What is your current brush cleaning routine like?

I try to wash my brushes at least once a week, if not two to three times a week (depending on how many brushes I used that particular week). I’m fortunate that I have quite a few brushes, so I go a week without washing and still have clean ones to reach for. I have come to prefer starting with mostly clean brushes for almost all applications (the only brush that I’ll reuse a few times are ones for setting or finishing powder). I use Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap (baby kind) mixed with water, and then I dip just the brush head into the solution, run it across the palm of my hand to work out makeup, and then rinse until clean. Then I set the brushes on a towel to dry, and since the towel also props them off the counter, I usually align the brush heads to sit slightly over the edge of the towel (so they can air dry all the way around the brush head).

— Christine

41 Comments

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Tracey E. Avatar

I use Bobbi Brown’s Brush Spray as my day-to-day brush cleaner, particularly brushes that I’ve used for liquid or cream products. I don’t have an extensive brush collection, so I tend to wash these brushes every few days, This involves spraying product onto a tissue and running the brushes through the cleaning agent, laying them flat to dry on a towel. For brushes that need a deep clean, I use Bobbi Brown’s Brush Shampoo, which acts as you describe your cleansing above, I use brush nets to keep the brush shape whenever they are damp and drying. I lay them to dry on a towel, but like your practice of hanging them over the edge of a towel. For eye shadow brushes, I’ve been using a black hair donut to remove shadows between application. Some brushes that uses powder products seem to go longer between any form of cleaning: blush/highlight brushes, powder/finishing brushes, buffing brushes, and eyebrow shading brushes. I use the Bobbi Brown spray on these every so often or more frequently if I tend to use a brush more often than others (e.g. the Charlotte Tilbury powder and sculpt brush).

I’m starting to use my Wayne Goss brush collection, which has a different suggested cleaning timeframe as they are all natural, so we’ll see what that looks like.

Amy Avatar

Any brush that goes into cream products will get a deep clean after every use. With powder brushes, I’ll get a few uses out of them with a deep clean at the end of each week. My silicone liner brush gets used for pinpoint concealing and I wash that at the end of each use as well.

I use baby shampoo to wash. I pour out a little into a dish that I got from Ikea that I think was originally made to hold little flower pots. It has a lace cutout border that works really well to get the gunk out of brushes when you rub the brushes in that area. I rinse in lukewarm water, shake out/wring out as much water as I can, reshape, and then lay flat on a towel that I roll up from one side so that the brushes are at a downward angle.

Christy Avatar

I use a spray brush cleaner and wipe on a towel most days, but for a deep clean I put a small amount of water and a few drops of lingerie soap in each of the wells in a muffin tin (depth depends on the brushes I am washing), then swirl and tap each brush in a few of the wells successively until it seems like most of the makeup is out. Then I rinse by doing the same thing but with fresh water and no soap–swirl in a few different wells until there is no more soap in the brush. It works really nicely and makes it easy not to get water above the spot where the ferrule meets the brush. I clip each brush with a clothespin and cantilever them to hang upside down over the edge of a table overnight to dry. (Each clothespin is at a right angle to a brush–I put the clothespins flat on a table and set a heavy-ish book on top of the ends of the clothespins.)

Linda Avatar

Clean most of my brushes on Sundays with Beauty Blender Solid – life changer, gets those whites white! (clean beauty blenders more frequently but I have 3 so I do rotate out of laziness).

Momo Avatar

My brush collection is sizable; somewhere around 90…and growing. I know, I know. That’s a lot of brushes for just one face, but they’re mostly eyeshadow brushes (which I use quite frequently). It’s difficult to clean them all in one sitting, so I often spot-clean until I have the time to do a full wash and dry.

SPOT-CLEAN METHOD:
• I simply swirl the brush clean on a lint-free makeup remover wipe or baby/sanitary wipe. The brushes are damp for a moment, but they dry quickly.
• I store my brushes in a few metal mesh pen/pencil holders. I sometimes lightly, but quickly, swirl my eyeshadow brushes along the mesh and it actually removes eyeshadow from the bristles. This is very convenient for when I need to use the same brush for a different eyeshadow color, or if I need to clean the brush to do some blending.

