How to Clean Kilz off Brush? Step-by-step Guides

How to Clean Kilz off Brush

Let’s dive into this crucial, often overlooked aspect of DIY projects – cleaning Kilz off your brushes. As an avid DIY enthusiast or a professional painter, you know that getting your hands dirty is part of the job. But let’s face it; there’s something less than appealing about discovering your favorite paintbrush hardened and ruined by residual Kilz. 

This all-too-common scenario underscores the importance of learning how to clean Kilz off your brush correctly, effectively extending the life of your tools and ensuring your next masterpiece is blemish-free. So, without further ado, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of keeping your brushes in pristine condition.

The Importance of Cleaning Brushes:

Well, it’s time we talked about why cleaning brushes matter. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of this seemingly mundane task. But, actually, regular brush cleaning, especially after using a heavy-duty primer like Kilz, plays a crucial role in your toolkit’s lifespan and performance.

First, when we leave Kilz or any paint to dry on our brushes, they can become rigid and unmanageable. A brush clogged with dried paint won’t apply fresh coats evenly or accurately, causing frustration and possibly spoiling your hard work.

Moreover, continuously replacing ruined brushes can be costly. Good quality brushes aren’t cheap, and they’re designed to last. So, when we take the time to clean them properly, we’re saving money and reducing waste – a win-win situation.

Finally, it’s about taking pride in your craft. Keeping your brushes in top shape shows respect for the art of painting and the tools that make it possible. This meticulous attention to detail separates the novices from the pros.

Preparation Before Cleaning:

Before we dive into the cleaning process, some prep work is in order. The right preparation can make cleaning Kilz off your brushes significantly easier and safer.

First and foremost, safety is key. You should wear gloves to protect your hands from potential skin irritations. Also, consider wearing old clothes. You wouldn’t mind getting a splash or two of paint or cleaner.

As for the cleaning space, choose a well-ventilated area to work in. This is because some cleaning solutions can release fumes that aren’t healthy to inhale in large amounts or for extended periods. An outdoor setting, like a yard or a balcony, could be your best bet. If that’s not an option, ensure you work in a room with open windows or good air circulation.

Now, gather your cleaning supplies. You’ll need a paint comb, a cleaning solution suitable for Kilz (a commercial brush cleaner or a DIY solution of dish soap and warm water), and a couple of old rags or paper towels.

Having a small bucket or bowl can also be handy. You can use it to hold the cleaning solution while you work. Just make sure it’s one you are okay with getting messy.

Lastly, a word of caution – be gentle with your brushes. They are more delicate than you might think. Excessive force can damage the bristles and affect your brush’s performance.

Step-By-Step Process to Clean Kilz Off a Brush:

Alright, you’ve got your gloves on, your supplies ready, and you’re in a well-ventilated space. So let’s get down to business – the step-by-step process of cleaning Kilz off your brush.

1. Removing Excess Paint:

Before you start with any cleaning solutions, it’s essential to eliminate as much excess Kilz from the brush as possible. Use a paint comb or your gloved fingers to gently squeeze out the Kilz from the base of the bristles towards the tip. Be careful not to pull on the bristles too hard, which can cause them to lose shape.

2. Applying the Cleaning Solution:

Pour your chosen cleaning solution into your bucket or bowl. Immerse the bristles in the solution, being careful not to soak the ferrule (the metal part that holds the strands) or handle. The cleaning solution can loosen the adhesive holding the bristles in place.

3. Scrubbing the Brush:

It’s time to work that solution into the bristles. Using your fingers, gently massage the cleaning solution into the brush bristles. Another option is to swish the brush around in your container. This helps to break up the Kilz particles and dislodge them from the bristles.

4. Rinsing and Repeating:

Once you’ve worked the solution into the bristles, rinse the brush under warm running water. You’ll need to repeat the scrubbing and rinsing process until the water runs clear from your brush. It may take several cycles, but patience is key here. Remember, we’re aiming for a thoroughly clean brush.

5. Drying the Brush: 

After rinsing all the cleaning solution out of the brush, gently squeeze it to remove excess water. Then, pat the bristles dry using a clean rag or paper towel. Avoid pulling on the bristles. Once you’ve removed as much water as possible, reshape the bristles with your fingers, and lay the brush flat to dry.

Pro Tips for Keeping Brushes Clean:

Indeed, maintaining a clean brush can make a world of difference in your painting tasks. And, honestly, there’s a sweet satisfaction in preserving your tools, right? With that said, here are some pro tips to keep your brushes clean and extend their lifespan.

1. Don’t Let Paint Dry on Your Brush:

Getting distracted and leaving your brush sitting out is easier. If you’re taking a break, wrap your brush in a plastic wrap or bag to prevent the Kilz from drying on the bristles.

2. Clean Brushes Immediately After Use:

The quicker you clean your brushes, the easier to get all the Kilz out. This is particularly crucial if you’re using oil-based Kilz. If left too long, it can be a real bear to clean.

3. Avoid Soaking Brushes:

 Leaving your brushes in water or a cleaning solution can damage the bristles and the handle. Try to clean your brushes as soon as you can and avoid the need for soaking.

4. Store Brushes Properly:

Once your brushes are clean and completely dry, store them flat or hanging up. Storing brushes upright can cause the bristles to deform over time.

5. Invest in Quality Brushes:

It’s worth investing in good-quality brushes. They not only perform better, but they’re also designed to withstand cleaning and last longer.


Keeping your brushes clean, especially after using a primer like Kilz, is more than just a best practice – it’s an essential step in your painting journey. Not only does it protect your investment in high-quality tools, but it also ensures your future projects shine with the level of professionalism they deserve. 

With proper preparation, careful cleaning, and an eye on maintenance, you’re on track to extend your brushes’ life significantly. So next time you wrap up a painting task, remember that a few extra minutes cleaning your brush could save you both time and money in the long run. After all, a clean brush is a happy brush!

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