Want to know how to clean makeup brushes at home? Today I’m sharing the easy way to clean makeup brushes at home using only gentle shampoo or dish soap and warm water.
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How to Clean Makeup Brushes at Home
Washing your makeup brushes regularly is important for both your skin and your wallet.
In today’s post I’m sharing how to clean makeup brushes at home, using one of the easiest techniques around that will save you time and hassle.
I’m also sharing helpful tips and guidance on how often you should wash your makeup brushes, how to properly dry makeup brushes after cleaning them, and how to care for your makeup brushes in order for them to last longer.
Posts to Read Next:
- Ultimate Makeup Brush Guide
- The Best Affordable Makeup Brushes + Sets
- Ultimate Drugstore Makeup Kit for Beginners
How to Clean Makeup Brushes at Home
Why You Should Clean Your Makeup Brushes Regularly
Before diving into today’s tutorial on how to clean your makeup brushes at home, I think it’s first important to talk about why it’s so important to clean your makeup brushes regularly.
Makeup brushes are probably the most used tool in most makeup collections, yet too often they aren’t being cleaned regularly, and as a result they don’t perform like they should.
Just as it’s important to use this makeup expiration guide so that you’re not using expired makeup products on your skin, it’s equally important to clean your makeup brushes and tools regularly.
Below I’ve included the two main reasons it’s so important.
1. Dirty Makeup Brushes Cause Breakouts
Daily dirt, oil, and debris buildup in your makeup brushes lead to bacteria and germs which can cause breakouts, acne flare-ups, or other skin conditions.
Just as you wash your clothes, dishes, and other items that you use on a regular basis, you should also be washing your makeup brushes.
If you’ve been noticing your skin recently breaking out after wearing makeup, make sure you are doing your due diligence in cleaning your makeup brushes regularly to rule that out as the issue.
2. Dirty Makeup Brushes Don’t Work As Well
Product buildup in your makeup brushes not only makes the application process more challenging, but it’s also rougher on your brushes, and will drastically shorten the lifespan of your makeup brushes.
If your makeup brushes are dirty, your blending will be spotty and you’re not going to have as much control as you would with a clean makeup brush.
Over time, excess makeup within the bristles can also cause makeup brushes to lose their original shape and glory, and cause the bristles to fray and shed.
If you want your makeup brushes to last and blend your makeup like a dream, then do yourself a favor and wash your makeup brushes regularly.
How Often To Clean Makeup Brushes
A lot of people ask the questions: “How often should I clean my makeup brushes?” and “Should you wash your makeup brushes after every use?”
Dermatologists recommend makeup brushes be cleaned every 7-10 days, but the level of frequency really depends on how much you regularly use your makeup brushes.
As a general rule of thumb you should be doing a thorough, deep cleaning of your makeup brushes 1-2 times a month, and using a brush cleanser and disinfectant on your most frequently used makeup brushes weekly.
Check out my helpful guide on How Often to Clean Makeup Brushes over here with a printable makeup brush cleaning chart.
Establishing a regular makeup brush cleaning routine will of course be the most difficult part, but to get started try setting reminders on your phone once a week.
While I’m cleaning my makeup brushes, I personally love to turn on my favorite music and put on one of my favorite sheet masks to make the process as therapeutic as possible.
Trust me, your makeup brushes, skin, and makeup application will thank you for it!
What Products to Use To Clean Makeup Brushes
There are a lot of different options when it comes to cleaning your makeup brushes, but I’ve personally found the best method to clean your makeup brushes at home is to use warm water and a gentle dish soap, gentle face cleanser, or makeup brush shampoo.
When searching for the best makeup brush cleaners there are two main important qualities to look for. First off, you want something powerful enough to actually remove the makeup, plus all the germs and bacteria. Secondly, you want something gentle that isn’t going to be harmful or irritating to your skin.
It’s all about preference here, but I recommend steering clear of products that have fragrance or ingredients that might cause adverse skin reactions.
You also want to ensure you’re not using products that might be potentially harmful to your makeup brushes, as certain types of bristles require special care.
Lastly, I recommend getting a cleansing mat like this to help easily remove stubborn makeup build-up in your brushes.
The Best Makeup Brush Cleaners/Tools
The older I get the more mindful I’m becoming of what I’m putting on my skin, and the same holds true for what I’m cleaning makeup brushes with.
Below, I’ve included my favorite makeup brush cleaners and tools that make cleaning my makeup brushes easy and quick!
