How to Clean Makeup Brushes

October 3, 2012 by  
Filed under makeup lessons

By Serena Grant

Cleaning your makeup brushes on a regular basis is important to keep them in the best condition. Over time, makeup brushes in make up sets tend to build up a lot of nasty residue, from hair to dead skin and bacteria. Brushes also become less effective for use if they get clogged up, and can mean that you’re not getting the best value out of them. In this way, getting into a good cleaning routine for your brushes is necessary if you want to look your best, and avoid irritating your skin or causing an infection. There are many ways to do this, all of which are straightforward and require only a small amount of equipment.

Getting the Right Equipment

To clean your makeup brushes, you should have a good supply of white soap for basic washing. Baby shampoo also works as a mild cleaner for bristles, as does hair conditioner for adding softness. Some liquid disinfectant is worth having for cleaning brush handles. Olive oil is similarly effective at getting out stubborn bits and pieces from brush heads. Specific brush cleaners can be bought, which can be used as part of a daily cleaning routine. As well as these items, it’s worth having some rubber gloves to avoid making a mess on your hands, and an old jam jar or mug for storing brushes.

Steps To Cleaning 

  • The first step in cleaning your brushes is to divide them into larger blushes and foundation brushes, and narrower eyeliner and lipliner brushes. Smaller brushes won’t require as heavy duty cleaning.
  • Run brushes under lukewarm water, making sure to avoid the metal part of a brush. If water gets inside a brush, it will cause rusting over time. You now have a few different options.
  • For a basic clean, use white soap lathered up over brush bristles. The soap can then be rinsed off in lukewarm water. Alternatively, use baby shampoo squeezed onto a paper towel, and blot the brush until it’s fully covered. Rub the shampoo gently into fine brushes, and rinse off with water.
  • For more difficult to remove grime on brushes, use olive oil on a brush, rubbing it thoroughly into the bristles and then rinsing. Baby shampoo also works well here to thoroughly lather up brushes.


Brushes should be cleaned in this way about once a week. However, if you want to cut down on cleaning time, invest in a spray on brush cleaner. This can be sprayed onto brushes as a mild disinfectant and cleaner, and can be blotted on a wipe. Disinfectant wipes can similarly be used to quickly remove build ups on a brush after use. You can also use the same process to clean brush handles.

Final Tip

Once rinsed, place brushes flat down on a towel to air dry. Reshape brush heads after use to prevent them from splitting. Hanging bristles off the edge of a towel will help them to dry quicker. Try to avoid using hair dryers, as these can lead to bristles splitting, or the head of a brush losing its shape.

About the Author

Serena Grant is a fashion, makeup and beauty blogger, currently a fan of Crown Brush – experts in cosmetics, make-up brushes and make up sets.

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