Makeup brushes can be a treasure trove of dirt, bacteria, oils, and makeup residue. If you’re using a dirty makeup brush on your face, you run the risk of clogging up your pores and, worse maybe even getting a staph infection (though we’ll be honest, that’s pretty rare).But a dirty makeup brush is less effective because your makeup won’t be applied evenly across your cheekbones, forehead, etc. And a dirty makeup brush can cause the bristles to quickly break down or fray.

Luckily, cleaning a makeup brush doesn’t require more than the items you already have at your home.

This post covers how to clean makeup brushes in 5 easy steps. Plus, we answer some commonly asked questions about cleaning your makeup brush (like, can you really use dish soap?).

1. Wet the Brush Bristles

You want to wet the brush bristles with warm water. If you use cold water, your bristles won’t wash as well. Think of it as cold water causing the bristles to contract and lukewarm water causing them to expand or loosen, so you can better clean them.


Brush Cleaning Pro-Tip: As reported in Organic Beauty Report, a blog focused on natural beauty tips, you want to make sure you don’t wet the barrel or handle of your makeup brush. f you do, dry it quickly with a towel because soap and water can recede the handle’s material and even cause bristle shedding.

2. Lather the Bristles with Soap/Brush Cleanser

Drop some soap or brush cleanser in your palm. Take your brush and swirl it around the drop of soap. Do this gently. You shouldn’t feel like you’re twisting or pulling your brush but instead massaging it.

The idea here is to do a deep clean – not just the top of the brush or the exteriors. You really want to get your fingers inside the brush and make sure the soap is getting all of the bristles.

What Kind of Soap Works Best for Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes?

There is no shortage of brush cleansers on the market, but you can also use simple and affordable dishwashing liquids. Thick soap works better than watery soap because thick soap de-grease as it cleans. 

3. Rinse the Bristles 

After you’ve lathered and massaged the brush bristles with your soap of choice, it’s time to rinse out the bristles with lukewarm water.

Here, you want to repeat the cleaning motion (massaging and being thorough with your fingers) that you used to lather up your makeup brush.

A good rule of thumb: two minutes lathering up your brush, and then spend as much time as needed to rinse the bristles. (To tell that all the soap is out, just run water over your brush and see if it comes out clear and soap bubble free.)

4. Squeeze Out the Water 

As you rinse out the bristles, form the makeup brush back into its original shape. 

To clarify: as you massaged your brush in step two, you likely contorted the original shape of your brush out of whack. That’s perfectly normal, but you don’t want your brush to dry in an awkward way.

In this step, you want to make sure the brush goes back to looking like a makeup brush.

5. Let the Brush Dry

Once you have squeezed out the water and formed your brush back into its shape (keep in mind it won’t look perfect because it’s wet), it’s time to dry your brush.

Don’t force your makeup brush dry with paper towels or a bath towel.

Instead, balance your makeup brush on your bathroom counter or your vanity so its bristles are not touching anything. You don’t want the wet brush to dry pushed up against the counter because then it’ll dry in the wrong shape.

It can be tricky to balance a brush so the bristles aren’t touching anything. To make it easier, you can put something heavy on the brush’s barrel (like a blow dryer or hair straightener) and let the bristles hang over the bathroom counter. 

And voila, just like you’ve cleaned your makeup brush!

An Alternate DIY Brush Cleaning Method

If you want to do something a little more special than just using dish soap, follow the steps below. 

You’ll need three items:

  • Dawn antibacterial dishwashing soap
  • Olive Oil
  • A plate or platter

Take the Dawn soap and pour some on the left side of a plate. Then take the olive oil and pour it on the right side of the plate. You want the two liquids to meet in the middle. There, you apply your brush to the mixture.

Simply follow the steps above (lather, rinse, squeeze out all liquids, form back into its shape, and let the makeup brush air dry).

The idea with this DIY method is that Olive Oil works as an extra de-greasing agent because it’s so thick. 

Keep in mind, when you’re using this method to clean your brush, you’ll likely need to spend a little longer rinsing out your makeup brush to make sure the oil has washed away.


We know that cleaning your makeup brush isn’t the first priority on your list, but it’s important. We even added it to our list of grooming tips to follow during the COVID 19 quarantine

It doesn’t just keep your brush in condition – which is important in its own right – but it also helps you keep your face clean and apply makeup more evenly.

Without cleaning your makeup brush, things like oils, bacteria, grease, lotion, and makeup residue will collect and harden your brush’s bristles.

By following our 5 steps above, you can easily clean your makeup brush and make it brand new.


Can You use Dawn Dish Soap to Clean Makeup Brushes?

Yes, you can use Dawn Dish Soap to clean your makeup brushes.

Dawn dish soap can clean your bristles without risking any damage to your makeup brush because of its anti-greasing properties.

Remember, with soap, a little goes a long way. You can always add more soap, but it can take you a long time to rinse it clean if you over-lather your brush.

How Often Should You Clean Your Makeup Brush?

The answer is going to depend on how often you use your makeup brush, but a good rule of thumb is once a week.

We like to clean ours on Sunday, so we don’t have to worry about our makeup brush throughout the workweek.

It’s important to clean your makeup brush so the bristles don’t dry up or get caked with makeup, oils, and other residues.


Comments are closed.