Makeup Brush Cleaners
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dish Soap – Many people swear by and use regular Dawn dish soap, but I’ve been washing makeup brushes with this dish soap for years and I love that it’s both powerful and made with natural ingredients. Plus the lemon scent smells SO good!
Foaming Makeup Brush Cleaner – This makeup brush shampoo is 100% natural, antimicrobial, and fragrance + paraben free. It’s one of my go-to’s for deep cleaning all of my face makeup brushes.
Budget-Friendly Makeup Brush Cleaner – This affordable, water-based brush cleaner is popular, hypoallergenic, and cruelty-free. It’s also great if you’re on a tight budget costing less than $10!
Daily Makeup Brush Cleanser Spray – This easy to use, no rinse spray is perfect for quickly cleaning your makeup brushes daily.
Quick Cleaner Sponge – Love switching up your eyeshadow colors? Then you need this magical sponge! In an instant it erases the color off your eyeshadow brushes, allowing you to apply multiple colors using the same brush.
Gentle Makeup Remover Wipes – These gentle makeup wipes are great for lightly cleaning your makeup brushes after each use. I love taking these with me whenever I’m traveling.
Brush Cleaning Tools
Brush Cleaning Mat – This under $30 brush cleaning mat easily attaches to the base of your sink and does an amazing job at cleaning all your makeup brushes quickly. All the little grooves help really deep clean your makeup brushes and I especially love it for foundation and face brushes.
Palm-Size Makeup Brush Cleaning Mat – This is my favorite makeup brush cleaning mat for eyeshadow brushes and the small size is perfect for traveling! It’s also under $10!
Makeup Brush Drying Rack – Holds up to 28 makeup brushes at a time and is under $10!
A Step-by-Step Makeup Brush Cleaning Method
How to Clean Makeup Brushes At Home
1. Squeeze a small amount (about a tablespoon) of gentle dish soap or foaming shampoo into a bowl or mug filled with warm water.
2. Dip your brushes one at a time in the water, swirling and gently massaging the bristles in the palm of your hand to remove the makeup.
I absolutely love this makeup brush cleaning mat that easily straps to the palm of your hand. It works amazing for eye makeup brushes and makes the process so much quicker.
If your brushes are extra dirty, you may need to apply additional shampoo or soap and move your brush in circular motions. I also recommend this awesome makeup brush cleaning mat when cleaning larger foundation brushes.
It has little suction cups that stick right on the bottom of your sink, making it super easy and mess-free.
3. Rinse the makeup brushes with clean water, and lightly squeeze out excess water in your sink.
How to Clean Makeup Sponges
Cleaning makeup sponges is also super easy. Simply dampen your makeup sponge and apply a small amount of shampoo in your hand.
Gently rub the sponge in between your hands and work up a lather until it rinses clear. Let it dry completely before storing away.
How to Properly Dry Makeup Brushes
After washing your makeup brushes, the next step is to dry your makeup brushes. You want to make sure you follow a couple important rules to take the best care of your brushes.
Your goal is to prevent water from seeping into the glue at the base of your makeup brushes which can cause bristles to loosen.
To prevent this from happening, NEVER place your wet makeup brushes in a cup to dry, and make sure you let your makeup brushes dry completely before storing them away.
Here are my two favorite easy methods for drying makeup brushes:
1. Lay brushes out on a towel, with the tips of the brushes hanging slightly over the edge of the counter.
If space doesn’t allow, you can also fold one edge of your towel over a couple of times to create a slant, and place the brushes with the handle side on the elevated side so that the water runs out and down.
2. Use a drying rack like this one and point makeup brushes downward to dry. I find using a drying rack does help for the makeup brushes to dry more quickly, and it’s under $10!
After your makeup brushes have fully dried (preferably overnight), gently fluff the makeup brushes to get them back to their original shape.
Important Tips for Cleaning/Storing Makeup Brushes at Home
- When washing makeup brushes, avoid submerging the brush handles in water. This can cause damage and eventually will cause your brush handle to fall off.
- Always point your makeup brushes down when cleaning/drying, so that the water falls off the end of the bristles and again doesn’t cause damage to the handles.
- Store clean makeup brushes and dirty makeup brushes separately, until you have time to clean the dirty ones. This will help stop the potential spreading of bacteria.
- Store clean makeup brushes in an upright makeup holder or makeup pouch to keep them in their best condition. I actually love storing mine in cute coffee mugs like these.
- Last but not least, be gentle on your makeup brushes and use them lightly when applying makeup. Avoid pressing down hard with them and they will last so much longer.