FULL WASH & DRY METHOD:
• Brush cleanser: a simple mix of 1 part virgin olive oil to two parts dish detergent (Dawn).
• I dip the brush into the cleanser. I don’t need a lot because the cleanser is very powerful.
• I then swirl the saturated brush in the palm of my hand; adding a few drops of cool water to create suds. I work the brush around and around, creating a ballerina tutu-like shape with the bristles, in order to first loosen up the buildup. The suds take on the pigment of whatever buildup that had been attached to the brushes’ bristles.
• Whilst swirling the brush in my palm, I then run my hand & brush (back and forth) under cool water. Never hot water! The aim is to essentially wash away most of the pigmented suds, while waiting for white suds to appear. White suds = a clean brush.
It’s like washing relaxer/perm out of your hair: you need to see white suds before moving on to the next step. Lol ?
• I thoroughly rinse the brush completely clean under cool water, whilst smoothing the bristles back into place. I then pinch the excess water from the bristles. Next, I compress the bristles with a sheet of paper towel to remove any additional water.
• I slide a makeup brush guard/mesh sleeve over the brush to protect and properly align the bristles while it air-dries.
• I position my brushes to dry upside-down. I either place them in a clean cup, or affix them, with a rubber band, to a rod.
• Drying time varies (dependent on climate/season/room temperature). I give my brushes between 8 – 12 hours to air-dry.

As an alternative to using my palm to clean the brushes, I use a heavy-duty, plastic, holiday serving tray which has many and various sized mounds and crevasses to its bottom layer. I can get a really great scrub and rinse of my bristles (especially for my larger brushes) by using this on-hand dinnerware item. The key is merely finding something in your home that’s waterproof and very textural to run your brushes over. Or you could buy a makeup brush silicone washing glove.

Nancy T Avatar

Oh, this is embarrassing territory for me because I know I’m lazy as sin when it comes to having a regular brush cleaning routine. But when I do, I mix equal parts of coconut oil with Suave Clarifying shampoo together, take some between my fingers and work it into each brush’s bristles to loosen up the product trapped in there that regular spot cleaning on a cloth hasn’t gotten out, after all of them are done, I rinse them, gently blot them with paper towels, and lay them on a clean towel to dry. But I honestly hate washing my brushes!

pePear Avatar

I clean all of my brushes once per week except my foundation brushes I wash it every two or three days with Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner until it clean and then wash it again with normal water and let’s them dry on my Brush Trees. I also love Bobbi Brown Conditioning Brush Cleaner but they’re pretty pricey one.

Astrild Avatar

I don’t wear eyeshadow on a daily basis, apart from Painterly paintpot to even out my eyelid’s skintone, so the mayority of the brushes I use are for the face. I clean them once a week. Firstly, I clean most of the product from my Foundation, concealer and cream eyeshadow brushes with and oil base makeup remover. After that, I clean all my brushes with a coconut oil bar soap and let it dry upside down in a brush holder.

Donna Avatar

I wash mine the exact same way you do, but I dry them differently. I have some flat clothes hangers from Ikea and I use some very small ponytail elastics. I put the brush handle in one, put the brush handle against the hanger, and then stretch the elastic around the back of the hanger and pull it over the the top end of the brush handle. I then hang the hanger full of brushes on a shower rod. Never get any water still in the ferrule that way. I’ll send you a photo.

