Coming clean about brush soap

//Coming clean about brush soap

Brush soap is not necessarily doing your brushes any favours. I’ll just leave that sentence hanging there for a moment to sink in. Brush cleaner and preserver on the other hand probably will, especially if you are using a natural bristle such as sable. Why am I telling you this? Quite simply because I see a lot of so called ‘brush soaps’ from gaming companies rather than art specialists which from my experience aren’t any better at removing paint than regular hand soap. In fact, they are possibly doing your natural hair brushes more harm than good as there’s a decent chance it’s additionally stripping out the natural oils which will result in them becoming brittle and breaking.

A good sable brush relies on its ability to snap back to a shaped point when painting and that performance comes from the hairs flexibility. Just like any natural hair it needs conditioning to help maintain that flexibility and replace the natural oils stripped out through constant swishing around in the water pot. Generally I’m immediately suspicious of anything that purports to be a ‘brush soap’ that doesn’t come from a reputed art supplier. Chances are regular hand soap and a little hair conditioner once in a while to recondition the bristles will serve just as effectively.

If you really want to extend the life and performance of your brushes however, I highly recommend getting yourself a tub of “The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver”, your brushes and your wallet will thank you for it. Artists have been relying on this stuff for decades and it’s not difficult to see why after the first couple of times you use it. It’s literally saved me a fortune in brush replacement costs over the years and I’m still using the same tiny 28oz pot I purchased several years ago. I have even restored brushes to operational use that I had considered written off.

Lately I’m seeing more gaming companies trying to get products into this space and I personally feel they should be treated with a healthy dose of scepticism. I’ve encountered small blocks of perfumed ‘brush’ soap from Games Workshop which looks (and smells) suspiciously like the courtesy packets of soap you find in many hotel bathrooms. I have tried the ‘Master Brush Soap’ from Games & Gears that came as part of their Kickstarter and found it to be anything but masterful. They even do a block in black now, although I’m not really sure why anyone would need black brush soap? Seems like style over substance to me. My advice is to stick with the stuff artists have been using for years to keep their brushes in top working order and you can’t go far wrong. Leave the soap next to the kitchen sink where it probably belongs.

Until next time, have a great week.


By |2017-09-13T12:29:22+00:00May 21st, 2014|Categories: News|Tags: , |6 Comments


  1. Tyler Provick May 21, 2014 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    I agree with the master’s brush soap. And for really tough jobs Winsor and Newtons makes a brush cleaner that will take dried paint off in seconds but is safe enough to pour down the taps. Be careful you don’t dip your brush past the metal ferrule or it’ll take the paint off the handle too.

    Finally, if you are really cheap like me and aren’t ready to replace your expensive brushes you can change your paint style to an impressionistic “painterly” style where a nice tip isn’t as important.

    • Carl Woodrow May 22, 2014 at 6:41 am - Reply

      I’ll have to try out the Windsor & Newton stuff, cheers. I thoughy you had entered your impressionistic phase because like me you were entering your ‘senior’ years mate 😉 I still like a fine tip to my brush, I just can’t wield it with the dexterity I used to!

      • Tyler Provick May 22, 2014 at 3:40 pm - Reply

        Well, to be honest, I’m really painting the way I am right now because my intention was to quickly paint up the contents of the Deadzone box. Unfortunately it hasn’t happened. When I paint it’s quick but I’ve been so busy elsewhere I haven’t painted. When I head back to Infinity I’ll probably get some new brushes.

  2. 40kterminatus May 21, 2014 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    I`ve been using the “The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver” for some time now and am a big fan of it.

  3. Major_Gilbear May 21, 2014 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    I agree; been using a small 5oz cake for years now, and I suspect that it will last me the rest on my life. Plus, it’s *really* good to my fancy brushes, and has prolonged their life considerably.

  4. Carl Woodrow May 22, 2014 at 6:51 am - Reply

    Thanks guys. In respect of “ones to avoid” have you experienced any you think don’t live up to their billing or worse actually harm your brushes? I mentioned two in the post that failed to impress, but have you encountered others?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: