How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes Like a Pro

Youtube Video

How often do you clean your makeup brushes? Although this tends to be the one thing we most overlook, it is one of the most important things we can do!  Makeup brushes are an investment and we want to make sure you get all you can from them. Makeup brushes can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Think of how much bacteria is on your face daily.  Bacteria and natural oils transmit onto your brushes every time they come in contact with your skin. And if you are using them on clients, you may be picking up germs and transferring them onto other people including you.

Regular Cleaning Will Help Remove:

  • Old Makeup
  • Dirt and Debris
  • Dead Skin Cells
  • Bacteria
  • Oils

Another benefit of keeping your makeup brushes clean is softness. Makeup buildup on your brushes can make them feel scratchy. Cleaning your brushes on a regular basis will help keep them soft and supple. This is especially great for people with sensitive skin.

So how often should you clean your makeup brushes? Preferably, once a week if not more, this will help maintain your brushes lifespan. Wash your brushes at night and allow them to dry so they will be ready for the next day, or right after your apply your makeup. You just want to make sure you allow enough time for them to dry thoroughly before using.

Below we are going to give your some of the best and most cost effective ways to clean your brushes.

What You Will Need

  • Bar of Soap
  • Sponge
  • Olive Oil or Almond Oil
  • Hair Conditioner
  • Baby Shampoo or Liquid Detergent
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Clear Finger Nail Polish – This is optional

How to Clean Your Brushes

  • Soap – You want to use an unscented, pure, white soap for this. Dial or Ivory would be ideal. With lukewarm water, get your brush completely wet. Once your brush has been saturated, swirl the brush onto the bar of soap until it lathers up nicely. Then, rinse the brush in lukewarm water. Make sure you don’t use water that is to hot or too cold. Also, when rinsing your brushes, don’t get water above the shaft or metal part. If you do it will eventually cause rust which will cause the bristles of the brush to fall out. Gently squeeze out any excess water from the brush and lay it flat on a clean towel and allow them to air dry for at least 6 to 8 hours.
  • Detergent or Baby Shampoo and a Sponge – Take a clean sponge and wet it once again using lukewarm water. You can use either baby shampoo or dish detergent whichever one you prefer. Wet your brush making sure you saturate the brush completely. Squeeze a small amount of detergent or shampoo onto the sponge and swirl your brush on the sponge working up a good lather. Then rinse your brush with lukewarm water. You want to make sure you feel the brush when you are rinsing it to make sure you rinse all the shampoo or detergent out of the brush. If it feels slippery or slimy, continue to rinse until your brush feels clean. Once again, squeeze out the excess water and lay them flat on a clean towel to dry.
  • Olive or Almond Oil – This should only be used for brushes that are heavily embedded with makeup. For example, if your used your brush in a gel liner or if the brush is very stiff with makeup residue. Take a clean paper towel and dispense a small amount of either olive oil or almond oil and swirl the brush (dry) onto the towel. Don’t use to much oil, you don’t want your brush to become soaked with oil. You just want to use enough to help break down the makeup on the brush. After that, clean the brush like normal and make sure your rinse the brush completely and lay flat on a clean towel to dry.
  • Beauty Blenders (what are these?) – So many of you ask how to clean these and the process is pretty much like cleaning any other of your makeup brushes. You can use either a bar of soap, baby shampoo or dish detergent. Using dish detergent does make it a little easier when cleaning these because you can directly apply it to the beauty blender. Cleaning beauty blenders do take a little bit longer because of the rinsing process. Wet the beauty blender with lukewarm water and squeeze on a small amount of detergent onto it. Roll the Beauty Blender in your hands to help work the detergent completely in to it and rinse until the water is clear. Make sure you rinse these thoroughly until you see clean water when you squeeze the beauty blender. If the water isn’t clear, there is still product in the beauty blender. You may have to repeat this process a few times to get the beauty blender completely clean since they do soak up a lot of product. Once clean, squeeze out any excess water and lay flat to dry. You will know when the beauty blender is dry because it will have shrunk in size.

Now that your brushes are perfectly clean, we need to focus on another aspect of thoroughly cleaning your brushes…the handle! When you use your makeup brushes you are transferring germs, bacteria and even makeup onto the handles of your brushes. Remember, anything that is on the handle of your brushes is being passed to everything else you touch. To clean the handle of your brushes, pour rubbing alcohol onto a paper towel and rub over the handle of your brushes. This will not only clean but disinfect the handles as well. Another great tip to keep your brushes looking great is to apply clear fingernail polish over the numbers or names that are written on the brush. This will keep the name or number of the brushes from eventually wearing off and make the brushes easy to identify.  Some brushes can feel stiff even after washing them. You want your brushes to feel soft and luxurious against your skin. If this is the case, take a small amount of conditioner in your hand and massage it gently into the bristles and rinse in lukewarm water and lay flat to dry. This will give the bristles a soft, velvety feel to them.

And there you have it, easy and inexpensive ways to make sure your makeup brushes are clean and well protected. Remember, cleaning your brushes is vital in helping preserve your makeup brushes. If you are uncertain which makeup brushes are worth investing in, check out our guide to the Top 10: Makeup Brushes to help your decide which brushes are right for you.

