Makeup Brush Cleaning – Tips

Makeup Brush Cleaning Tips

| Affiliate Links |

Ahh the dreaded job of cleaning makeup brushes, I know everybody puts it off but today I’m going to take you through some makeup brush cleaning tips to make the job that little bit less of a chore, some products that I love to help get the job done and the best way to care for your brushes to ensure longevity.

Have you ever considered just how much dirt and bacteria lives in your makeup brushes? It’s often easier to not think about it right? Well, let’s think for a moment about the fact that we use our brushes to apply makeup to blemishes, to blend liquid and cream product around our noses and mouths and to apply eyeshadow to our eyes. That a lot of places to both pick up and spread germs and bacteria. Yikes. So, it will come as no surprise that I’m a big advocate of cleaning our makeup brushes regularly and in this current climate, the message couldn’t be firmer.

Cleaner brushes equal better makeup application, less chance of clogging pores with any dirt, dust and or bacteria from dirty brushes and well looking after our skin health and health overall. So, let’s get washing…

*This post contains affiliate links which help cover the running costs of the website at no cost to yourself. If you’d like to learn more about this please see my ‘Disclaimer’ page. Posts are not affiliate driven.

How Often Is Often?

Makeup brushes that you use for personal use you should aim to clean once a week.

If you are a professional makeup artist, brushes should be cleaned for each client. No question about it.

Product Choice

The market is awash with makeup brush cleaning products which while great, can be a little overwhelming when all we want is a cleaner that does the job, right?

Essentially there are two types of cleaning products. Those that fall into a ‘spot wash‘ category and those that belong in the ‘deep wash‘ one. Let’s delve into the differences.

Spot Wash Cleansers

These types of makeup brush cleaners are designed for quick clean ‘on the go’. First developed for makeup artists on set who needed to quickly clean brushes between looks, these types of products work to remove makeup and the liquid then evaporates quickly. Dry brushes are coated, either by spraying with or dipping into the cleansing liquid, excess product and makeup removed on a paper towel (see cleaning technique below) and left to dry.

Pros: Fast and pretty effortless. Cons: Some of these products over time can be drying to bristles if they have a high alcohol content.

Some of my favourite:

Mac Makeup Brush cleaner

Mac Brush Cleanser £10.00


Parian Spirt makeup brush cleaner
Parian Spirit

Parian Spirit £8.00


Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner
Cinema Secrets

Cinema Secrets Professional Brush Cleaner Spray £7.50

Deep Cleaning/Wash

Brush cleaning soaps, whether solid or liquid are used in a traditional ‘deep wash’ with water. They tend to be gentle and effective.

Pros: they last a long time and tend to be cost-effective. Cons: It takes longer for the brushes to dry.

Some of my favourite:


Dr Bronner's Soap
Dr Bronner’s Bar Soap 99.9% anti-bacterial

Dr Bronner’s All In One Soap £5.35


Bdeuillium Tools Brush soap
Bdeullium Tools Brush Soap

Bdellium Tools Cosmetic Cleaner £16.00


BeautyBlender Solid Soap
Beauty Blender Solid Soap

BeautyBlender Solid Soap £15.00

Dr Bronner's Soap
Dr Bronner’s Liquid Soap, fair trade, natural

Dr Bronner’s Liquid Soap £9.95

Do I Have To Buy A Specific Brush Cleaner?

You can wash your makeup brushes with baby shampoo which is gentle for your brushes or dish soap/fairy liquid if needed (to remove heavy set product-see below) or choose a specific brush soap.

Is There A Type Of Product That Is The Best?

Honesty, the product that makes you wash your brushes most often is the one that’s best for you! If you are someone who loves to invest in multiple products then go for it, if baby shampoo is your favourite then stick with that, cleaning and cleaning well is what is of most importance.

I personally prefer a solid soap for deep cleans. My favourite being Dr Bonner’s which is 99.9% anti-bacterial. It is kind to my brushes and cleans effectively. I also prefer that with a solid soap the suds wash away more quickly, meaning less time rinsing.

Certain products are harder to shift than others and need something to break down the grease. This tends to be lipstick. So I like to use fairy liquid to wash my lip brushes for this reason.

