Image of someone holding a Grove caddy with art supplies.

Cleaning and organizing art supplies.

Last Updated: December 15, 2021

Art supplies are an expensive investment, so it's wise to manage and maintain them carefully. Keep supplies organized so you can find everything easily.

Correct storage will also lengthen the useful lifespan of your tools and supplies. Knowing how to clean paintbrushes is crucial, too, so they will last and be ready to use for every art project.

Keep reading for some quick tips on cleaning and organizing all of your art supplies plus some helpful resources for more in depth questions.

Cleaning paint brushes

When you finish painting, always clean paint brushes immediately. Never allow paint to dry on your brushes, as this can damage the bristles.

Fast and thorough cleaning ensures that the brushes will be fresh and clean the next time you want to use them.

Here are 11 steps to properly clean a paint brush:

  1. Wrap a paint brush in paper towels or an old rag and squeeze firmly to remove as much excess paint as possible.
  2. Submerge the brush in a cup of clean water.
  3. Repeat the first two steps until most of the paint is removed.
  4. Place a small bucket over the drain in the sink to prevent paint from going down the drain.
  5. Turn the faucet on to a small stream of lukewarm water. Hold the brush under the water and squeeze the bristles gently with your fingers to clean them.
  6. Apply a small amount of regular hand soap to the bristles. Work the soap into a lather.
  7. Rinse the soap from the bristles.
  8. Examine the brush to see if it's clean. If you still see paint, apply more hand soap, lather, and rinse again.
  9. When the bristles are completely clean, shake the brush to remove as much water as possible.
  10. Wrap the paint brush in paper towels or a clean rag and squeeze out as much of the water as you can.
  11. Place the paint brush horizontally on a rack and allow it to dry completely.

Organizing and storing art supplies

A clean and organized art studio has several benefits. When everything has a storage spot, you'll be able to find your supplies quickly and easily.

Storing supplies and equipment properly makes items last longer, too. Many artists find it easier to work in an organized environment, and you may find that you're more creative and imaginative when you work in a tidy space.

Here are 8 tips to start organizing your art supplies for a cleaner more creative space:

  • Take an inventory of your supplies and equipment regularly. Sell or donate items you don't use.
  • Use containers or caddies for your painting, drawing, and writing implements. Mason jars or glass jars with lids are ideal for holding paint brushes and pencils. Metal canisters are also inexpensive and readily available. Sort items and store them separately so you can find things easily.
  • Create a spot to store works in progress so you can clear your work surface daily. Shelves are ideal for two-dimensional art, and bins are often perfect for three-dimensional projects.
  • Use vertical storage whenever possible. Shelves and racks up to the ceiling will greatly expand your storage space. Place bins on shelves to keep items neat. Pegboards are also useful.
  • Install curtain rods or towel rods for hanging storage. Hang buckets or caddies from the rods to hold small items.
  • Use an over-the-door organizer with pockets to hold small items like paint tubes and glue sticks.
  • Label every bin, box, and bucket so you'll know the contents of every container without having to open them.
  • Maintain your art space every day. Put items away after you use them. Store works in progress in the designated spot. And keep your work surface clean so it's easy to start creating next time.

Read more from Grove.