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How To Clean Makeup Brushes,
Beauty Blenders, and More

February 5, 2020


When was the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes, sponges, and beauty blenders? For too many of us, it may have been a couple of months ago, last year…or maybe never! But if you are a professional makeup artist, you probably cleaned them yesterday. The pros clean their makeup brushes and other beauty tools thoroughly every day. You wouldn’t tackle your housekeeping with dirty cleaning tools, so why would you use dirty makeup brushes on your face?

According to the pros, cleaning your makeup brushes, sponges, and other cosmetic applicators regularly prevents the growth of bacteria and keeps your applicators working like they should. Taking care of your beauty blenders and makeup brushes helps you take proper care of your cosmetics, too, as it minimizes the spread of bacteria and to prevent the makeup formulas from breaking down.

Read on to find out why, when, and how to clean makeup brushes, blenders, and sponges like the pros.

How To Wash Makeup Brushes

How often should I clean my makeup brushes?

Most dermatologists recommend you clean your makeup tools—especially foundation and concealer brushes—weekly to prevent product and bacteria buildup. Because we use makeup brushes and applicators on our face’s delicate skin, the cleaner you can get them, the better, says Bobbi Brown. “Brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month,” she says. “All others can be washed once a month.”

“Brush hairs and sponges are porous, so they hold on to oils, debris and bacteria,” says pro makeup artist Ashleigh B. Ciucci. “If your brushes are dirty, your application will be spotty and blending will be difficult. For face brushes like foundation, concealer, or powder, you should be cleaning them once a week. For eye brushes or brushes that you’re using for different shades, clean in between uses.”

What do I use to clean my makeup brushes?

While there’s no shortage of commercial products for maintaining and cleaning makeup brushes and applicators, the pros tell us that DIY cleaning solutions are more than up to the task. One of the most popular and effective methods for cleaning your makeup tools requires only water and a gentle cleanser.

Especially important for brushes made with natural bristles, soaps and shampoos with harsh cleansers can break down bristles. For a DIY solution, mix one part baby shampoo to four parts water. Ciucci recommends using a moisturizing shampoo for a deep clean. “For really dirty brushes, you can apply the shampoo directly to the wet bristles and massage.”

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Dish soap is also a popular option; makeup artists like Avendaño believe it helps lift away stubborn foundation from bristles. Many makeup artists like to wash their brushes with their favorite face wash, too.

How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes In 8 Easy Steps

  1. Wet the bristles thoroughly with warm water
  2. Place a drop of your makeup brush cleanser into the palm of your hand.
  3. Gently massage the tips of the bristles in your palm using a swirling motion.
  4. Rinse the bristles with warm water.
  5. Disinfect your brushes by swirling them around for two minutes in a bowl with two parts water and one part vinegar. Be careful to not submerge any part of the ferrule or handle. 
  6. Gently squeeze out excess moisture with a clean towel.
  7. Reshape the brush head by gently shaping the bristles from the base to the brush tips. 
  8. Dry the brush with its bristles hanging off the edge of a counter so they maintain their shape. Never let your brushes dry on a towel—that’s how they end up mildewed

While you’re cleaning your makeup brushes, keep the base of the brush head away from soap and water. The bristles are glued to the base, and water and detergent can cause the glue to weaken and bristles to shed. 

When Should I Replace My Makeup Brushes?

Even when you know how to clean makeup brushes and do so regularly, they all need replacing at some point. According to, Natural-hair brushes can last for many years if taken care of properly. Synthetic brushes last only about a year and need to be cleaned at least twice a week.

“It’s time to toss your makeup brush when the bristles start to fray, shed or lose their shape,” says Brown. “I can’t emphasize enough that the right tools are as important in getting the look you want as the actual makeup itself. If your brushes become too pinched or squashed, then they simply will not be up to the job.”

How To Clean Beauty Blenders and Sponges

Should I Clean Or Replace Beauty Blenders And Makeup Sponges?

Regular makeup sponges aren’t meant to be reused, but there are plenty of beauty blenders and makeup sponges that are—and they’re not cheap! If you want to make the most of your beauty budget and prevent germs, you need to know how to clean beauty blenders and sponges. That means making sure you clean your sponges and beauty blenders at least once a week.

How To Clean A Beauty Blender Or Makeup Sponge

  1. Soak the sponge with warm water. 
  2. Place a couple drops of your makeup cleanser onto the sponge or blender. Work the makeup and dirt out of the sponge with your fingers.
  3. Rinse the sponge while squeezing out all the suds until the water runs clear. If you still have buildup, repeat step two.
  4. Wring out the sponge and pat dry with a clean towel. Allow your sponges and blenders to air dry. 

Keep your makeup sponges in excellent condition and reduce the risk of mold and bacteria by cleaning them after every few uses. Make sure you are cleaning your makeup sponges every few uses for optimal results.

How To Keep Your Cosmetics Clean and Healthy

Now that you know how to clean beauty blenders, sponges, and makeup brushes, don’t forget about the makeup itself. Bacteria and mold can grow in cosmetics and may cause a range of skin reactions, from inflammation to infections. Be aware that expired makeup can make things even worse.

Before removing or applying makeup, wash your hands with soap and water to minimize the transfer of germs. Once a week, disinfect the edge of jars, tubes and caps, and remove excess product on the edges. For powdered cosmetics like blush and eyeshadow, use latex sponges or disposable applicators to prevent sebum and other contaminants from getting into the powder.

If you use serums or creams in jars, avoid touching the contents with your fingers. Use a small plastic putty knife to scoop out the makeup or moisturizer to prevent the risk of transferring bacteria from your fingers. Keep jars, tubes and bottles sealed tightly to avoid prolonged contact with air that can break down makeup formulas.

Make cleaning your makeup brushes, beauty blenders, and cosmetics a regular part of your beauty routine. You’ll spend less money on makeup applicators and makeup because they’ll last longer, your skin will be cleaner and healthier, and you’ll get the most out of your beauty routine.

Clean Makeup Tools Mean Healthier Skin and Better Beauty

The most important reason to clean your makeup brushes and other applicators is for better hygiene. There are numerous stories floating around about everyday folks getting an infection or rash from dirty makeup brushes or cosmetics. Professional makeup artists understand the dangers of dirty beauty tools and keep disposable applicators like cotton swabs, cotton pads and single-use mascara wands on hand as backups.

Most of us keep our makeup in our bathroom—but the humid conditions are horrible for cosmetics and even the cleanest bathroom harbors lots of bacteria. Because bacteria thrive in warm, humid conditions, cosmetics should be stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight or other heat sources. Think of a closet, or even a drawer in your bedroom. Since the ideal temperature for cosmetics like lotions and creams is around 49 degrees Fahrenheit, your fridge is another option for keeping cosmetics safe and sanitary.

Clean makeup brushes and cosmetics simply produce better beauty results. “Would you trust a painter to paint the walls of your interiors with a dirty brush? I’d sure hope not,” Dominique Lerma, the executive makeup artist for Royal & Langnickel, says. “Makeup artists cannot create a perfect canvas with subpar tools.”

Clean your makeup brushes and sponges regularly and they’ll last longer and perform better. Store cosmetics correctly for longer shelf life and better results. Take care of your makeup gear so you can hang on to your favorite brushes longer and create a more beautiful you.

Knowing how to clean makeup brushes and sponges, is only a small part of a sparkling home. Contact The Maids to learn more about what we can do for you, as well as arrange a cleaning service to help you create your ideal living space.

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