloat for easy rinsing.

Be careful because this liquid can give off a lot of smoke when used. It is recommended that ammonia be used outdoors or under a fume hood or exhaust system. In rare cases, the fumes can also cause allergic reactions.

It is important to note that ammonia should not be used to clean ordinary brushes. It dissolves brass, including the brass plating on the ferrules of brushes, and blackens aluminum.

Although this liquid can be used to remove acrylic paint from surfaces, it is not especially recommended for removing dried paint from a paintbrush because of its effect on the ferrule.

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol is effective for removing dried acrylic painting from non-porous surfaces, but also from clothing. To remove paint from fabric with this liquid, you will need to rub it in sometimes for a long time. It is an inexpensive cleaning solution and available in most stores. It is advisable to use alcohol which has a concentration of 99% because it works better (beware, this product is rarer and must be ordered online). This liquid has a dissolving action on the acrylic binder.

Rubbing alcohol works well on metal, glass, plastics and fabrics.

Denatured Alcohol

Denatured alcohol is a little different than rubbing alcohol. It is a little stronger for the following two reasons:

  • It does not contain water
  • It is composed of ethyl and methyl alcohol, which are more powerful solvents than rubbing alcohol

Be careful, this liquid contains methanol which is a powerful poison, but like all alcohols, it is quite flammable. It is strongly recommended to use this product in a ventilated area.

Denatured alcohol works on metal, glass and plastics.


If you are having great difficulty cleaning acrylic paint from a surface, you can use acetone which is a much stronger option. Unlike alcohol, this strong solvent is firmly discouraged on plastics or synthetic fabrics. This solvent is used to treat hard to reach areas where scrubbing is not possible.

You can use acetone on non-porous surfaces like metal and glass. Like alcohols, acetone is extremely flammable, but it has low toxicity.

Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer thinner is a mixture of different powerful solvents that removes acrylic painting from glass and metal. 

Be careful, this liquid can affect your health in the long term because it contains toluene and methanol. It can be used on glass and metal. This lacquer thinner should only be used outdoors.

What liquids to use to remove acrylic paint from brushes

There are several liquids that can be used to remove acrylic painting from brushes. 

Water and soap

This is the most accessible and effective liquid, especially when the paint is not yet dry. To do this, simply dip your brush with wet paint in a small amount of warm water. This will allow you to clean a first part of the paint.

You can use warm water, soap and a towel (or paper) to effectively help you remove the acrylic paint.

This is the simplest method, but it is especially good when the paint is still wet.


To clean paint, you can also use vinegar. This method is especially good for nylon brushes. Soak them for 30 minutes in vinegar.

The vinegar will clean the paint and soften the brush.

Then washing them in warm soapy water, scrubbing away any remaining paint.

Rubbing alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, is effective in removing dry acrylic painting.

To do this, you must first soak the brush in the liquid for about 5 minutes. Then, with protective gear (gloves) remove the dry paint by the bristles.

Once this is done, and you have removed all the paint, rinse it off.

If you want to have more details, read our article "How To Clean Dried Acrylic Paint Brushes".

In this article, you will discover several tips for cleaning your brushes. You will be able to follow step by step what work.


As you can see, the best liquid for removing acrylic paint from brushes is water.

With all this information, you are now an expert at removing acrylic paint from brushes. Depending on the surfaces to be treated, you will choose the most suitable liquid.

It is important to note that the liquids mentioned in this article do not always work with oil paint.

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