Caring For Your Watercolor Brushes & Paints

Caring for your watercolor paints and brushes is essential for maintaining their quality and performance. By following a few simple rules, you can keep your paints and brushes in good condition and extend their lifespan. In this blog post, I will cover the basics of watercolor paint and brush care, including storage and cleaning.

Caring For Your Watercolor Brushes & Paints


Old paint can dry out too much, especially if it is not stored properly. If your paints have become too dry to use, you may be able to revive them by adding a small amount of water and stirring the paint until it reaches a workable consistency. However, it’s important to note that this may not always be successful, and it’s possible that the paint may have degraded beyond repair.

Watercolors have been known to last a surprisingly long time though.

Check out the video below.

I have a set of Winsor and Newton pans that are nearly forty years old and many of them are still perfectly useable, though several of them were as hard as rock and no amount of scrubbing with a wet brush was able to revive them.

What is Watercolor Paint Made of?

Watercolor paints are made up of several different ingredients. including pigments, binders, and water. Pigments are the colored particles that give watercolor paints their hue. Binders are used to hold the pigments together and give the paint its form. Water is used to thin the paint and make it easier to work with. Watercolor paints are generally considered to be a stable and long-lasting medium, but they can degrade over time if they are not stored properly or if they are exposed to extreme temperatures or moisture.

Watercolor paints generally come in tubes and pans. Tube paints are squeezed onto a palette or directly onto the paper. These are generally more concentrated.

Pans are usually solid blocks of color that must be must be wetted and activated before use. Pan paints are portable and are more suitable for working on location. Keep your paints in their original packaging. If you need to transfer your paints to a different container, choose one that is airtight and moisture-proof.

Store your paints in a cool, dry place. Watercolor is sensitive to heat and moisture, and they can dry out or spoil if exposed to the air for a longe period of time. Never store your paints in direct sunlight or in a damp location, choose a place that’s cool and dry, such as a closet or cabinet, this will protect them and help to, extend their lifespan.

Whether you prefer tube paints or pan paints, there are options available to suit your needs and preferences. With proper care and handling, your watercolor paints can last for years.

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Brush Care


Always store your brushes in a upright position. This will help to prevent the bristles from becoming misshapen or from shedding hair and bristles. You can use a brush holder or a jar with a wide opening to keep your brushes upright and protected.


Cleaning your watercolor brushes is essential to maintain their performance and extend their lifespan.

Clean your brushes thoroughly after each use. Once you have finished painting, use warm water and soap to remove all of the paint from your brushes. Gently lather the bristles with soap and then rinse them thoroughly under running water. Repeat this process until the water runs clear and all of the paint has been removed.

Caring For Your Watercolor Brushes & Paints -Washing

Reshape the bristles and let the brushes dry completely. Once you have cleaned your brushes, gently reshape the bristles and lay the brushes flat to dry. Avoid hanging your brushes by the bristles, as this can cause them to become misshapen. I gently roll the brush ferrule against a paper towel as pigment tends to collect there.

Caring For Your Watercolor Brushes & Paints - Drying

Avoid using harsh chemicals on your brushes. Many household cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can damage the bristles. Avoid using these products and opt for a mild soap or brush cleaner instead.

Protect your brushes when not in use. Consider storing them in a protective sleeve or cover. This will help to keep the bristles clean and prevent them from becoming damaged and misshapen.

Never leave brushes with bristles facing down in a jar of water as they will quickly become bent out of shape.

By following these tips for storing, cleaning, and conditioning your watercolor paints and brushes, you can keep your supplies in good condition and enjoy them for years to come.

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