Clean your brushes fast with your power drill

Small paint brushes and makeup brushes get clean in a snap with this tip.

Alina Bradford
1 of 13 Alina Bradford/CNET

If you need to clean makeup brushes or paint brushes, this tutorial is for you. This cool and easy way works even if the brushes are dry and crusty. All you need is a makeup sponge, a cordless drill brush cleaning solution or dishwashing liquid and a container.

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Choose your container wisely

This brush cleaning technique is fun and thorough, but it can be a bit messy. I like using a bottle or flower vase that has a neck to prevent splatters.

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Add cleanser

To clean non-crusty brushes, fill up your container with warm water up to the neck. Then add your cleanser.

For paint brushes, I like to use a few drops of concentrated dish soap like Dawn or Palmolive. For makeup brushes, use a cleanser that is specifically for brush makeup removal.

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Protect your brush

Next, fold your your makeup sponge over the end of your brush.

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Here's why they need protection

If you don't protect your brush with the sponge the drill can tear up the handle. This poor little brush got washed without protection.

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Insert brush

Then, insert the brush into the area where the drill bit usually goes and tighten the drill around the brush.

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Let the drill do the hard work

Insert the bristles of the brush into the cleaning solution and start up the drill. Let the brush spin for around 10 seconds, then slightly raise it above water level without taking it out of the container. This will help flush particles from the brush's inner fibers.

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Shape the brush

Rinse the brush with clean, warm water and use your fingertips to shape the bristles. Then, just let the brush air dry.

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What to do with dry crusty brushes

I promised I'd show you how to clean brushes that are crusted with dried paint, so grab those brushes. All you need is white or apple cider vinegar, a food thermometer and a pot.

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Heat the vinegar

Heat the vinegar to just below boiling, or just below 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit). If you don't have a thermometer, heat the vinegar until steam floods out, but it hasn't quite started boiling.

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Soak dried brushes

Take the pot off the heat and let your brushes soak in the vinegar for around 30 minutes.

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Cleaning the dried brush

Then, rub the bristles a little with your fingers and wash it using your drill. You'll see the dried paint fly off into the water. It's very satisfying.

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Before and after

Luckily, I had some dried up brushes from a mural I painted last month. The brush on the right is before the vinegar soak and drill cleaning. The one on the left is the after. The soaked brush is soft and flexible again. The unsoaked brush is hard as a rock.

Protip: You may need to go through the soaking process a couple times if your brush is really encrusted.

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