How To: Clean Make-Up Brushes.

There’s one task that takes stamina. It takes diligence. It takes determination. And it takes courage. It isn’t for the faint hearted and it certainly isn’t for the weak. You got it. It’s cleaning make-up brushes *shudders*. It’s one of those tasks that every make-up enthusiast hates. Well, at least I do. But sadly, it has to be done – unless you don’t care about bacteria or can afford to buy new make up brushes regularly.

I’m not gonna pretend I clean my make-up brushes religiously every other Sunday. I do it when I can be bothered, but I try not to leave it too long between washes. I aim to clean them about twice a month. But I tell myself this is okay because I have a wide selection of brushes so I can just rotate my brush use once one is in need of cleaning and I do have a brush cleaner spray I use after every application. Well, at least that’s what I tell myself to make myself feel a little more at ease.

So this is how I clean my make-up brushes..

First things first. Cleaning them can be a right pain in the ass, especially when it comes to full coverage foundation, so I could easily be spending an hour or so in the bathroom – it sounds ages but in comparison to how many make-up brushes I own, it’s nothing. To make the hour more enjoyable, I either set up my MacBook on the side with a movie or tv show on Netflix or I just put my headphones in and listen to some 90s classics. Today’s jam was Shania Twain’s Greatest Hits album. What a babe.

So once I have my entertainment sorted, I collect all my make-up brushes together. I sometimes take some to work with me in my cosmetic bag and if I’ve been away, they’ll still be in my travel bag so I make sure I have all the brushes I own. There is literally nothing worse than spending hours cleaning them all to realise that you’ve missed one.


I then put them all in the bathroom and collect my blender cleanser solid from it’s home – the bottom drawer of my dressing table. I find the blender cleanser so easy to use and so gentle on the brushes, but there are other more affordable and more accessible alternatives if you don’t want to splash the cash on a glorified soap. Many high street brands have brush cleansers and you can also use hand wash (just make sure it’s anti-bacterial) or baby shampoo if you want to. They all do the same job!

Once I’ve got everything sorted and I’m ready to jam my little heart out, I begin..

The first thing I do is wet the brush beneath the running water. I make sure the water isn’t too hot but isn’t too cold either. I usually use the temperature I’d use when I was my hands.


Make sure the water doesn’t go over the brush joining (or whatever the technical word for it is). This line..


This is because if water gets in there, it could ruin your brushes as water plus glue means the head of the brush could fall off or the bristles could shed. Some brushes don’t have them at this point. I know the core collection of Real Techniques have them further down the brush. You’ll just have to be careful with each brush and do them individually.

Once the bristles are all wet, I rub them over the soap in a circular motion, making sure all the bristles get covered.


(Make sure you turn the tap off when you don’t need the water to save the planet!)

With the blender cleaner, it comes with a little rubber pad with a texture surface which is perfect for cleaning your brushes on. I also know there are specialised brush mittens you can purchase – Sigma do a great one that I used to own but sadly lost. I rub the brush over the different bumps and textures to make sure the soap gets worked up into a lather. How long you have to swirl the brush around depends on how much make-up there is on the brush and how stubborn the make-up is. I tend to find that full coverage foundations and heavy duty concealers are the worst make-up to get out of brushes as it seems to cling to the bristles for dear life. The best way to make sure it is clean is to rinse it ever so often under the running water and see if you need anymore soap and swirling. Some of my brushes take a few seconds to clean and some take a few minutes – it completely depends on the type of make-up you use the brushes with.


Then there’s the disgusting job of rinsing the brush off and watching the sink turn into a sickly colour..


After the brush is clean and the water runs clear, I like to squeeze the bristles between my fingers to get rid of any excess water as it’s less likely to ruin the brush if there’s no water left on it, plus it speeds up the drying process a lot!


Another way that I make sure the water is completely gone from them before setting them out to dry is to gently swirl them onto a dry hand towel. This way it helps the brush get back it’s natural shape after squeezing the bristles and it makes sure that any excess water that you didn’t manage to get rid of when squeezing them is completely dried up into the towel.


I know there are some devices available that lets you basically hang your brushes out to dry upside down so the water drips off them as if they were dishes. But I personally just find that the best way to dry my brushes is to place a towel on the side of the bath and put the brushes horizontally across it.


Never hold or put your brushes vertically when you are washing them or drying them as this will mean that water can seep into the brush itself and loosen the glue, which could ruin the brush and mean you’ll have to get rid of it.

It usually takes the brushes about eight hours to dry but since I like to clean my brushes on a day where I’m not wearing make-up or a day where I’ve already applied make-up and won’t need to reapply it again, I tend to leave them overnight so they are all dried properly.


And there you have it.. nice clean brushes! And as much as I hate the chore of cleaning them, I love the feeling of using fresh brushes. It’s almost as good as fresh bedding.. Almost.

So how do you guys wash your brushes? Have you got any tips? I’d love to know so comment below!


6 thoughts on “How To: Clean Make-Up Brushes.

  1. Naomi Rowan says:

    I have literally been wondering about this as I’ve only just purchased enough brushes to need to clean them (I only had an eyeshadow brush which basically self cleaned which is handy!) Think I’ll try baby shampoo and then a little dish soap if it’s more stubborn. Do you do anything in between deep washes? I’ve heard of people using hand sanitizer but I’m unconvinced!


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