Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes



Keeping with last month’s theme of “Spring Cleaning”, I want to do a post all about cleaning your makeup brushes. Brushes should be cleaned regularly; spot cleaned at least every other day and deep cleaned once a week, or at a very minimum once a month. A good rule of thumb is to treat them like the hair on your head. Wash them as often as you would your hair and treat them kindly.

Cleaning your brushes is extremely important because you are touching your makeup to your face and transferring product, oils, and bacteria back and forth.  Clean brushes decrease breakouts as bacteria do not have a chance to accumulate.  This will also prolong the shelf life of your products.

Spot Cleaning

Spot cleaning can be done with a brush cleanser and a paper towel or old washcloth. You can purchase premade brush cleaner, but I make my own out.

Homemade Brush Cleaner

2 Cups distilled water

1/2 Cup 91 % isopropyl alcohol

1 tablespoon  dish soap

1 tablespoon clear shampoo (baby or clarifying shampoo works best)

2 tablespoons leave-in conditioner or conditioning spray

This will make a fair amount of solution, so halving the recipe may work for you if you do not use your brushes as frequently. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a jar or spray bottle.  

To spot clean, either spray or pour a little solution on your towel and work your brush back and forth until the bristles are clean. Then pat dry using a dry section of the towel and store as you normally do. No need to rinse.  The conditioner keeps the bristles soft and the alcohol kills the bacteria and makes them safe for daily use.

Deep Cleaning

In addition to spot cleaning, a good deep cleaning is needed periodically to work all residual product out of the brushes and make them squeaky clean.

To start, make sure the area where you will be cleaning is itself clean.

Laying clean makeup brushes back onto a germy surface (such as a kitchen or bathroom sink) defeats the purpose of cleaning them. Having a clean towel to lay your brushes on immediately after washing is helpful.

Next, choose a soap that is clarifying.

You can also use baby shampoo if you prefer something very mild. I do not recommend using straight dish soap unless you need to cut through a cream product (foundation, concealer, etc). You can also buy bar soaps to use such as Zote laundry soap or “The Masters” Brush Cleaner and Preserver“.   I also use a hand scrubber that helps me quickly work into all the bristles and cuts my cleaning time in half but using the palm of your hand is a great alternative.


Wet your brush with a little warm water and pour a little soap onto your scrubber or into your hand.

Take care not to get the metal ferrule or the wood handle wet as this can cause the glue to loosen and destroy your brush.  Start working the brush back and forth in small circles and in windshield wiper motions. Rinse your brush as you go and keep cleaning the brush until the water runs clear and no more soap is in the bristles.



If you need to clean a brush that has been used with a thick creamy product, start with a small amount of dish soap to work through the product. Then follow up with a small amount of the clarifying soap and wash the brush until the water runs clear.

Lay your brushes on a flat surface to dry. To speed up the drying process, perch them on the edge of the flat surface so that air can circulate fully around the bristles. Do not dry your brushes vertically as water may run into the metal ferrule and cause damage. Reshape your brushes gently so that the bristles stay together neatly.


You can also use a mesh brush guard to help shape the bristles while drying. Brush guards also protect the brushes during storage. Drying can take anywhere from a couple hours to overnight depending on the brush.


Good luck mamas, and until next time, stay beautiful!


[typography font=”Satisfy” size=”24″ size_format=”px”]Written By:  Beatriz[/typography]

BeatrizI am a self-taught free lance make-up artist serving the Burlington area. I have a strong passion for helping people look and feel their best.  I am constantly on the prowl for how I can bring both the latest looks and styles, as well as classic standards of beauty, to my diverse clientele.  You can find out more about me on my FB page here.



  1. Good information.
    Be careful not to get too much soap or water however near where the bristles are attached to the brush. This can loosen the glue over time, ruining your brushes. I usually add a bit of water to a small shallow glass, a bit of cleanser (or gentle shampoo), then just swirl the brushes in it. Then rinse holding the brushes, bristles down til the water runs clear. Depending on how dirty your brushes are you will probably have to change out water and the cleanser in the cup a few times. Works like a charm! Reshape bristles and lay flat. I will probably be purchasing through Amazon which have very big fur at the end of the brushes.


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