How to clean your makeup brushes: A Sunday Prep Blog

Sunday Afternoon

Some of my brushes

As mentioned, I am trying to start a Sunday Blog series, meant to be released when we all are working on our Sunday Prep for the week. Today is the first one if these “how to clean your ____” blogs, and the topic is one I will gladly rant your ear off about in person, as any of my friends can attest, yes, today we are discussing, why you should, and how you can, properly clean your makeup brushes, once a week. As any of my regular readers can probably vouch, I don’t often get to do these Sunday blogs, and I am hoping to change that, and considering how many pictures I took for this blog, yes, it was a tight race to get it finished in time to post. I hope you enjoy this blog post and find it helpful, informative, and useful.

Today, we are discussing how to clean your makeup brushes. 

First, a quick housekeeping matter.

First, the spelling of the word makeup, because I see it misspelled frequently, and this seems as good a time as any to discuss the differences.

Make up- Is when you need a make up exam, when you have missed something you need to make up.

It is also when you have “made up your mind”.

Versus makeup:

Makeup – when you wear a cosmetic on your face, or, perhaps your genetic makeup is so nice you don’t feel the urge.

Makeup, one word, denotes the stuff you put on your face, or, the stuff that makes you who you are, or, your makeup. “Abbi is always going to be sarcastic, it is part of her makeup.”

Some of my makeup brushes, pre cleaning.

Special props to my grandpa, (RIP) who rocked this coffee mug as a mug for years. Now it ironically holds my makeup brushes and yes, I miss him everyday.

Today, we will be discussing cleaning your makeup brushes.


Because why would you want to rub makeup on your face with dirty brushes? Not only are you smearing your old makeup and old oils and such from your face, but anything that has gotten on your makeup brushes while sitting waiting for use. Depending on how you store your brushes, where you store them, and any other number of environmental factors, you could get a ton of really gross stuff on your makeup brushes.

Imagine if you store your makeup brushes in a jar in your bathroom, and someone flushes the toilet without having the toilet seat down. (This is also why you should always keep both seats down: People, this solves the “I don’t want to put the seat back down, you don’t have to” disagreement, so do it for equality) If someone flushes, then all the germs in your toilet bowl are spewed everywhere, on all the available surfaces, which, depending on how you store you makeup brushes, includes the brushes you use to make yourself feel beautiful.

Basically, don’t make me come out and say it…But your brushes could be very nasty with even the best of intentions.

See, look at these little hairs. Marcie, my long hair Maine coon, is to blame, I know it.

If you have pets, those lovely little hairs could also have found a way onto the brushes.
If you have someone who sneezed, in the same room as your makeup brushes, you have those germs on them too. With the nasty colds that go around, why risk it?

Not to mention it can add more oil and bacteria to your skin, creating even more breakouts…and who needs that? Clean brushes can really help skin, in fact, cleaning your brushes once a week as highly advisable, same as changing your pillow case. If you struggle from acne, or just want to prevent it, or maybe just don’t like the idea of smearing germs on your face, then read on. It is super fast and NO you do NOT need any extra special stuff or cleansers to do It, no matter what beauty bloggers, vloggers, or makeup store commission based sales people try to tell you.

So, first, gather up your brushes. All of em. Even if you haven’t used em in a while, and maybe they are a little clean…They could have gathered any number of germs, so let’s clean em all, shall we?

I have known women who have a set of washcloths just for them to dry clean their brushes. Ladies, just clean the damn things properly once in a while, eh?

Now, there are several ways to clean your brushes. Many people are probably overly familiar with the first way we are all taught. Rubbing it as clean as you can get it into a dry towel, because you are currently trying to apply a different color.

Never let your brushes get to this point, but, I understand that it happens. To make the dry cleaning a bit more effective, clean your brushes weekly, or, if you are very low on brushes and change makeup colors daily, maybe consider washing them daily.

This is common with those of use who use lots of colored eyeshadows and change the look day to day. If this is your type of makeup use, consider washing these eyeshadow brushes every day, not only to help the dry cleaning while you are applying the makeup, but when considering how close to the eye, eyeshadow is used, you should truly consider cleaning eye makeup brushes on a daily basis to reduce chances of infection.

Now that we have gotten the “dry cleaning” method and discussion out of the way (Yes you can do it, but washing them makes that dry rub cleaning a bit more useful), how about we discuss how to wash your brushes?

Now, I know many people will talk about the many great uses of makeup brush cleansers, the special texture pads you can use to get them clean, and the many extra products you can use to keep your brushes in great shape.

I want you to wash your damn brushes, so I am going to present you with a cheap, do it at home, TODAY option.


I use this little cup for this method because I can see whats happening in the cup from the side.

Because I want you to wash your brushes. I have nothing to sell and nothing to gain, I just want you to be happy with your skin, and truly believe this is a great way to get there so, gather up those brushes and grab a cup. A plastic cup, a metal, a glass, a coffee mug even works. Any cup you can fit the head, or brush, part of your brushes into.
Grab whatever shampoo you trust on you own hair.

This is the shampoo I am currently using. I prefer the lavender scent but apparently a bunch of people new to the brand have been buying them at my local store so I am rocking jasmine.

