Converting A Power Toothbrush Into A Paintbrush Cleaner

Cleaning paintbrushes can be a pain, especially if you don't want to get paint all over your hands. And automatic paintbrush cleaners can be pricey. However, you can easily convert a power toothbrush into a simple paintbrush cleaner with little or no effort.

Wait, You Can Clean With Power Toothbrushes?

Absolutely! After all, you're cleaning your teeth with one: why not convert an old one into a specialized cleaning tool? In fact, people often suggest using a power toothbrush as a spot cleaner in the bathroom, as the bristles are strong enough to handle anti-bacterial soaps and micro-abrasive bathroom cleaners.

You can use any power toothbrush for this new tool, as long as it is powered and its bristles are in good condition. Dentists suggest changing your toothbrush or power toothbrush head every three months or when the bristles are frayed. While that applies specifically to your teeth, it's still a good guide for this tool.

Choosing Cleaning Chemicals

There are a multitude of paintbrush cleaning solutions that should work with your toothbrush. Most of these are available in craft shops, but you can also buy more pure solutions for a more thorough cleaning job. Typical paint cleaning solutions include:

  • Methylene chloride
  • Toluene methanol
  • Acetone
  • N-Methylpyrrolidone
  • Methanol
  • Toluene

Caustic cleaners should probably be avoided, as you will be cleaning brushes with your hands. Caustics are generally more useful when removing paint from metal surfaces and are designed for very tough paint stains – not paintbrushes.

Cleaning Process

Start by putting on a pair of safety gloves to keep your hands free from the paint remover. While most cleaners aren't too caustic, it's better to be safe than sorry. A pair of disposable gloves should be good against most cleaners, although fabric or leather gloves may be appropriate if you plan on painting and cleaning your brushes regularly.

Now, pour your cleaning substance into a bowl, set the bowl on a table near your workplace, and set a five-gallon bucket on the ground near the bowl. Hold your paintbrush over the bucket and dip the tip of your powered toothbrush in the cleaning material.

Turn on your toothbrush and rub the tip up against the paint on the brush. The paint should start breaking up quickly. Continually move the tip across the paint until the bulk of it has fallen off into the bucket. When necessary, add more cleaning solution to the toothbrush tip.

Here's where the toothbrush is really handy: cleaning individual strands on the paintbrush. Carefully pull apart several strands and look for hard-to-scrub areas of paint. Wash it off with the toothbrush until nothing is left on the strands. When you're finished, run water over your toothbrush and paintbrush to remove the paint remover: a hose running into the bucket probably works best for this step.