Nicole Avatar

I usually wash my brushes that I have used during the week on the weekend (Typically Sunday) with the exception of my Japanese and finer brushes . I prefer to was those only once a month (if that often) if they see only powder products, cream produtcts will be washed once a week. I kinda gauge it on usage: I have go-to brushes that I use every day and a few different cheek brushes ,for instance, so those see powder. I don’t wash them but every couple of weeks. I use the Dr. Bronner’s too which I switched to after reading about it on Temptalia. Prior to that I used baby shampoo and I do notice the Bronner’s to get my brushes cleaner easier. But, it needs diluted a lot or it will leave a film. I do reuse most of my brushes even though I have a ton. I wipe them in between uses with a water only baby wipe and/or tissue. I use the same method Christine mention basically. I used to try to hang the brushes upside down. But, I just found it tedious and really no difference.

Laura Avatar

I wash my eye brushes about twice a week and my face brushes once a week. I use a gentle sulfate free shampoo (same one I use on my color treated hair) and follow with a deep conditioner on my natural hair brushes. For synthetic brushes I use basic dye free dish soap (because I generally use synthetic brushes with cream products, so I need a bit more cleaning power). If my synthetic brushes seem stiff I use a lightweight conditioner on them.

Jip Avatar

Due to skin issues, I usually clean my brushes after I use them.

Enkore brush cleaner for powders, and Temptu airbrush cleaner folled by Enkore Formula for oil based products.

Once every few weeks, the brushes are washed with body wash.

Sponges (Beauty Blender) type are cleaned with body wash after each use..

Cyndi C Avatar

My routine is very similar to yours, Christine, except I use three different products. For my synthetic brushes, I use Cinema Secrets brush cleaner. It literally sucks the makeup out of the brush. The one exception to that rule is my Marc Jacobs brushes. Although they are synthetic, the cinema secrets turned the bristles blue on my one brush. I think it’s because they are antibacterial. It came out with the beauty blender solid cleanser thank goodness. My natural hair brushes, I use Mac brush cleaner. I’ve used it for probably 25 years and my oldest brushes are like new condition

Rachel R. Avatar

I use Bhcosmetics BH Studio Pro Makeup Brush Cleaner after every use. I wash anything heavily soiled with e.l.f. Brush Shampoo and warm water. I try to wash all my brushes once a week. I let just the bristles (not the ferrells!) soak in warm water with a little of the e.l.f. Brush Shampoo. Then I wash in warm water and rinse. If they need a little scrubbing, I use the little sample Sigma sent out of their Cleaning Glove. I blot dry with a soft towel, reshape the bristles with my fingers, and then lay them out on paper towels to dry. I let the bristles hang over the edge of the table.

FacesByCarmilla Avatar

I wash every Sunday while I watch my favorite show. I use Bobbi Brown cleaner or baby shampoo. I have an extensive collection so I hang some in the brush tree and the others I lay flat on a towel rolled up to elevate.

Donna Avatar

Looks like we have the same brush cleanning routine. I keep my used brushes separate, and keep the fluid brushes separate from the powder brushes. I clean the powder brushes first, then the fluid brushes (foundation, concealer, primer brushes). I start with Bobbi Brown’s brush cleaner, mixed with very hot water, then I use a facial cleanser for the fluid brushes, they seem to need it, and I use the facial cleanser on white brushes stained with pigment, can’t stand a stained brush. I rinse in a bowl of clean water and running water. We are fortunate to not have a water shortage. When traveling, I usually wash my brushes every three days because I do not have as many.

Flaky Avatar

Daily, I do a quick clean by spritzing a paper towel with rubbing alcohol and gently swirling the brush on it to clean.
I do almost the same weekly clean as Christine, only I change up the dr bronners fragrance periodically. I have a whole bunch of 2 oz travel sizes in almost all the fragrances (ps the rose fragrance makes an awesome shower gel)

Kathy Smith-Woodcock Avatar

I use cinema secrets on a paper towel to spot clean during the week esp with powder products. I clean weekly approx, with Beauty blender solid or the sephora dupe. I find it works thoroughly and quickly, I hate it!!!

