Paintbrushes: Synthetic brushes (recommended for water-based paint) are easy—just rinse each brush in hot water, squeezing the bristles with your hand until the water runs clear. For a natural-bristle brush (used for oil-based paint), take a deep breath: Fill a small metal container, like a coffee can, with mineral spirits (sold at hardware stores) and swish the brush around; let sit for 5 minutes. Then wrap the brush in newspaper and squeeze to release excess paint; repeat a few times. Dip in a fresh container of mineral spirits to rinse. Then gently roll the brush between your hands a few times to dry, using paper towels to press out any remaining moisture. Mold the bristles back into place and slip the brush into its package or tuck it into folded newspaper to maintain the shape. To keep brushes pliable, soak them for a few minutes in a coffee can filled with water plus a drop of liquid fabric softener; rinse, dry completely with paper towels, and store as usual.
Pillows: Twice a year, wash down and synthetic pillows in the washing machine (in pairs, to keep the machine balanced) with mild liquid detergent. (Powder can leave residue.) Dry on low instead of high heat, which can cause clumping.