Makeup Brushes – Cleaning Techniques

by Gorgeousgirl Staff, Updated July 15, 2022
Makeup Brushes – Cleaning Techniques

Regardless of how many makeup brushes you might have, there’s always that one eye shade you haven’t used in a while because the right brush for it isn’t clean. Also, if you have just purchased a new foundation, you surely hope to never forget to wash that sponge again.

The below cleaning techniques for makeup brushes can clean your them squeaky clean with products that you have at hand.

When You Should Clean Makeup Brushes

You should clean your brushes once a month if you use them daily or just occasionally. Dust and airborne bacteria can build up. Moreover, if you keep them in the bathroom, you end up with a humid environment that promotes germ growth (Tip: makeup artists don’t recommend keeping any makeup products in the bathroom).

The optimal brush care involves cleaning them once a month. By doing so, you protect the skin from bacteria and the brush from quick deterioration. Makeup artist Bobbi Brown advises clients to clean the brushes they use around their eyes at least twice a month.

If you are interested in more expert tips for how to keep your makeup brushes in optimal shape for longer time check this article on how to clean makeup brushes by using only household items from the experts at You will be surprised by what a bar of soap and a small bottle of baby shampoo can do for your brushes.

Our techniques can be applied to all types of makeup brushes. The cleaning process should not last for more than an hour, even if you own an extensive collection of brushes. However, pieces like eyeshadow brushes might be a bit more challenging to clean because of the colors.

I. The Soap Technique

The quickest method for cleaning your makeup tools takes up to five minutes per brush, a gentle liquid soap (preferably, a botanical one as it contains hydrating essential oils), and warm water. Additionally, you can add a bit of olive oil (1/4 teaspoon) to keep the bristles hydrated and soft.

  • Wet the bristles with warm water.
  • Place a drop of soap in your palm and gently massage the tips of the bristles in it.
  • Rinse the bristles.
  • Squeeze the excess out using a clean towel.
  • Reshape the brush head.
  • Dry the brush by letting it hang off the edge of a counter to make sure it keeps the correct shape.

Avoid drying the brushes on a towel, because bristles can become mildewed. Also, keep the base of the brush head away from moisture to prevent altering the glue. Don’t dry the brushes with the hairs up.

II. The Mat Technique

It might take up to 20-30 minutes to clean an extensive collection of dirty brushes. However, there’s another method that turns out to be highly efficient. If you plan to wash sponges also, you should look for the best ways to perform the operation. Brushes, though, can be cleaned with the mat technique. You need a cleaning mat or a clean silicone table mat with 3D stripes and circular models. What’s great about this cleaning method is that you don’t get your hands dirty.

  • Place a bit of a foamy face cleanser with makeup removing agents in your palm and transfer it on each brush.
  • Quickly swirl the brushes on the wet mat placed in the sink. Repeat.
  • Dry the brushes and hang them as directed in the previous method.
  • Once on a blue moon, you can quickly blow dry them. However, heat might make the bristles thick.


III. The Intense Technique

So, you may have omitted one brush during the last cleaning session or have just found a dusty one hidden somewhere in the house. Brushes that don’t get cleaned regularly become greasy and need a higher intensity method. Here’s one.

  • Apply a few drops of natural or regular gentle dish soap in your palm.
  • Gently rub the bristles onto the soap and draw circles in the palm.
  • Put the brush under running water, rubbing it gently to your fingertips.
  • Rinse the brush until water runs clear.
  • Let the brush dry.

IV. The Shampoo Technique

There are makeup brush cleaning techniques that you can perform even when you are taking a bath.

  • Squeeze a bit of hair shampoo in a mug and fill it with warm water.
  • Swirl the brushes in the water. Gently massage them while swirling.
  • Rinse with clean water.
  • Squeeze out excess water and let them dry.

You can replace the mug with a bowl. Also, you can use baby shampoo which is a bit gentler than other products.
Extra Cleaning Tips for Makeup Brushes

  • Let wooden brushes dry on at an angle or hanged to avoid changing the shape of the handle due to humidity.
  • If you clean the brushes more often than on a monthly basis, make sure that the process is gentle.
  • Don’t use similar makeup shades on the same brush. They have different formulas and might interact with one another, causing irritation.
  • Clean hard-to-reach dry areas with a makeup spatula instead of your fingertips to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Brushes aren’t everything. Also, keep your makeup products clean and change them as often as possible.

The Don’ts of Makeup Brush Cleaning

  • As tempting as they may sound, don’t rely on sprays to clean your brushes as they will do it superficially.
  • Steer clear of the so-called high intensity shampoos for your brushes. Sometimes, the formula might just be too harsh.
  • Don’t squeeze the bristles too hard while washing or drying them.


You should clean your makeup brushes regularly. Experts recommned to do it on a monthly basis. Try to develop a routine for cleaning the brushes and stick to it. Also, if you clean them in the evening, you can let them dry overnight and use them in the morning. Our cleaning techniques involve only products that you already own.

By Gorgeousgirl Staff

At GorgeousGirl, our staff is a collection of highly skilled cosmetologists, estheticians, and higher education professionals. Our personnel works together to satisfy your fancies.