How-to: Wash Make-up Brushes

How-to: Wash Make-up Brushes

If I was to rate how good it feels when all your make-up brushes are all fresh and clean post-wash it would be a solid 10 out of 10. But if I was also to rate the chore of washing them to get to that point… it wouldn’t even get a one. I put it off to the point of borderline un-hygienic (not really that bad, but I do tend to opt for a new brush over washing them until I’m all out of them and it just has to get done). But if I have to toil through the chore of brush washing then I might as well make a little post about it and how I do it.
how to wash make-up brushes IMG_6541


I should probably add here that I’m not exactly the professional brush-washer, so forgive me if how I do it isn’t perhaps the ‘best’ way, but it’s the way that works for me at the moment so I stick with it. You can also check out this post I wrote previously about brush washing if you’re interested to compare… to 2010!). In 2010 I wrote about using Dr Bronner’s soap to wash the brushes, which I still have (different bottle FYI) and still use. But when washing a large amount I tend to opt for a spray cleaner as it tends to be a little quicker. Although for things like foundation brushes that need a deep clean I’ll still reach for a soap/liquid cleaner like Dr Bronner’s. But for cleaning brushes now this is how I do things:

– Rubber washing up glove:

A one handed rubber-gloved woman does look a little odd. But I used this as my budget alternative to the Sigma Brush Cleaning glove (here if you’re interested) . Which does sound fantastic and no doubt works wonders. But for pure lathering up and helping get the grime out I find the texture on the everyday cleaning rubber glove does the trick. Plus it stops my hands from getting all puckered under running water for too long.

– Cleanser:

I’ve been using the Clinique Brush Cleansing Spray*, which I spray on the the bristles facing down. With the aim of avoiding getting excess water into the head of the brush as this can break down the glue that holds the bristles and result in shedding or the brush simply falling apart. I tend to spray direct on each brush, use the glove to create a lather then rinse in cleanwater to remove all cleanser.

– Ring out:

This is the slightly (I mean slightly) tricky bit. In that you want to get as much of the water out without ringing out the brushes to the point of pulling bristles out or mis-shaping them.

– Let them dry:

I won’t put them upright in pots again until properly dry. Now I don’t go as far as hanging them upside down to avoid the water going into the head – but I do lay them flat and usually place near-ish to a radiator to make the most of any heat in speeding up drying. I’ll also brush them lightly on a clean tea-towel over the time it takes them to dry to avoid them getting out of shape.

That’s it! My main tips for washing brushes – don’t leave it too long… procrastination makes the whole task worse than it really is. Promise. Don’t submerge them in water and always rinse clean so no cleaner left on the brushes afterwards. Oh, and avoid getting water into the head of the brush.

My final tip is use the washing process to do a quick check/clear out of any brushes that may be past the point of no return. I just chucked out a load that were just shedding too much or had become so out of shape they wouldn’t work anymore. Brushes are one of the things I’m most guilty of hoarding so good to clear out from time to time… helps avoid having a mountain of used ones to wash each time too!

*Indicates PR sample or gift. 




  1. January 6, 2015 / 9:53 am

    Hehehe it seems that many of us are guilty of just grabbing a clean brush and letting the dirty ones pile up!

    Great tip about the rubber gloves, it had not ocurred to me!!

    Speaking of which, I have dirty brushes waiting for me

    • Jen
      January 6, 2015 / 10:32 am

      Oh yes, you would be amazed how long I can put the task off for… New Years resolution. Wash brushes more often & stop relying on new ones!

  2. January 6, 2015 / 2:19 pm

    Better start the year with a clean set of brushes!

  3. Zeynab
    January 9, 2015 / 12:46 pm

    I definitely need to get myself one of those gloves. I hate cleaning my brushes, hopefully the glove will make it a lot easier.
    Zeynab xx
    The Beautifully Disastrous

  4. January 11, 2015 / 1:15 pm

    I just use good old fashioned baby shampoo and I take them in the shower with me (after every use) to save cleaning 400 of them once a week!

  5. October 23, 2015 / 10:57 am

    Clinique Brush Cleansing Spray is a great product. I have been using it since forever. my mother showed me how good it is 3 years ago. Cleaning my brushes is essential. If they are not precise clean you could ruin your skin. Greetings!

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