How to Clean Makeup Brushes


Makeup brushes are essential tools for achieving flawless makeup application, but they can accumulate dirt, oil, and bacteria over time. Regularly cleaning your makeup brushes not only helps maintain their performance but also ensures better hygiene for your skin. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of cleaning your makeup brushes effectively.


When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes? If you can't recall, it's probably time to give them some much-needed attention. Cleaning your brushes should be a regular part of your beauty routine, as it helps prevent the buildup of product residue, oils, and bacteria that can lead to breakouts and skin irritation.

Why Cleaning Makeup Brushes Is Important

Cleaning your makeup brushes serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it removes any leftover makeup residue, ensuring that your brushes apply makeup smoothly and precisely. Secondly, it helps to eliminate the accumulation of oils, dead skin cells, and bacteria that can harbor on the bristles. By regularly cleaning your brushes, you reduce the risk of transferring these impurities back onto your skin, which can lead to clogged pores and blemishes.

Gathering the Necessary Supplies

Before we delve into the cleaning process, gather the following supplies:

  1. Gentle brush cleaner or mild soap
  2. Clean towel or paper towels
  3. Bowl or sink filled with lukewarm water
  4. Brush cleaning mat or silicone glove (optional)
  5. Brush drying rack or clean, flat surface

Step 1: Wetting the Brush

Begin by running the bristles of your makeup brush under lukewarm water. Make sure to avoid wetting the handle of the brush, as this can damage the glue that holds the bristles in place. Gently massage the bristles with your fingers to remove any surface-level makeup residue.

Step 2: Applying Brush Cleaner or Mild Soap

Next, apply a small amount of gentle brush cleaner or mild soap onto your palm or a brush cleaning mat. Swirl the damp brush in the cleanser, working it into a lather. If using a cleaning mat, gently rub the bristles against the textured surface to ensure thorough cleaning.

Step 3: Gently Lathering the Bristles

With the cleanser or soap on the bristles, use your fingers to work the lather through the brush, focusing on the bristle tips. Be gentle to avoid damaging the bristles or altering their shape. Continue lathering until the water runs clear, indicating that the brush is clean.

Step 4: Rinsing the Brushes

Rinse the brush under lukewarm water, again avoiding wetting the handle. Gently squeeze the bristles from the base to the tips to remove any remaining soap or cleanser residue. Repeat this process until the water runs clear, ensuring that all traces of product and cleanser are removed.

Step 5: Removing Excess Water and Reshaping the Bristles

After rinsing, gently squeeze out the excess water from the bristles with your fingers. Take care not to pull or tug on the bristles forcefully. Once most of the water is removed, reshape the bristles using your fingers, ensuring they are aligned and in their original shape.

Step 6: Drying the Brushes

Lay the brushes flat on a clean towel or paper towels to dry. Alternatively, use a brush drying rack to keep them upright, allowing proper airflow. Avoid standing the brushes upright while the bristles are still wet, as this can cause water to seep into the handle and damage the brush over time. Allow the brushes to air dry completely before using them again.

Additional Tips for Cleaning Makeup Brushes

  • Avoid using hot water to clean your brushes, as it can damage the bristles and loosen the glue holding them in place.
  • If you prefer using a brush cleaning tool, consider investing in a brush cleaning mat or silicone glove. These tools provide additional friction, helping to remove stubborn residue from the bristles.
  • For stubborn stains or heavy buildup, you can mix a small amount of olive oil with the gentle brush cleaner or mild soap. This can help break down tough product residue while still being gentle on the bristles.
  • Always store your makeup brushes in a clean and dry place to prevent dust, debris, or bacteria from settling on them between uses.

How Often Should You Clean Your Makeup Brushes?

The frequency of cleaning your makeup brushes depends on how often you use them. As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended to clean your brushes at least once a week. However, if you use your brushes daily or apply liquid or cream products, such as foundation or concealer, it is advisable to clean them more frequently, ideally after each use.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Makeup Brushes

  1. Using harsh cleansers: Avoid using harsh cleansers, such as dish soap or alcohol, as they can damage the bristles and cause them to become brittle.
  2. Soaking the brushes: Never soak your brushes in water or let them sit in a cup or container. This can weaken the glue holding the bristles and cause shedding.
  3. Skipping the reshaping step: Neglecting to reshape the bristles after cleaning can result in misshapen brushes that do not perform optimally.
  4. Using excessive force: Be gentle when washing and drying your brushes to prevent damage to the bristles. Excessive force can lead to fraying or shedding.
  5. Storing wet brushes: Avoid storing brushes while they are still damp, as this can promote the growth of mold and bacteria. Always ensure they are thoroughly dry before storing them.

Benefits of Regularly Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Regularly cleaning your makeup brushes offers several benefits:

  • Improved makeup application: Clean brushes allow for smoother and more precise makeup application, ensuring better blending and color payoff.
  • Maintained brush performance: Proper cleaning helps preserve the quality and longevity of your brushes, ensuring they remain soft, functional, and perform optimally.
  • Reduced risk of skin irritation: By removing bacteria, oils, and product residue, you minimize the chances of skin irritation, breakouts, and infections caused by dirty brushes.
  • Enhanced overall hygiene: Regular brush cleaning promotes better hygiene by preventing the buildup of germs and impurities that can transfer to your skin.

FAQ: How Long Does It Take for Makeup Brushes to Dry After Cleaning?

The drying time for makeup brushes can vary depending on factors such as brush size, bristle density, and the ambient temperature. On average, brushes can take anywhere from a few hours to overnight to dry completely. To expedite the drying process, ensure proper airflow by laying the brushes flat or using a brush drying rack.

FAQ: Can I Use Hair Conditioner to Clean My Makeup Brushes?

While hair conditioner can make your hair soft and manageable, it is not suitable for cleaning makeup brushes. Hair conditioners often contain ingredients that can leave a residue on the bristles, potentially affecting the performance of your brushes. Stick to using gentle brush cleansers or mild soaps specifically formulated for cleaning makeup brushes.


Cleaning your makeup brushes is a crucial step in maintaining their performance and ensuring good skin hygiene. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this article and incorporating regular brush cleaning into your beauty routine, you can keep your brushes in excellent condition and enjoy flawless makeup application while promoting healthier skin.


  1. Q: How often should I clean my makeup brushes? A: It is recommended to clean your makeup brushes at least once a week, but more frequent cleaning is advised if you use them daily or with liquid or cream products.

  2. Q: Can I use dish soap to clean my makeup brushes? A: It is best to avoid using dish soap, as it can be too harsh and damage the bristles. Opt for gentle brush cleansers or mild soaps specifically formulated for makeup brushes.

  3. Q: Should I store my brushes upright or flat? A: It is advisable to lay your brushes flat to dry and store them in a clean, dry place. Storing brushes upright while wet can cause water to seep into the handle and damage the brush over time.

  4. Q: How can I remove stubborn stains from my makeup brushes? A: For stubborn stains, you can mix a small amount of olive oil with your gentle brush cleanser or mild soap to help break down the residue. However, ensure you rinse the brushes thoroughly to remove all traces of oil.

  5. Q: Can I use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process? A: It is best to avoid using a hairdryer, as the heat can damage the bristles. Allow your brushes to air dry naturally or use a brush drying rack for proper airflow.

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