Most of what I use for painting is gouache and watercolor paints. But, other times I have to use gesso as a base coat or acrylic for a top layer. These mediums can get dry and hard on the bristles of my brushes if I don't clean them right away. So over the years, I've found the best way to clean my brushes like brand new. It's simple and easy and I'll share it with you!
I like to wait until I have a few brushes that need to be cleaned so that I can get them all washed in one go. Paper cups, jars or old plastic cups you only use for paints are great for cleaning brushes in. All you'll need is water and few drops of Murphy Oil Soap cleaner. THAT'S IT!
First, take the Murphy Oil Soap and put about a dime size or less in a cup. Depending on how many brushes you'll be cleaning, you could need more, but you never need too much. Then, pour room temperature water into the cup. I just pour enough water so that the bristles of the brushes are covered. If water covers any further than the ferrule, or the metal part of your brushes, over time you could damage the handle. I use different cups for different sized brushes if they can't all fit in the same level of water.
Once the brushes are in the water, I stir it up a bit with the brushes so that the soap gets in between the bristles. I usually leave the brushes in the mixture over night so that they can soak completely in the soap. The next day, I take my brushes out and rinse them off in the sink with room temperature water again, dry them with a paper towel and voila! They're soft and clean again. Brushes that really have paint stuck in them I might need to pick off the paint or let them soak a second time in a fresh batch of water and Murphy Oil Soap.
I've found that this process is really easy and less damaging for the bristles on my brushes compared to other solvents such as turpenoid which dries and damages bristles after multiple uses. It works great for any size brush too.
I hope you found this post useful and let me know what you think if you try it out or have your own method of cleaning brushes!