How To Clean Makeup Brushes: Best Tips & Tricks

Taking care of your makeup brushes is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and achieving flawless makeup looks. There’s no good reason to be applying makeup with dirty beauty tools! 

In this article, I will guide you through the best tips and tricks to clean your makeup brushes effectively. Whether you're a makeup enthusiast or a makeup artist, proper brush-cleaning techniques are essential. Let's dive into the world of brush cleaning and discover how it can enhance your makeup routine.

Line of makeup brushes after cleaning drying on paper towel

Why Clean Makeup Brushes Matter

To achieve flawless makeup application and maintain healthy skin, clean brushes are a must. Dirty makeup brushes can harbour bacteria, oils, and old makeup residue, leading to acne breakouts and skin irritation. By regularly cleaning your brushes, you'll ensure optimal performance and safeguard your skin.

Not to mention, any product build-up can make your blending look muddy and streaky. This especially holds true for eyeshadow looks - an overloaded brush can be the difference between makeup looking expertly applied compared to half-blended!

There's no point using a luxurious makeup brush set like the VANI-T Makeup Brush Set ($80.95) and not taking care of them properly! Here's how to keep them clean. 


This 15-piece makeup brush kit has everything you need to create a flawless makeup look. The leather-look case is ideal for on the go or keeping your brushes organised at home.


Two Types of Brush Cleansing

Not a lot of people know this, but there are actually two ways to cleanse your makeup brushes: spot cleaning and deep cleaning.

Spot Cleaning

Spot cleaning doesn’t involve any water - it’s essentially dipping your makeup brush head into an alcohol-based solution and then wiping on a cloth or paper towel until the brush is clean. It’s like the dry shampoo equivalent for makeup brushes; good enough for a little while! 

This makeup brush cleansing method is perfect for in-between uses, especially for eyeshadow brushes where you might use different colours depending on the day. However, it’s important to note that this method doesn’t fully clean brushes. For that, you’ll need to do a deep clean! 

Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning makeup brushes involves using a brush shampoo - or even gentle hand soap - to get every lingering speck of makeup, facial oils, and even bacteria off of your makeup brushes!

This takes more time, but gives a more intensive clean. Ideally, you’d want to wash your brushes using this method every 14 days to ensure that they’re always performing at their best!

Woman cleaning makeup brushes

Essential Tools for Brush Cleaning

Gathering the right tools is the first step in effective brush cleaning. Here’s what I make sure that I have on hand to deep cleanse my brushes:

  • Brush cleanser of choice 
  • Makeup wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Small bowl

If you have one, a silicone brush cleansing mat is also an excellent tool for getting brushes clean in half the time. A mat like this is especially good for a synthetic bristle brush like the Anastasia Beverly Hills A30 Pro Brush ($41).

Anastasia Beverly Hills A30 Pro Brush
This synthetic fibre brush is perfect for effortlessly blending liquid and cream complexion products for a flawless finish.

What is a Good Makeup Brush Cleaner?

Can you use any old soap to wash your makeup brushes? To wash your makeup brushes like a pro, you actually have a surprising amount of choice. First, you could always go for a dedicated brush cleaner product. If you use a lot of natural hair brushes, I recommend a specific makeup brush cleanser as it won't dry them out unlike others.

However, other great options for makeup brush cleaner include:

  • Baby shampoo
  • Face wash
  • Dish soap
  • Sard soap/laundry bar

As long as you rinse properly, these products will deep clean your makeup brushes and leave them ready for your next glam sesh!

Explainer of the different parts of a makeup brush, including bristles, ferrule, and handle

Preparing Your Brushes for Cleaning

So, I know what you’re thinking - why are there so many steps for such a simple thing? The truth is, by cleansing your brushes properly and frequently, you extend the life of your brushes. This makes a huge difference if you are using high quality makeup brushes made of natural fibres. Here

The first step to prep your makeup brushes for a deep cleanse is to wipe clean the handle and ferrule, using a makeup wipe. The ferrule is the metal part of a makeup brush that holds the bristles to the handle. It’s important not to completely submerge this under water, or use water that is too hot as it could loosen the glue that holds your brush bristles in place. 

Step by Step Instructions for Washing Makeup Brushes

Here’s our expert-approved beauty guide for how to wash makeup brushes the right way. 

  1. Wet the brush bristles with cool water from your bowl.
  2. Apply a small amount of gentle shampoo or brush cleanser to your palm.
  3. Gently swirl the brush in your palm to create a lather.
  4. Rinse the bristles thoroughly using cold water, ensuring all product and cleanser residue is removed.
  5. For very dirty brushes, steps 1-4 can be repeated as needed.
  6. Gently squeeze out any excess water and reshape the bristles.
  7. Lay the brushes flat on a towel to air dry.

Persistent stains, shedding bristles, and reshaping challenges are common with makeup brushes. 

To lighten stains, use a gentle brush cleanser or consider spot-cleaning. Don’t be tempted to use anything hotter than barely-warm water to lift stains! Water that’s too hot could loosen the glue and ruin your brushes.

If your brushes shed bristles, ensure they are properly dried before storage. Reshaping can be achieved by gently molding the damp bristles back into their original shape.

How to Clean Makeup Brushes Step by Step

Additional Tips for Brush Care

Proper storage and organisation of brushes is vital to maintain their shape and cleanliness. Consider investing in brush holders or cases to keep them protected. Cleaning frequency depends on brush usage and product buildup, so customize your cleaning routine accordingly.

Clean Makeup Brushes: Key Points

Cleaning your makeup brushes is an essential step in your beauty routine. By following our best tips and tricks, you'll achieve optimal performance from your brushes while maintaining healthy skin. Embrace the ritual of brush cleaning and enjoy the benefits of flawless makeup application!

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean my makeup brushes?

Cleaning frequency depends on brush usage and product buildup. It is recommended to clean brushes at least once every two weeks for regular use.

Can I use regular soap to clean my brushes?

Synthetic brushes can hold up to using strong cleansers such as dish soap and even soap bars, like Sunlight or Sard Wonder Soap. However, natural hair makeup brushes are more delicate and should be cleansed using something like baby shampoo.

Can I use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process?

It's generally recommended to air dry your brushes to prevent heat damage. Using a hairdryer on a low, cool setting can be considered but with caution to avoid overheating the bristles.

How do I store my clean makeup brushes?

Store your clean brushes in an upright position or in brush holders to maintain their shape. Make sure they are fully dry before storing in your makeup bag to prevent mold or mildew.

Can I share my makeup brushes with others?

It's best to avoid sharing brushes, as it can lead to cross-contamination of bacteria. Keep your brushes for personal use to maintain optimal hygiene.

Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne is a passionate beauty writer with over 10 years of experience. She’s incredibly keen on all things skincare, makeup and cosmetics, with a fingertip on the pulse of the latest global beauty trends at all times.

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