How to Clean Your Brushes Like a Pro

I’m a pretty messy person.  There are shoes hiding all over my apartment, bobby pins in every place imaginable, and don’t get me started on the clothes covering my floor.  That being said, there are some things I’m really serious about keeping clean.  Besides my spotless car (an OCD tendency I inherited from my dad), my makeup brushes are the cleanest things I own.

Cleaning your brushes regularly can help you achieve clearer skin, smoother makeup application, and a longer brush life. It’s easy to overlook cleaning your makeup brushes because it’s not an obvious problem. However, your brushes can be full of dirt, old makeup, oil, and acne-causing bacteria. Ew.

I’d recommend washing your makeup brushes at least twice a month. I typically do it every 5-7 days. It’s most important for foundation and concealer brushes, since eye shadow brushes don’t collect nearly as much product. There’s plenty of conflicting advice on the Internet about how to wash them, but here’s what you should know.

  1. Wash your brushes at night

    Makeup brushes can take hours to dry, especially ones with tightly packed bristles. Because of this, you should wash your brushes at night so that they’re dry when you need them in the morning.


  2. Choose the right soap

    When it comes to what soap or cleaner you want to use, the options are endless—hand soap, bar soap, shampoo, and even specially made makeup brush shampoo. So which one should you use? There’s not one right answer, but make sure it’s a mild formula, meaning things like dish soaps are out of the question. If you’re acne prone, try to avoid any soaps with synthetic fragrances since these can leave a film on your skin and clog your pores. I use Dr. Bronners unscented castile soap. It’s an organic, sulfate-free soap that’s olive-oil based. Remember middle school science class where you learned “like dissolves like”? The olive oil in the soap dissolves built up oils and dirt like no ones business. Three cheers for Dr. Bronner.


  3. Use cold or room temperature water

    On the first day of my college painting class, my professor did a demo on proper paint brush care. The number one rule is to never use hot water. This applies to makeup brushes too. While it can be tempting, warm water can actually dissolve the glue that holds the bristles in place and the metal attachment to the brush handle. You know that one annoying makeup brush that always leaves bristles on your face? Yeah. Now you know why.


  4. Scrub gently

    You don’t need to scrub vigorously when cleaning your makeup brushes. Let the soap do most of the work. Simply work the soap through the bristles and focus on massaging and rinsing rather than scrubbing. One great tool I use is a rubber washboard egg I got on Amazon. You just sweep the brush gently back and forth over the grooves and it loosens the makeup and dirt.


  5. Sanitize

    If you suffer from acne, you may benefit from sanitizing your foundation brush or sponge. After washing the brush, I pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol on the bristles, work it through the brush, and immediately rinse it off. This will help kill any remaining bacteria. However, depending on the type of brush you use, it may damage the bristles, so try this with caution.


  6. Stand up to dry

    After washing, rub each brush gently on a towel to soak up as much excess water as possible. Stand up your brushes overnight while they dry. You can prop them up in a tall cup or brush holder. This helps the brush dry on all sides, instead of retaining water where the brush is lying down.

Do you have any other tricks for caring for your makeup brushes? Let me know in the comments below!


Wash-on wash-off,


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