Service Announcement About Waterbrushes

11:40 AM

Imagine my surprise when I happened to glance at my waterbrush the other day and saw all these black floaty things INSIDE the barrel of the brush! Yuck!

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I usually wear the point off from the brush tip long before I get gunk in the barrel of a waterbrush. This brush has a very small tip that is used for detailing and I don't use it often. That may be the reason why I have the yucky stuff in the barrel.

Besides not wanting to contaminate my paper or paints with mold, this kind of trash will also plug up a waterbrush, rendering it useless because the water can't flow through to the tip.
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I used a chenille stem, folded in half and twisted, to get down into the barrel and scrub out some of the sticky offending black spots. I didn't use any soap as I didn't need it to remove the gunk. If you choose to use soap, please make sure to use something like dish soap that doesn't have oils and moisturizers in it. (Oil and watercolor don't mix well and the soap could leave a residue!)
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No more nasties! I'll keep an eye on this brush to make sure that all the gunk has been removed. If it comes back, I'll rinse just the barrel with a very, very weak water and bleach solution, dry it out thoroughly and then refill it. (Don't get bleach on the bristles!)

I'm not so concerned this will ruin the brush, even though it could, as I'm concerned I could contaminate my paper and paints. I'd had to find mold growing in a sketchbook sometime down the road!

Check your brushes!

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18 Creative Thought(s)

  1. I will check my brushes. Thanks for the heads up. Instead of using bleach on the brushes maybe using white vinegar. It will kill the mold and wouldn't be as hard on the bristles. If you let it soak in the vinegar you wouldn't even need to scrub. I use this on hummingbird feeders and it works. No more black mould.

  2. You're so resourceful, Laure ... the Martha Stewart of Watercolor!

  3. Thanks for the tip....I'll be checking my brushes now :)

  4. I better check out my brush. I think I left the water in it.

  5. What does the bleach do to the bristles? I would think the mold would be there too. I've checked mine on occasion and not seen anything growing but will give them more than a glance now!

  6. Oooh, yuck! I've left water in brushes a long time - I'll go check them. Thanks for the heads up.

  7. ....eeek! I'll be on the look-out! Thanks for posting a solution...

  8. Oh, oh. I've soaked the whole brush tip in a week bleach solution - our water here is SC produces lots of mold and the dark area of the brush top get clogged with mold. After soaking, I've rinsed the bristles real well as well as forcefully squeeze lots of water from the barrel through the brush head once it's been reassembled. I refill the barrel again and rinse the brush head one more time this way.

    Now, I'm sure to use purified water in my brushes and have had no mold issues. No more distilled water since you mentioned that it's not good for watercolors.

    Do you think you really can't get the bleach out? It would be a sad, sad thing to lose journal pages to bleach contamination.

  9. Excellent idea, Lisa, to use vinegar instead.

    Martha? Really, T? LOL!!

    Glad to help, Ann.

    Better safe than sorry, Cris, I have to say, I was a bit surprised!

    Timaree, I had a waterbrush that I "bleached" four or five years ago. Not to long after the bristles started to curl in different directions and get brittle. I basically trashed the brush. Since then I don't use bleach on the bristles. I think Lisa's idea of vinegar is a far better idea, but I would be cautious with that too!

    Glad to help, Cheryl.

    You're welcome, Elva!

    You're welcome, Kelly!

    Pam, you may not have the same issue I did. My bristles went curly and ragged, and then they started to get brittle. Ruined the brush.

    Since many papers fibers are bleached to make them bright white, I wouldn't think the little from your brush would hurt it. However, I'd be very cautious as we just don't know.

  10. I must have missed something. Distilled water isn't good for the watercolors? I was just going to say that another artist told me to always use distilled water in the water brushes to keep them from getting moldy. Guess, I shouldn't do that? Please tell me, Laure.

  11. Ewww... who knew the seedy underside of the waterbrush? Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Laure!

  12. Hmmm...could you soak it in white vinegar? That might help, too, to keep the mold from forming? I use that on lots of things, and it seems to help.

  13. Hi, Kay, distilled water kills the granulating properties of watercolor paint or at the very least, mutes them. If you happen to like that about watercolor paints, then it is bet to use purified water. If you don't like your paints to granulate, use the distilled water. It doesn't completely stop it, but it definitely mutes the look!

    No problem, Krista!

    Sue, I think that might be a better solution than the bleach. The acid of the vinegar would work well, I'm sure.

  14. Where did you get the yellow brush with the small brush tip? I really like it and would like to get one.

  15. Hi, Jeanne, this is a detail brush made by Kuretake. I purchased this at Joann's in the stamp section. I have also seen them at Michael's. If you don't find them there, they're available through

  16. Oh my gosh! Now I'll check all my waterbrushes, for sure. Never saw this happening before.
    Crazy stuff!
    Thanks for sharing this, Laure!


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