Morgan Avatar

Before, I deep-cleansed my brushes once a week, and then my MAC 188 came apart after the glue came loose. I know for a fact that none of my brushes are older than 2012 because my brushes were stolen on vacation then and I had to replace all of them that year. So this brush didn’t even last 3 years, and MAC brushes are supposed to last “a lifetime.” I was so mad, and the people at MAC said I “washed my brushes too frequently.”

Now, if a brush looks or feels gross, I will quick clean it with a brush cleanser and paper towel. I only allow my household to buy Bounty because of how well they work with makeup! I deep clean all of my brushes once every two weeks with J&J baby shampoo, which smells soooo good!

Is it me or does MAC brush cleanser smell like tequila? JS.

Anne Avatar

I have been wearing makeup more sparingly lately, but usually I would spot clean after every use because OCD, and wash them with something like Dr. Bronners mixed with water or the BeautyBlender solid shampoo after a handful of uses. But, for lip brushes I do the full wash after every use, same for cream products.

Kecia S. Avatar

For a quick clean, I spritz my brushes with Sephora’s anti-bacterial brush cleanser. For a deeper clean, I squirt baby shampoo onto a square silicone coaster, swirl my brush in the shampoo, rinse until clean & then lay the brush on the side of the sink with the bristles handing over the edge.

Deborah Avatar

I use MAC Brush Cleanser. Place a bit in a bowl and swish around the brushes. I use a soft hand towel to dry them – not squeezing them of course – just putting the brushes between the towels and hold – repeat. Then when I am convinced that they are dry enough, I place on a flat surface to dry further. I keep hearing about Japonesque cleanser which has alcohol that will kill germs. I’ll have to read up on that. I am reading about a lot of pros using Savon de Marseille Palm Oil Soap (Original). But for now – MAC brush cleanser.

Carolyn Adams Avatar

I sometimes use my own solution ( baby shampoo, dawn, alcohol, distilled water. Or I use the Beauty Blender solid or liquid. Sometimes Dr Bronner. Sometimes he Cinema Secrets spray

Ciara Avatar

I use the Sephora Master Cleanse: Daily Brush Cleaning spray in between weekly washes on my brushes with the help of my Makeup eraser as a blotting towel. Weekly I use my mini Sigma cleaning glove sample I got for free at IMATS, which works surprisingly well to help get the makeup out, and the BeautyBlender solid cleanser. The only thing I hate cleaning and do begrudging cause I don’t want to break out is my BeautyBlender. It takes a lot of work to get that thing clean, but I wouldn’t trade it for flawless application.

Tina S Avatar

I don’t wear makeup everyday so I can’t say I wash my personal brushes everyday or week, just when they get used. For the brushes I use on clients I use Ulta’s spray cleaner after every use and while on jobs. I will just spray the brush head and wipe it clean on a towel. Then once a week, unless they need it sooner, I will deep clean them all using Da Vinci’s brush soap. This stuff is seriously amazing. Once I got it I couldn’t believe I was washing my brushes without it before. It’s a bar soap that comes in a tin so I just wet the brush head and then swirl it in the soap and work it on the back of my hand. I then use the brush guard on most brushes and lay them on a towel to dry. I will do the same routine with my personal ones just not as often.

Tiffany K. Avatar

I’m in the sane boat as you Christine, where I have a few to go through before I have to clean them. I was lucky enough to get the Lilumia brush cleaner for my birthday 3 weeks ago from my husband and I LOVE it! !!!!!!!!!! It is so nice to just have it do the work for you. So now I have 2 hours saved and I actually want to clean my brushes where before I dreaded it

IRockFaces Avatar

I use a clean brush every time I do my makeup since I have sensitive skin, and I wash after each use also. It makes it easy for the next time because I can just grab my already clean brushes and just get to work.

Lindsay Avatar

I have a deluxe sample of the beauty blender cleanser and even though I can’t stand the smell I’m using that right now! Other than that I just use olive oil and antibacterial dish soap! And for spot cleansing I use a homemade cleanser I made it with baby shampoo alcohol and and conditioner/ leave in conditioner

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