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How to save water when cleaning your brushes

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We live in a dry country and we are all aware of the need to save water in everything that we do. When painting, how do we maintain our brushes while using the least amount of clean water?

Water saving cleaning system

This system is based on the use of two separate containers in which brushes, rollers and other equipment are first washed, and then rinsed. By rotating the containers, the solids in the paints are separated from the liquid, making it easier to dispose of each component separately. This system will work well for both water- and solvent-based paints.

Water-based paints

At the end of each job, wipe or squeeze excess paint onto any absorbent material such as old rags, newspapers or cardboard boxes. Allow whatever is used to dry and then dispose of it with your regular household waste.

Wash brushes and rollers in a 20 litre (or similar sized) container. Transfer the washed items to another similar container filled with water for a second rinse. Place lids on the containers and leave to stand overnight. In the morning, the paint solids in the first container will have settled to the bottom. The clear water from this container may now be poured onto any grassed or open area where it can be absorbed into the ground. However, avoid areas near rivers and lakes.

Now you are ready to dispose of the residual paint solids at the bottom of the first container. Scrape the sediment from the bottom of the container out onto absorbent material such as old rags, newspaper or cardboard boxes. Allow to dry, then place in a plastic bag and dispose of with the household waste or take directly to the nearest council landfill. If you have more painting to do, the second container can now be used for the first wash. Use this rotation system until the job is completed.

Solvent-based paints

Follow the same procedures for water-based paints when using solvent-based paints – just remember to use mineral turpentine or another paint solvent recommended by your local Jack’s Paint & Hardware specialist. Allow the first container to stand for at least 24 hours, as it will take this long for the paint solids to settle, and use a clear solvent above. Remember not to shake it up as this will disturb the paint solids which will have settled to the bottom of the container. Do not pour the clear solvent onto the ground – use it to top up the second container, or decant it and keep for future use.

Planning ahead

It’s a good idea to keep a container of “dirty” turpentine on hand for cleaning purposes. Kept in a secure container and in a safe place, you will be able to reuse the solvent time and time again.

Never pour leftover paint down the drain!

 

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