It’s a common misconception that you always need paint thinner to clean your paint tools after using them. Sure, sometimes you do need thinner or reducer. But there are also times that you absolutely can, and should, just use water. It’s all in the type of paint product you used—whether water-based or solvent-based.

Before anything else, here’s a quick refresher on the difference between water-based and solvent-based paints.

Water-Based Vs. Solvent-Based

Painter’s Tip: You Don’t Always Need Thinner to Clean Brushes and Rollers | MyBoysenPainter’s Tip: You Don’t Always Need Thinner to Clean Brushes and Rollers | MyBoysen

Some paints are water-based and some are solvent-based. A lot of the Boysen paint products you will get will be one of these two. As in the name, these paint products have either water as their base or solvent as their base.

Each type has its own merits. For example, water-based paints do not have that strong chemical smell that you usually get with solvent-based paints. On the other hand, solvent-based paints are typically more durable. This is why the former is commonly preferred when painting interiors such as room walls and the latter for exteriors and high-touch surfaces like wooden cabinets and metal gates.

Using Water, Thinner, or Reducer for Cleaning

Painter’s Tip: You Don’t Always Need Thinner to Clean Brushes and Rollers | MyBoysen

When you’re working with water-based paints, all you need to clean up messes, spills, drips, and your tools is plain water. It gets just a bit more complicated with solvent-based paints. Some will require paint thinner while others will need a more specific product.

The easiest way to check what you need to use for cleanup is to look it up! Where do you look it up then? For Boysen paints, you can find the information sheet of each product on the Boysen website ( or in the Boysen App.

So, for example, when using Boysen Acrytex, the information sheet shown on the Boysen website will tell you to use Boysen Acrytex Reducer. You’ll find this specified under “Clean-up Solvent.” In the app, search for your product then tap on “Technical Data” to see the clean-up solvent. And, yes, if you have a water-based paint product, it will just say “Water.” Easy!

Make Your Tools Last LongerPainter’s Tip: You Don’t Always Need Thinner to Clean Brushes and Rollers | MyBoysen

Doing a poor job of washing your paint tools—or worse, not washing them at all—is a surefire way of making them unusable for your next project. Hardened and dried paint on your tools will definitely affect the quality of your paint job too. Make the most out of your tools and make them last as long as possible by caring for your brushes and rollers properly.

Here’s a quick step-by-step to cleaning your brushes and rollers:

  • First, remove as much paint left on your tools as you can. Gently scrape, press, or squeeze to remove the excess. Roll or brush off whatever remains on scrap cardboard or newspaper.
  • Clean your tools in the appropriate solvent as thoroughly as you can making sure to get anything stuck in between bristles or in the nap.
  • Once your tool is sufficiently clean and paint-free, shake off or squeeze the excess solvent and leave it to dry.

Find more tips on how to care for your paint tools here. Happy painting!

If you have any questions or inquiries about Boysen products, our technical team will be happy to assist you. Send an email to or call (02) 8363-9738 local 413 to 418 during office hours for a one-on-one consultation.


Jill is a writer on a continuous journey to learn about paint and share them with you, the reader. She has an interest in the technical side of things but also thoroughly enjoys playing with colors. She likes calm greens, quiet blues, and mellow yellows best.

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