Brush Washing Technique

Who knew there was such a thing eh? Well, if you’re anything like me (that is, that your makeup brushes are like children to you) then you will understand the need to treat them well.

You need:

  • Soap/cleaner of choice
  • Towel
Makeup brush cleaning setup - Sink, soap ready.
Makeup brush cleaning setup: Soap of choice (Dr Bronner’s in this case), brush cleaning mat (using your hand works just as well)

Ensure that your water is warm, not hot. If the water is too hot it can melt the glue in the ferrule (the part which holds all the bristles together) and lead to them falling out over time.

Dirty makeup brushes with wet heads ready to be cleaned
Dirty brushes, wet, ready to be cleaned
  1. Wet all of your brush heads, keeping the brush end pointing downwards (trying not to let water soak up the brush for the same reason as above).
  2. Run the brush head over the soap a few times till it is filled with product. On clean hands, or on a brush matt, gently massage the soap into the brush to create a lather.
  3. Rinse clean.
  4. Repeat if necessary.
    Washing makeup brushes using soap and water
    Wet brush head, gently massage soap through bristles, rinse with warm water
  1. Ensure you are drying your brushes flat, don’t stand your wet brushes upright in a brush holder (as the water will seep up into the ferrule and brush handle).
  2. Reshape brush head using your hand, dry handle if necessary and lay flat.
    Makeup brush cleaning: reshape brush heads and allow to air dry
    Reshape brush heads and allow to air dry
Spot Wash Cleaning

While spot wash cleaning is fast and effective you should still do a thorough deep clean often. Here are some tips for spot cleaning your brushes.

You need:

  • Cleaner of choice
  • Kitchen roll/paper towel
  1. Spray or dip the bristles of your brush with your chosen cleaner, ensuring it is thoroughly coated in product.
  2. Gently run the brush over a piece of kitchen roll/paper towel.
  3. Repeat until all makeup is removed.
  4. Allow to air dry on a towel.
    Makeup Brush Cleaning - Spot cleaning technique by dipping a brush in liquid cleanser
    Spot cleaning technique
  • You’ve had brushes fall apart: if the bristles fall out then it may be that the glue has worn down or melted in the ferrule over time and/or due to improper washing. This is why I’m not a fan of soaking brushes in water or using water that is too hot. Also, remember to be gentle when washing your brushes. Washing too vigorously and being a little rough can damage to shape of the brush heads and loosen the hold of the bristles in the glue.
  • Your bristles are splayed once dried: simply dampen and wrap the brush head with some kitchen roll to reshape.
  • Your brush handles are wooden and are chipping: you need to ensure you are wiping the handles dry after washing.
  • You’re struggling to get product out of brushes: compacted foundation brushes (think kabuki brush) can be particularly tricky for this. It is a case of ensuring you are massaging the soap into the brush well and repeating the soap/rinse process. If the makeup is being extra stubborn, it may be because it is oil/grease based product and therefore this is where fairy liquid can come in handy to break this down (think lipsticks).
Squeaky Clean

And that my friends really is it! Once you get into a routine of makeup brush cleaning, it’s all a little less daunting. Spot cleaning brush cleansers are great to have on your makeup desk for a quick clean when you’re desperate for that spritely Mac 217 to blend your perfect smokey eye and a beloved brush soap sat in the bathroom ready and waiting for your weekly cleanse. That’s how I do it anyway.

When our brushes are dirty it doesn’t just affect our skin and harbour germs but also our makeup application. If a brush is full of product then our looks can appear muddy when previous makeup messes together with the new we have just applied. So, without wanting to sound like a brush cleaning mum, it really is worth it all round.

Let’s be extra hygienic, especially right now, but gentle on our beloved brushes at the same time.

Happy washing folks 😉

Makeup Brush Cleaning Tips! In need to update your brush cleaning routine? Or perhaps learn from scratch? Well this post has all the answers for you!
Don’t forget to pin this post to Pinterest via this image!


I’ve popped a quick ‘how to’ on my instagram stories and saved it to my highlights, just look under ‘Brush cleaning’ @amyschapter

Looking for exciting newness in the world of vegan beauty? Then check out this post!


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.