Why? Because if your shampoo works well for your hair, it will likely work well for the hairs, real or otherwise, on your brushes. I have also used body soaps. It is worth mentioning that I have fairly high standards for the products I put into my hair, however, I have also used suave from Walmart, and it all works.

You just need some soap. Some use dawn dish soap. I’ve yet to see a kind of soap that doesn’t work nicely.

Put a dab of the soap in the bottom. If the brushes are really dirty, I will swish the brush around in the soap, adding just a little bit of warm water, slowly, to build up the lather, before filling the cup and using it like a small wash basin, swishing the makeup brushes around.

You will see the water become cloudy and the same color as the makeup you are removing from the brushes. Rinse the brush out the same way you washed, minus the soap, and be sure to run the brush under the water to ensure all soap and products are removed. For heavily soiled brushes, you make have to do multiple washings, but it is worth it for a clean brush.

So, when you are done washing, shake out the brush, and if you want, use a clean, dry, towel to remove excessive moisture from the brush, and then either hang the brush on a towel rack or some other spot that is similar in design, or, upside down in a cup. I prefer the former method, as it allows you to have the brushes hanging head down, to remove the most moisture without allowing any of it to linger and breed bacteria. Placing them upside down in the cup works nearly as well, as long as you give them a good dry off to remove the excess moisture first.

If you want an easy way to hang your brushes, then you came to the right photo heavy blog. This gallery should outline how to hang your brushes using a hair tie, as seen in the pictures below.

It should go without saying, but also make sure these brushes are drying in a reasonably clean place.

When you hang your brushes like this, you can alternate the heads to the brush hair’s are not touching, and can fully dry. Most towel racks are in bathrooms and across from toilets, so close your damn toilet lid.

See related: Close your damn toilet lid. (Remember, earlier, the germs? Equality? Do it.) I may make a whole blog about this, or maybe just include it in my “how to clean your bathroom” blog, should I ever make one like that.

Now, no true lesson in makeup brush cleaning would be complete without discussing cleaning the beauty blender. Some people love them, some don’t. I personally, am new to the beauty blender, having only just recently figuring out why they weren’t working for me. Apparently beauty blenders/sponges are meant to be used wet, and when I tried that, I became a HUGE lover of my beauty blender, so, now I don’t wash my beauty blender until right before I use it, to have it be wet. So, if you want to wash your blender the night before, be prepared to rewet it in the morning, or just wash it in the morning. I try to wash all my brushes on Sunday as part of my weekly prep, and I’ll wash my heavily used brushes, like my banana powder brush, every night, if time allows.

If you follow the blog at all, you know that I tend to run out of time. But, once a week, at least, I wash all brushes, my sponge gets washed before every use to get it wet, and my daily use brushes are washed every day if time allows.

Anyways, this is a brief little lesson on cleaning your brushes, why it’s important and how to do it, but before we close, let’s discuss some bonus materials.

First, some people use makeup brush cleanser. These are formulated for removing makeup and bacteria from your brushes and work wonderfully. Can you also use other soaps? Yes. Does the makeup brush cleanser in a bottle work better? Eh, that is for every person to decide. I personally don’t see much of a difference with the cleansers themselves.

I do see a major difference when using a texture pad (cleaning pad), or some other cleaning assistance.

I got the cleanser I am currently using from the store where I work. I am an accountant there, but we have some of the very best makeup professionals in the special FX business, so I got Katie, a good friend, to recommend a cleaner for me, and she suggested this one.

This is the groovy stuff I use. I have no idea what it costs and I got it on discount. Incredibly obvious but, NOT SPONSORED.

The cleaner works well, and it feels like a shaving soap bar so I love the entire feel and use of it, it isn’t as messy and you feel like you get more use out of it that way.

The big game changer for it though, and the reason I will be keeping this container and probably making my own soap bars for the makeup brushes in the future, is the top of the container, with some texture to help clean the brushes. It helps remove the build up quickly and leaves them so clean, so fast, that this game changer was amazing.

This is my container I plan on reusing because it is great and the cleaning pad is awesome. Of course when I started shooting pictures for this blog I learned the cleaning pad is removable, but still, it is a great container that doesn’t get smooshed in my bag when I travel either. Then I make sure to have clean brushes on the trip too!

But don’t worry, you don’t need access to a makeup store or even money, to get your own assistance in cleaning your brushes. Plenty of Pinterest friendly bloggers will show you, and I will gladly tell you, there is little you can’t do with a glue gun.

Take any old piece of plastic you are no longer using or want to up-cycle, and grab a hot glue gun. Squeeze your glue in whichever textures you like best, I would suggesting alternating direction lines and spots with small dots, to allow for several textures to really clean each part of the brush.

As anyone who has looked closely at a makeup brush can tell you, the brushes have subtle and small changes in size and shape that allow for perfect applications, and all these nooks and crannies need to be cleaned. The texture allows them to be cleaned faster than hot water and soap alone, and with greater thoroughness.

But hot water, soap, and even your finger tips, can do the trick, so please don’t think that a lack of a glue gun means you can’t wash your makeup brushes.

Anything you can do to remove the old product and bacteria from your brushes will do good for your skin, and will likely make you feel like you have a little more control over your life…And you will also notice an increased control over your makeup applications, with cleaner, better lines and smoother blends. A clean brush leads to a clean application, and, most importantly, clean, happy, skin. 

Have a wonderful Sunday!



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