How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

If there’s one makeup rule you need to follow, it’s to learn how to clean your makeup brushes—and do it frequently.
Keeping your brushes, sponges and beauty tools clean is consistently the #1 piece of advice that makeup artists give, and for good reason. Not only are dirty tools less effective and have a shorter life span (and if you’re spending good money on your brushes, who wants that?) but they are the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria.
We’re not saying that if you don’t clean your brushes, you’ll get a drug-resistant staph infection. But the odds of something unpleasant happening to your face—acne, rashes, aggravation of existing skin conditions like keratosis pilaris, eye infections—increase exponentially if you don’t observe good makeup hygiene.
Get into the good habit of regularly cleaning and maintaining your products, and your face (and health) will thank you! Since we’re all about cleaning and organizing our makeup-loving lives, here’s how to clean ALL your beauty tools.

how to clean makeup brushes
Photo: Nicholas / Getty Images
1. Makeup brushes.
How often: Varies. Once every two weeks is fine for normal use; after each use if you’re doing big, elaborate makeup looks. If you’ve been sick, clean and sanitize everything once you’re better to make sure no residual germs are left behind.
Method: Using professional makeup cleaner or baby shampoo in a shallow bowl, swirl each brush around until no more product comes out of the bristles. Rinse the cleanser out in warm (never hot) water. Finally, let the brushes dry by either gently reshaping the bristles with your (clean) fingers and sitting them on a clean towel, or suspending them upside-down using hair elastics and a towel rack. NEVER leave your brushes to dry by sitting them upright; this is bad for the bristles and the metal fixtures!
Extra credit: If you share your makeup brushes, regular cleaning isn’t enough; you need to sanitize them, too. Luckily, this is super-easy: after regular washing, swirl each brush around in a small dish filled with rubbing alcohol. Let them dry flat or upside-down. Bye bye, bacteria!

how to clean makeup sponges
Photo: Steve Wisbauer / Getty
2. Sponges.
How often: After every few uses. Every week at the longest.
Method: Wet the sponge thoroughly. Apply a small amount of baby shampoo or makeup cleanser to the surface of the sponge and work up a lather, then gently press or squeeze the sponge until no more product comes out. Rinse well, and repeat until no more product is coming out of the sponge. Wring it out and let it air dry on a clean towel.
If you’re using a BeautyBlender—which we highly recommend, because they’re amazing—you should clean them after every use. Add the cleanser, then gently press the egg-shaped sponge until no more makeup comes out. Don’t ever scrub or use tools to clean your Blenders! It will ruin them!

how to clean powder puffs
Photo: Camilla Wisbauer / Getty
3. Powder puffs / Compact applicators.
How often: Varies. Every week in the summer (or during periods of heavy use), and every other week in the winter (or when you’re not using it as much).
Method: Many people tell you to put puffs in a lingerie bag and toss it in the laundry; don’t do this. Instead, wash it the same way you would a sponge: with baby shampoo or makeup cleanser, lather (be gentle so that you don’t damage the fluffy hairs), rinse well. Allow to dry thoroughly on a clean towel—you don’t want any dampness coming into contact with your powder products!
Extra credit: If your puff has lost some fluff post-washing, a blowdryer on a low, warm (not hot) setting will help separate the fibers and poof it up again.

how to clean metal beauty tools
Photo: Ojenik / Getty Images
4. Metal tools (tweezers, nail clippers, etc).
How often: Ideally after each use.
Method: Remove any non-metal components (like rubber pads from eyelash curlers), then wash each using warm water and antibacterial soap. Sanitize the entire product by either dipping it in rubbing alcohol or wiping it down with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball. Leave to dry on a clean towel.
Quick clean: If you can’t do this every single time, at LEAST wipe them down with rubbing alcohol when you’re done using them.
Extra credit: If for any reason your metal tools come into contact with blood (like you’ve used tweezers to remove a splinter), put them in a pot of boiling water for ten minutes, then wipe down with disinfectant. Take no chances when it comes to blood borne pathogens.

how to clean hairbrushes
Photo: Westend61 / Getty
5. Hair brushes / combs.
How often: Every month.
Method: Combs are very easy: soak in a sink full of warm water (with a little baby shampoo added) for fifteen minutes, then dry well.
Hair brushes are a little more complicated. First, remove as much hair from the brush as you can using your fingers or a wide-toothed comb. Rinse the brush well under warm water. Fill your sink with warm water and a little bit of baby shampoo and swish your brush through for about a minute. If there’s still gunk left on the bristles or the pad, add a teeny bit of extra baby shampoo to your (clean) fingers and lather the affected areas. Rinse very, very well. Let air dry, bristles facing down, over the edge of your bathtub. DO NOT dry your hair brush with the bristles facing up; water can get trapped in the padding, and encourage bacterial growth!

how to clean loofahs
Photo: Westlight / Getty Images
6. Loofahs / puffs / bath sponges.
How often: Every two weeks.
Method: Fill your sink with warm water and a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide. Soak your loofah or puff for about half an hour (sea sponges should only be soaked for 15 minutes), then rinse well. Allow to air dry either hanging or standing upright.

how to clean makeup
Photo: Daniel SB Foto / Getty Images
7. Products.
How often: Every two weeks is best, but every month is acceptable if you’re the only one using your makeup. If you’ve shared products or are sick, clean them after each use. Take no chances here.
Method: You can buy special makeup cleaners, but it’s not really necessary. Instead, pour rubbing alcohol into a small spray bottle, then spray the surface of each product. Rubbing alcohol evaporates immediately, so this won’t damage or change the consistency of your products at all.
Extra credit: Clean the containers, too. Soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and rub down the plastic or cardboard housing of each product. Use a new cotton ball for each item so that you don’t accidentally cross-contaminate.

How to clean makeup case
Photo: Plainview / Getty Images
8. Makeup cases / bags.
How often: Every two weeks to every month. After all, your tools are only as clean as the containers they live in, aren’t they?
Method: Take everything out of the case or bag. Wipe out any spilled product with a warm washcloth, then soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and wipe down the inside. Using a new cotton ball, wipe the outside as well. Leave open and allow to air dry throughly.

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  1. Very great post! It’s extremely important that makeup brushes be regularly cleaned and the product build-up properly removed, so that all the grime doesn’t get transferred to your face and cause a bad reaction or worse, a terrible breakout! Thanks for sharing this one!

    Makeup Brush Set

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