When Should I Replace My Makeup Brushes?
Cleaning your makeup brushes can drastically extend the life of your makeup brushes, and if well cared for your makeup brushes can last for many years.
But in case you’re wondering how to know when it’s time to replace your makeup brushes, I’m sharing a few things to look for.
If your makeup brushes and bristles start to fray, shed, or lose their intended shape, it’s time to consider replacing them. You also want to replace makeup brushes that no longer blend properly.
In case you’re in the market for some new makeup brushes, check out my post The Best Affordable Makeup Brushes + Sets.
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I hope you enjoyed today’s post on How to Best Clean Makeup Brushes at Home and I hope this post will inspire you to start cleaning your brushes more regularly, if you aren’t already.
The more you clean your makeup brushes, the easier and less time-consuming it will be, and your skin will 110% thank you for it.
I’d love to know- how often do you currently clean your makeup brushes? Do you have any questions on how to wash makeup brushes? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for stopping by!- Cara
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Hi , You stated deep cleaning of your makeup brushes 1-2 times a month and using a brush cleanser and disinfectant on your brushes weekly. I didn’t see any disinfectants mentioned in your post or ones to use. Just how to clean and mats and brush cleaners. What do I use to disinfect and how??
Hi Cynthia, the brush cleaners I recommend have anti-bacterial properties in them. But if you want to disinfect further you can always use a spray bottle with a little bit of alcohol in it. Hope that helps!
Thanks for all the tips and recommendations. I wanted to order the daily cleaning spray but it goes to a different product when I click on the link. I have a couple questions. Is spraying alcohol on the brush wrong? It seems like it would kill bacteria but it’s definitely not gentle! Also, when I look at DIY brush cleaners I see one with olive oil and one with vinegar. Both use dish soap. Any thoughts on how how olive oil and vinegar effect the brush cleaning solution?
Hi Jodie, apologies for the link mix-up. I have updated it now and here is the link: https://bit.ly/34yhYl6
Also, those are great questions! Alcohol can be used/sprayed on your makeup brushes as a daily disinfectant but shouldn’t be what you rely on to deep clean your makeup brushes. I haven’t personally tried the olive oil one, but vinegar does work great as a DIY solution. It’s good for getting rid of any extra oils that might be built up in foundation brushes. Hope that helps! 🙂
How often do you need to wash brushes?
Hi Joanna! I actually just published a post answering this very question. https://www.kindlyunspoken.com/how-often-to-clean-makeup-brushes/ In general, high use brushes (such as foundation and concealer) should be washed weekly and you should deep clean all your brushes once a month.
Where did you find that stand for your hair products?
Hey Barb- I bought it on Amazon over here. I love that it spins and you can adjust the shelving levels to fit everything nicely! 🙂
I don’t remember the last time I cleaned my brushes. I think you’re right… getting the routine established is the hardest part. Maybe if I decided to do it at the end of every month it would happen more often?? Thanks for getting me thinking about this because I know I need to be doing it.
Yep- setting reminders on my phone definitely has helped me.
Thanks for sharing this! I def don’t clean my brushes as much as I SHOULD. The only thing that I clean weekly is my beauty blender and even that gets so nasty. I plan to buy a second next week during the Sephora VIB sale. I can’t live without my Sigma mat and my solid beauty blender cleanser. Those are the two main things I use. I also have the Sigmagic Brush Cleaner which also comes in a foam. This works WONDERS on foundation brushes which in my opinion are the hardest to clean. Luckily I haven’t used foundation brushes in quite a while. All my other brushes aren’t that bad to clean. It just takes a while because I clean 50+ brushes at a time lol
Oh I’ve never tried that brush cleaner but it sounds awesome!
Call me crazy, but I love cleaning my makeup brushes. This is mostly due to seeing how much product leaves the brush. It is amazing how much is left on the brush after using and attempting to swipe it clean. Plus, having clean makeup brushes reduces the amount of bacteria that can clog your pores!
Haha it sounds like me and you are similar. I love power-washing outside. It’s amazing to see how seemingly clean sidewalks are actually covered in tons of grime and dirt. Best feeling ever is when you clean it all away!
OK….it is time! LOL After reading this post I have realized that mine haven’t been cleaned in months! opps…. :-/
Haha happy to help! 🙂
Great step-by-step walkthrough. I desperately need to clean my makeup brushes right now, so this could not be better timed!
Thanks Valerie! Glad it was helpful.