Profile photo of Marlena

CEO of Makeup Geek and Makeup Educator


Comments are now closed on this article.

I have to agree too that your makeup videos missed me too. I understand that you where at school in paris and want to have some rest to catch up with the jet lag and everything. But I hope we will have a brand new makeup tutorial soon! I can wait to see what you’ve learn at school! Take you time and we will be there waiting patiently for you! Much Luv from Canada! xxxxxx

Hello, I have to say of all the tutorials / articles I’ve read, seen out there in YouTube on this subject this has been this most informative, accurate, and the most sanitary educational pamphlet to refer to! Thank you so much!! I cannot tell you how important it is for me to know that there is someone like you passing out accurate information.

You see I am going to beauty school to be an Esthetician but my passion is, of course, make-up. I brought my own brushes in from home to be washes thoroughly. When I began washing them the way I learned from other makeup gurus which was similar minus two major things which according to my instructor is a good way to pass bacteria to clients. I noticed your way of cleaning brushes you said use sponges and rinsing the water as soon it is no longer clean is a good idea. I was taught to rinse them in bowels placing them in other bowl to be rinsed off once your done (that is if you have for than one life).

Please make new makeup videos(: They bring such joy to my life and can you do make up tutorials on darked skinned ppl plzz

Great tips! I get lazy sometimes and I know it’s not good for my brushes, so I have to stop being so lazy :/. lol
Rawrs, Evey

Great tips! I usually just use soap and warm water. I’ve been lazy lately though and it’s not good for my poor brushes :/ I need to stop being so lazy lol
Rawrs, Evey

I clean my face brushes once a week and the eyebrushes almost each evening. When i am lazy with the eyebrushes i use the MAC Cleanser but at least once a week a use a soap especially for brushes by a german brand called daVinci. It´s fabulous. It cleans the brushes so well and leaves them soft and with a light lemon scent.

It’s good to see you again in a video :)
Can’t wait to your next tutorial

Bonne journée ;)

Marlena , love the makeup in this tutorial , could you or would you do a makeup tutorial . I love this look . Thanks

I love your makeup tutorials and I only find you reliable to learn makeup techniques from. Thanks.

Hi Marlena!!!! im glad you re back,,,, because i miss soooo much your videos!!!
you look beautiful!!!

Marlena, please tell your going to do another tutorial. I missed you soo much. If it isnt soo much to ask can you have one out by this saturday on the Fruit Series please.

I’m really happy to see a video like this, finally :) I missed you too!

Can I ask what brand your lipstick or gloss is? That color is fantastic! I like that it’s a nice fuchsia but it’s not super in your face or jarring. Just fuchsia enough and just pink enough!

And btw, you are getting more stunning by the video! Sheesh. I think I have a girl crush on you :] Glad to see you are all better!

marelena you’re such an inspiration…i love watching your video’s…and i say you’re inspiration because i’ve been trying to get my career going as a freelance makeup artist and it’s been so tough so when i hear you say it’s taking you 4 years to get there it gives me hope. i feel like giving up sometimes but i know i shouldn’t do that…i know it takes time. so i will just keep on plugging away and hopefully i will be able to say what you say that my dream finally came true! god bless!

Hey marlena !!!!!
It’s lena again I just want to ask from Whr do u buy ur accessories specially ring I like it a lot the way u carry it and ur makeup I luv it can u show more technics regarding combination skin foundation routines as I have acne and uneven skin tone it vll be help for all of us who have acne and combination skin thanks for that

I always used the Mac makeup brush cleaner but still didn’t feel like my brushes were really clean. I tried your bar soap method and it worked great! :) They really seemed clean, almost like new again. I even tried it on my moms makeupbrushes. She loved it too! I was out rubbing alcohol so I wiped my brusheswith Clorox wipes. Clorox wipes really clean my makup box too. I can’t wait to try you’r sponge method. Thanks Marlena for your help and love of makeup! Continueto be Blessed !!

I usually use the antibacterial dish soap and evoo technique to clean my brushes, but I find it to be super time consuming and I’m not a fan of that greasy evoo feeling my brushes seem to have after I spend what seems like a lifetime rinsing them off. Last night, I tried the ivory soap technique and I noticed this morning when I went to check on my brushes that the black haired synthetic brushes I own from mac, sigma, e.l.f, and makeup geek were loosing their black color. The towel I had laid my brushes to dry on had black color transfer all over it, especially from under my favorite sigma brush. Any ideas as to why this has happened?

great tips, and i love your videos!!! I don’t know if anyone else does this but i use a soap called mona lisa pink brush soap that i buy at an art store to clean my brushes and it works great plus its really cheap.

Thank you so much for the tutorials! They are so informative. My daughter got a hold of my blending brush and my lip gloss and no matter how much I wash my brush is still sticky… Any ideas? Or should I say adios to my brush :(

I just cleaned all of my makeup brushes using the baby shampoo and sponge method and I was amazed at how quick and easy all of the product came out of the bristles! Took me about five minutes to clean them all, so super quick and I’ll be doing this weekly.

Try Dr Bronners bar soap (in baby mild formula) to clean those stained Beauty Blenders. I have found that it leaves mine looking brand new, even after using Revlon Color Stay. It’s about $3 a bar in Target. They keep it in the makeup section, not the hand soap section.