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How to avoid getting your paintbrush clogged by masking fluid

Masking fluid is perfect for masking areas you wish not to touch when painting with watercolors. But if you don’t know how to use it it can give you more trouble than needed! Today I will show you how to avoid getting your paintbrush clogged by masking fluid. 

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How to avoid getting your paintbrush clogged by masking fluid

different kinds of masking fluid

What is masking fluid?

Masking fluid is a liquid you apply to your paper to protect a certain area from getting painted. It’s very popular with watercolor artists and a must-have if you want to leave certain areas untouched.

Different forms of masking fluid

Masking fluid pen

masking fluid pen

A masking fluid pen is a pen with a felt tip that is filled with masking liquid. You shake the pen, press the tip on the paper to ”load” the fluid and then draw with it. I rarely use it because you are limited to the pen size. It does come in handy when you need to mask out words or medium-sized shapes.

Masking fluid liquid

paintbrush clogged by masking fluid

You use liquid masking fluid with a brush. You simply dip your brush into the fluid and then paint straight on paper. The downside is that masking fluid dries up to a rubbery substance. It’s similar to dried up glue. Once the masking fluid dries up it clogs up the bristles of your paintbrush and damage them. The benefits of using masking fluid outweigh the fact that it ruins your (old) brushes. But still, I was tired of throwing them out so…. I came up with a solution.

How to avoid getting your paintbrush clogged by masking fluid

Okay, when doing research for this article I found out others have been doing this as well. So my bright idea wasn’t necessarily that bright :’) Anyway:

The solution to avoiding clogged paint brushes by masking fluid is to use rubber brushes!

rubberpaint brushes

Yes, these are a thing. I think sculptors and nail artists use these a lot. I bought my silicone rubber paint brushes here.

They come in a few different shapes and they work great! Once you’re done you just let the fluid dry and then you can easily peel it off. They’re also not expensive at all! 

sillicone paint brushes

How to remove masking fluid from paper

You can easily remove masking fluid by peeling it off the paper. Don’t yank it off though, do it carefully. If you work on cheaper paper it might rip. Test it out before you use it on a project! Simply rub your finger over the edge of the dried-up fluid. This will lift the dried-up fluid which you can then pull off. Make sure to have clean and dry hands. Oils on your fingers can taint the paper. 


Just note that the paper needs to be completely dry, otherwise it might rip.

how to use masking fluid

How to remove stubborn masking fluid from watercolor paper

Sometimes there are little bits and pieces of masking fluid stuck on your paper. When they are hard to grab on to, rub your kneadable eraser over the dried-up area. Then it should come off easily. A rubber cement remover tool does the job as well. Always be careful since watercolor paper is delicate.  

How to remove dried up masking fluid from your brushes

We’ve all had masking fluid stuck in our brushes at one point. Rub some Vaseline on your brushes to get all of the dried-up masking fluid out. You can let it sit for a few minutes and then wash it how you usually do!

Masking fluid alternatives

So, what if you don’t have masking fluid? Depending on the medium, you can use paper. If you work with acrylics you can simply put a piece of paper on your canvas and paint over it. It will protect the area. This does not work with watercolors though! You’ll need something waterproof, like painter’s tape (or good quality washi tape). Make sure your painter’s tape is waterproof or it won’t work with watercolors (trust me, been there done that!). Non-waterproof painter’s tape will work with drier paints like gouache and acrylics.

Winsor and Newton masking fluid

My go-to brand for masking fluid is Winsor And Newton. They have an excellent range! I have the Winsor & Newton Masking Fluid 75 ml bottle which I use for all of my projects involving masking fluid. It is tainted yellow so you can easily spot it on your paper.

winsor and newton masking fluid

3 tips for using masking fluid

Make sure to apply your masking fluid thickly. If it’s too thin it’s harder to pull of the paper. You’ll have to really rub down on your paper which will ruin it and little bits and pieces will stay behind.

Don’t leave your masking fluid on for too long. The maximum time is about 24-48 hours (depending on the brand) after that it will be a lot harder to remove.

Never ever remove masking fluid from damp paper! This will totally rip it. It’s better to wait a few extra minutes just to be sure everything is dry.

I hope you now know how to avoid getting your paintbrush clogged by masking fluid and learnt some handy dandy tips along the way :) Happy painting!


See you next week,


♡ Laura

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