Tip for cleaning old Latex brushes

I used my Latex brush for Zinsser's BIN Primer/Sealer which suggest either Ammonia (50:50 with water) or alcahol for cleanup.
I didn't have any ammonia so I used undiluted Fantastic which seems to work well too (perhaps even better than ammonia).
In any case, I noticed that the Amonia/Fantastic not only cleaned out the primer but also softened up years worth of caked on Latex paint. After several hours of additional soaking and intermittent combing with a brush comb, my old brush was restored to like-new condition.
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The reason manufacturers recommend alcohol or STRAIGHT undiluted ammonia (not Grandma Sudsy's from the grocery store) is because they don't contain detergents or surfectants.
I have no doubt that Fantastic did a good job on your brushes. I read an article in one of my old remodeler's magazines about what cleaning chemicals were safe to use for job site cleanup. Over and above almost all the nasty stuff from the commercial supply houses like ZEP and their ilk was..... 409!
They even found that 409 could pit aluminum with repeated or prolonged exposure. The point is that many chemical cleaners that have been around for years that we take for granted are quite strong.
You have one more step. Fantastic will leave behind a surfectant of some sort, engineered to wash the grime away after it is loose. It can easily foul your next brushing attempt as it will come off while you use the brush. Since the old paint/finish/sealer on the brush is now gone, you can clean the surfectants left behind off the brush with regular household alcohol. Give it a good rinse, and the few minutes you need to do it can save you hours of possible grief.
Robert
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MUCH easier to clean a brush after caking up and drying 5 years....</ sarcasm> I pay good money for good brushes (especially my french, round sash brushes) So when they get put away, they're clean...and I mean clean. For dirty rotten primer jobs, I buy brushes by the six/twelve pack and dispose.
Funny observation, I really like painting, but it is awful hard to find the will to get started.
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Even though I do a fair amount of it, sometimes I just don't want to. Like you, I have some dough in my brushes, and have literally had a couple of favorites for about 7 - 8 years now. They are indeed spotless when put up, and they go back into their respective covers to maintain shape.
And speaking of cheap brushes - went to HF today and bought some fairly nice full sized latex brushes on sale for .99 cents! (OK, they are pretty crappy, actually....)
But they are for a Hardie plank repair I did. I will coat once, throw the brush away, and second coat, and throw that one away as well. I wouldn't ever use one of my good brushes on siding of any type!
Robert
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they are pretty crappy, actually....) ------------------------------------- Working with epoxy, EVERY brush is disposable.
2" chip brushes are the standard, $0.25 each is/was the price.
They even do a pretty good job on 1# shellac.
Lew
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The only problem I had with the cheap chip brushes and expoxy is that somehow the epoxy loosened up the bristles causing me to have to fish them out of the epoxy clear coat finish... wasn't pleasant...
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Not surprised. Fantastic is a strong cleaner. So is 409.
Recently, during a conversation with a fellow woodcarver, he told me a professional painter friend of his recommended using transmission fluid to clean brushes. Anyone ever hear of or try this?
`Casper
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I've been using TSP for years, and more recently have tried Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, to clean latex from nylon brushes. Left to soak both work well. The TSP works so well that I've use it to strip paint from things like hinges and pulls in a kitchen clean-up and paint project (they had been painted over).
Bristle brushes are a different story... not for latex anyway.
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blueman wrote:

Don't know about "old," but a dose of off-the-shelf fabric softener in a bucket of water works wonders on latex paint.
Paint brush "spinners" also simplify the cleaning job.
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On 12/3/2011 7:40 AM, HeyBub wrote:

Yes, and save on solvents for oil based paints.
Anyone that paints with a brush should have a spinner...
--
Jack
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For brush cleaning, you don't need clean solvent except for the final rinse. Recycle old thinner. Let the crud settle out and save the liquid. Saves you money and keeps a pollutant out of the landfill.
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That's good info, I would recommend any shellac based product be applied with a natural bristle, I think it lays it down better.
On 12/2/2011 1:25 PM, blueman wrote:

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