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You got everything nicely prepared, you went in and painted everything like a pro, the finish looks wonderful - it's clean-up time! Without proper clean-up, you will leave behind a mess and you could totally ruin those expensive paint brushes you invested in.

When cleaning up drop cloths, make sure to always fold to the inside. If there is any paint still wet on them, you don't want to accidentally smear it on the floor or on a piece of furniture. Likewise, if there are paint chips or dust on the drop cloths, you don't want to spill them everywhere. If this is the case, fold the drop cloths neatly, then take them outside. If there's just dust in them or just a few chips, you can open them up, close your eyes and shake them out. If they contain loads of paint chips, spread some lightweight plastic on the ground, dump out the chips, fold the plastic up neatly, and throw it away. Then you can shake out the drop cloths. Always be sure to shake them out after a project. Don't tell yourself you'll do it before the next one, or you will forget about it, and make a mess the next time you go to use one.

If you were painting out of a bucket, pour the remaining paint back into the paint can. Use your brush to help you sweep out the last of the paint. If you are using latex paint, you can wash the bucket out with water and dump out the water. If you are using alkyd paint however, this can be a dangerous health and environmental hazard. If this is the case, you will just have to get as much paint as possible back into the can, and let the rest of it dry in the bucket. Also, if you have left over alkyd paint in the can that you don't want, you can't just throw it out. Take it to the nearest toxic waste facility and they will dispose of it properly for you. However, if there is only a little left over, you can let it dry and then throw it out normally.

The next step is to clean out your brushes. Cleaning out your brushes is very important, because if you don't they will be completely ruined. This is why it's important to keep your bristles submerged in the paint if you go off somewhere or take a break or something. Don't leave the brush laying across the bucket or laying out anywhere for that matter, or the paint will dry in the bristles, and no amount of cleaning in the world will help. You don't want to have to throw away an $80 dollar brush after just one use. So always keep the brush wet, and clean it immediately after you're done. To do this, you will need a wire brush.

When using latex paint:
Use an outside spicket or a utility sink and run water over the brush. As you do, squeeze the bristles. This will get most of the excess paint off, but you still need to get deep inside the bristles to get all the paint out. This is where the wire brush comes in. Scrub the bristles with the wire brush, scrubbing in the same direction as the bristles. Go around the whole brush, including the sides. Then stick the brush back under the water and squeeze again. Repeat this process a few times.

House Painting Tips

House Painting Tips

When using oil base paint:
Oil base paint is much trickier to clean up because you have to use mineral spirits to clean it - water won't work. Plus, you can't dump oil base paint or mineral spirits into the ground or down any kind of drain, because it is an environmental hazard and can wreak havoc on your drainage system. So you need to use an old paint can or any other kind of receptacle that you don't need, and clean your brush out over that. Pour the mineral spirits onto the brush and make sure it drips into the can. Squeeze the bristles tight and get as much paint out as you can that way, pouring more spirits as is necessary. Then scrub the bristles with the wire brush, pouring spirits on the bristles periodically. Continue doing this until the brush is clean. If there is any paint still on your hands, use the spirits to clean your hands. Make sure to rinse the spirits off with water immediately after, because they are very toxic and you don't want to accidentally get some in your eyes or mouth. Also, make sure you do this outside or in a well-ventilated area, as the fumes of the mineral spirits are toxic as well. Now seal the can of dirty spirits. If there is room left in the can, you can save it and use it for a future clean-up. If you want to get rid of it, you can't simply throw it out. Take it to the nearest toxic waste facility and they will dispose of it properly for you.

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