These are great tips! I have a makeup brush washing pad that I use but I don’t use it nearly enough as I should. I think I might have to clean my brushed tonight 🙂 Sierra~Beautifully Candid
Brush mats are helpful too but I forget to use mine and usually just wash by hand lol.
I need to do this! Thanks girl!!
Anytime! Glad to help. 🙂
We have so many of the same brushes! I cleaned all of mine on Saturday – where was this post then? LOL! I used Dawn and baby shampoo to clean the brushes, and did the Dawn and microwave trick for my beauty sponges. They look brand new! I felt so accomplished!
Oh yay! Don’t you feel so accomplished?!
I slack on cleaning my brushes, but when I do clean them, it’s amazing!! I use dish soap, hot water and vinegar to clean mine! 🙂
Vinegar is a great ingredient too! 🙂
I need to check out that brush shampoo. I clean my RT beauty blender daily or every other day. The rest of my brushes? They dont get near the attention they should with the cleaner haha. I need to work on that.
I’m embarrassingly the opposite and don’t clean my beauty blender nearly enough. TBH I usually throw it away and get a new one over cleaning them since they don’t last very long anyways.
I’ m always the worst at waiting waaaaaay too long to clean mine – and then they just pile up and it takes a half hour to get them all done! Ha! But I use sensitive skin dish soap when I clean mine – it gets EVERYTHING out!!
I totally agree- being proactive helps lessen the amount of time it takes to clean them.
This is a GREAT guide! I am totally taking your tips and cleaning my brushes this week.
Yay! So glad I could help!
I really need to deep clean my makeup brushes! I tend to just run them under warm water when I’m done using them haha.
Yeah, you really have to get in there and rub the product out. I’d love if running them under water was enough though! 🙂
I love using a brush cleaning mat. It seriously cleans my brushes a million times better! I really want to try the free & gentle soap!
You’d love the brush shampoo! I’m on my second bottle now and it works so great. And brush cleaning mats are awesome aren’t they?
I’m embarrassed to admit I have no idea when the last time was I cleaned my brushes, and that’s just plain ol’ gross! Thanks for the inspiration and motivation to clean mine when I have time this weekend <3
Hope you found it helpful! I used to be SO bad about putting it off but I try to stay on track with it now.
This is a great step-by-step guide on how to clean makeup brushes! This was a very informative post and gave me a better idea about cleaning my brushes! Thank you!
Beth || http://www.TheStyleBouquet.com
Thanks Beth. Glad you found it helpful!
What great tips!
I have the same makeup sponge and it definitely needs to be washed! Thanks for these tips, they seem really doable!
Glad you found it helpful Chelsea!
I am in total agreement with you here and establishing a routine is definitely hard. I don’t clean my brushes as often as I should but I clean them just like you do, only with a different brand of soap. When my face starts breaking out, I realize how long it’s been. We never think about it, but you’re absolutely right about bacteria growing in our brushes. Thanks for the reminder to take better care of my makeup tools!
Thanks Kristi, and that’s a great point. A lot of time the cause of breakouts on our skin is from dirty brushes/sponges. Definitely try to stay on top of it in keeping mine cleaned regularly.
I use the kids baby soap to waxh my brushes, but I should look into those wipes!
Going to share this on the blog on Friday!
Thank you so much for sharing it!
That’s such a good method too. And yes the wipes are so helpful for cleaning right after you’re finished doing your makeup.
Great tips! Your brush collection is to be envied!
Thank-you! I don’t use some of these on a regular basis, but have them in my arsenal when it’s time to switch one out. 😉
This is exactly how I clean my brushes, too! I’ve become really mindful about cleaning my sponge/concealer brushes a couple times a week because of bacteria and my acne-prone skin. I think it has helped. And, yes to keeping brushes in cute mugs!
Yay! Great minds think alike. 😉
I hate to admit that I don’t wash my brushes as often as I should. I need to get my ish together. LOL!
Haha I’m pretty good about my brushes but to be honest I usually slack on my beauty blender, which I know is so BAD. lol
I try to clean mine fairly regularly but yeah… that doesn’t happen as much as it should lol. I’ll definitely be checking out that brush shampoo!!
It’s SO good! I’m on my second bottle of it right now.
This is something I need to do WAY more than I do now. Which is, once or twice a year. Gross I know!! But this makes it sound so easy so I think I will do it one night this week!
It honestly helps make it easier the more often you do it, because you’re not spending hours and hours removing all the yuck. I’m a huge fan of the brush shampoo too which is so gentle and removes makeup easily.