Painting has never really been my talent. I have helped more than one family member and friend paint or repaint walls or whole rooms. And of course I have a few fine paint-by-numbers pieces to my credit. But when I buy a paintbrush, it is not guaranteed to get more than one use for the money I spend. That is why I was so thrilled to learn how to reuse my paintbrushes for common household chores—things I do every week!
Average cost: paintbrushes
A quality paintbrush can run you anywhere from $1 to $20 depending on size and job description (Home Depot). Once you give your used paintbrushes a good cleaning, they are ready for their new second life!
How to clean used paintbrushes
This Old House recommends the following strategy to clean old paintbrushes.
- Heat regular white vinegar on the stove in a large pot.
- When hot (but not boiling) pop in the paintbrushes (paint side down).
- Simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Let the paintbrushes cool, then wash in hot, soapy water.
- Use a comb, toothbrush, or wide-bristled brush to loosen dried paint.
- Let them dry and reuse!
9 Useful household paintbrush hacks
Once they’re clean and dry, try these hacks to give your paintbrushes a very useful second life!
1. Clean mini-blinds, shades, etc.
Paintbrushes of all sizes make greater housecleaning assistants.
- What to do: Thicker paintbrushes can be great for cleaning sunshades and pleated Roman blinds. Thinner paintbrushes are perfect for cleaning thinner mini-blinds and dust covers.
2. Dust and clean out corners and around crown molding
Paintbrushes are also great for dusting chores—the thin bristles can get into places fingers and rags will never fit.
- What to do: Use the thinnest paintbrushes for dusting in cracks, crevices, and tight corners, especially around crown molding. Thicker paintbrushes can be great to dust wicker and rattan furniture, and especially outdoor furniture that may have attracted pesky insect residents you don't want to come in contact with!
3. Sweep up in small areas
If you have small areas that routinely gather dust, such as around a pet bed, inside cupboards or cabinets, or behind and around freestanding floor light fixtures, a longer-handled paintbrush makes a great small broom.
- What to do: Sweep around the edges and in corners and just brush the debris into your dustpan and empty it.
4. Dusting delicate knickknacks and light fixtures
A smaller paintbrush with finer bristles is the perfect choice for dusting the delicate items in your display case.
- What to do: Delicately work the bristles of a soft, fine paintbrush over, under, and around the knickknacks until they are shiny again. This can also work well for dusting inside light fixtures and around the bulb itself.
5. Paint away the dirt!
This hack can make household chores fun for the kiddos too!
- What to do: Start out with a bowl of warm, soapy water…and a paintbrush. Instruct the kids to "paint away" the dirt on the outsides of windows, doorjambs, and even a dirty car (paintbrushes are great for working dirt out of the tire rims!). A hose can spray away the suds and leave everything shiny and new.
6. Remove lint from your dryer's lint trap
My dryer's lint trap is like Fort Knox—literally! So I use a long-handled craft paintbrush to outsmart the lint at its own game.
- What to do: Just slide the paintbrush down into the lint trap and "paint out" the lint section by section.
7. Clean between tiles
A paintbrush makes a perfect implement for cleaning the grout in between tiles.
- What to do: Make a solution of baking soda and water. Using a thin but stout paintbrush with thicker bristles, work the baking soda/water combo into the grout between each tile, lightening and brightening as you go.
8. Clean out your delicate electronics
A paintbrush is a great choice for cleaning those delicate electronics with so many small moving parts.
- What to do: Use a paintbrush to get dust, crumbs, and debris out from between the keys of your keyboard. Delicately dust around the connections in the back of your computer and entertainment center, and around your surge protector and electrical cables. You can also dust around the edges of your outlets while you're at it!
9. Clean the leaves of your houseplants.
Houseplant leaves can be delicate, but they sure do look better when they are bright and shiny rather than dull and dusty!
- What to do: Pick a paintbrush that is the right size for the size of the leaves, and you will only have to do one stroke on each side of the leaf to clean the whole plant! You may want to spritz the plant with a spray bottle first, or you can dip the brush into a bit of warm water as needed.