10 Simple Ways to deep clean your Makeup Brushes

Whether you’ve invested in luxury makeup brushes or their cheaper counterparts, it’s vitally important to keep them in tip top condition. Everyday spot cleaning is good at keeping the grime at bay, but eventually bacteria and old makeup will build up and if you don’t do a proper deep cleanse, these germs can transfer back onto your skin causing blemishes. Keeping your beauty tools clean will also prolong their lifespan and keep them performing like new. These are my 10 simple ways to deep clean your makeup brushes

10 Simple Ways to deep clean your Makeup Brushes

1. Make it less boring

Nobody enjoys washing makeup brushes and depending on how many brushes you have, cleaning can take up a lot of precious time too. So to help make the process less of a chore, get all your dirty brushes to the sink and then plug in to your favourite playlist. Music makes everything better!

2. Use lukewarm water

10 Simple Ways to deep clean your Makeup Brushes

It’s important to use lukewarm water because hot water can damage the bristles and loosen the glue (if the barrel of the brush accidentally gets wet).

Start by dampening the brush head under a tap of running lukewarm water. Gently squeeze out as much dirt from it as you can. Keep the handle upwards and at an angle, away from the water.

3. Use a mild soap

There are products out there specifically designed for cleaning your makeup brushes. I like the Bare Minerals ‘Well-cared for’ brush conditioning one, for example. But if you want to use a product that I believe is of better value, will leave your brushes smelling gorgeous and is just as good; I recommend Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. They are fair trade and made with organic oils. My favourites are the Peppermint liquid soap and Lavender liquid soap, both smell absolutely divine! Don’t use anything harsh like washing up liquid – it will only damage the delicate brush hairs and thus shorten the lifespan of your brush.

4. Use the lid of an empty beauty product

10 Simple Ways to deep clean your Makeup Brushes

To help alleviate the boredom, I like to take breaks from standing at the sink. I discovered that using the lid of any used up beauty products (the lid of a hair mask is my favourite as it’s quite big and not too deep) meant I could walk about or sit down without worrying about soapy water dripping from my hand onto the floor.

Add a few drops of your cleaning product onto the lid and gently begin to swirl your brush around. Make sure you keep the brush pointing down so no water leaks into the barrel (were the body meets the bristles). Don’t press down too hard or you might damage the bristles. Keep swirling your brush gently building up into a lather. After a few minutes or so, rinse your brush head under the tap, squeezing out the excess. If the brush runs clear, you’re good to go. If not, just repeat the step. Rinse the lid under the tap and you’re ready for the next brush.

Note – old brushes can become stained with prolonged use. As long as the water runs clear, the brush is clean.

5. Wash the handle

Your brushes mix together in their holders, are in and out of makeup bags, not to mention in your hands. So it’s important not to neglect the handle, as it can become dirty also. Just be extra, extra vigilant to avoid getting the barrel wet.  OK…maybe I’m being a bit of a clean freak but if you want your brushes to be spotlessly germ-free clean – don’t skip this step!

Lather some of your cleaning product in your hand and wash over the handle, to remove any dirt or dust. Pat it dry with a towel, being careful to focus your attention on the bottom half of the brush – where you would most likely be holding it.

6. Elevation

10 Simple Ways to deep clean your Makeup Brushes

I like to get through the washing part as fast as I can and to help speed things up a bit, I lay my newly washed brushes on an elevated towel beside the sink. This enables you to quickly get on with cleaning the next brush and so your brushes won’t be soaking wet when it comes to step 7.

7. Hang and Dry

10 Simple Ways to deep clean your Makeup Brushes

It can take up to 24 hours for makeup brushes to dry naturally, sometimes longer depending on the density of the bristles. It can be tempting to cheat and use a hairdryer or leave them on a heater, but if you choose these methods you can risk damaging both the brush hairs and/or the barrel. I’ve found the best method is to hang them upside down (brush head facing the floor) near an open window to air dry. This will keep the brush hairs in good shape and not loosen the glue in the barrel.

Gently pat the brush head with a towel if the bristles are still really wet. Hang your brushes to dry upside down on a towel rack secured with a hairband or elastic band. If there is a nearby window, leave it slightly open to let the air circulate and let them dry naturally. If you don’t have a towel rack you could literally hang them out to dry on a clothesline. Or if there is no window nearby – a hand fan or a ceiling fan can help speed up the drying process.

P.S. If you really need to dry your brush, you could use a hairdryer on its lowest setting. I would only do this if your hairdryer can blow cold air. If you can follow step 9 however, you shouldn’t need to do this at all.

8. Wash the brush holder

Is this me being a clean freak again? Just like how your brushes will build up with dirt and bacteria, so will the container you keep them in. The last thing you would want to do is put your brand-spanking clean brushes back into a dirty holder.

Quickly clean the holder using a cloth and the same cleaning product used for your brushes, rinse out and dry with a towel.

9. Have spare brushes available

If your brushes still aren’t dry by the morning, it’s aways handy to have spares ready to use in their place. A great excuse to buy more brushes! You can never have too many, in my opinion!

10. Take care of your hands

Even with a mild soap your hands can get dry, especially if you have sensitive skin. Keep them in good condition by applying a hand lotion after you’ve finished washing your brushes.

Let me know if you found this post helpful and please leave any of your own tips.


  1. Leave a Reply

    Beth | TOASTY
    April 19, 2015

    These are such good tips! I’m going to have to try using an old product lid, it’s not something I ever would have thought of doing but it makes so much sense. I used to be so bad at remembering to wash my brushes but thankfully I’m getting better ๐Ÿ™‚ xx


    • Leave a Reply

      April 20, 2015

      It’s such a chore isn’t it? A large lid is the best type to use, very handy when you don’t want to stand a sink constantly! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Leave a Reply

      April 20, 2015

      Hehe. Thanks. I don’t dry them any other way now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Leave a Reply

    Rock On Holly
    April 17, 2015

    Great tips! I’m planning on cleaning my brushes this weekend, so your post ams at the perfect time! xx

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