Beauty · Make-up

How to clean your make-up brushes – the ‘at home’ way and the ‘pro’ way

Never before have I used as many make-up brushes in my personal make-up routine as I do now!  It doesn’t really matter why (my methods and preferences are just changing I guess) but the need to clean them frequently is now something else to factor into my time, whereas before I didn’t need to worry…  I don’t have a lot of time for finickity little jobs like this, so if it’s just for my own personal use, I sometimes do it the quick way.  If I’ve just worked on a make-up job though, I’ll always give them the thorough ‘pro’ clean.  In this post I’m going to share both ways with you and then you can take your pick of what suits you best.


If you use any form of tool in your own make-up routine (brushes, sponges, puffs, whatever) you should be cleaning them regularly (and by regularly, I mean at least weekly). The most important for you to know (so you can judge things wisely) is that tools used for wet-based products (like foundation, concealer, etc.) will be the least hygienic and quicker too.  This is because disease-causing micro-organisms (like bacteria and viruses) need moisture to live and breed, so wet-based make-up products give them a perfect habitat, in which to do this.  Tools used for dry products (like eye shadow, blusher, powder, etc.) aren’t quite as concerning but on the other hand, they do come into contact with moisture (bodily fluids: when working around the eye, nose and mouth area, whether you’re aware of it or not!) and so potentially, they could harbor micro-organisms just as grossly.  In a nutshell: if you use them daily, clean them weekly.

There are a few ways to clean your make-up brushes and I’m going to share with you two:

  • the quicker, easier ‘at home’ way
  • the ‘pro’ way

    The ‘pro’ way requires professional brush cleaning fluid, so if you don’t have this (and don’t intend to buy it), you might like to try my ‘at home’ way, which just requires antibacterial hand soap and some water = easy!  Work with one brush at a time and lay out some kitchen roll or a towel next to you to lay them on once you’ve finished cleaning them.  Start by wetting your brush under a running tap, so you have clean water for each brush, rather than a sink full of clean water that gets dirtier and dirtier as you go!  (Don’t leave the tap running the whole time though, you’ll just waste loads of water in the process!)  Take a pump of antibacterial soap in the palm of your hand and scribble your brush in it, in circular motions until you see the soap foaming and getting coloured by the make-up.  Once the soap has become completely dirtied by the make-up coming out of your brush, rinse it all off, take a second pump of soap in the palm of your hand and repeat the process.  Keep doing this until the soap runs clean and is no longer dirtied by the make-up coming out of your brush.  When you’ve finished one brush, lay it on the kitchen roll/towel and start the next.  If you’re cleaning sponges or puffs, apply the same technique but also squeeze them regularly to encourage the soap to work from inside them and the embedded make-up to rinse out of them!

    When you’ve finished them all, give them a loose rub down with the kitchen roll/towel to remove excess water but be sure not to be too rough with the brush bristles, as you don’t want to damage them or scruff them up or they won’t dry straight again.  Then lay them on a windowsill or in the airing cupboard until they’re thoroughly dried out (24 hours is normally plenty of time).  Be sure that they’re completely dry before you use them again because, if they’re still wet, your make-up won’t blend very well and they’ll harbor nasty micro-organisms all the more readily!

    Brush Cleaner from

    The ‘pro’ way is no more complicated but obviously does require the professional cleaning solution.  The one I’m currently using is by Kryolan and it does the job perfectly.  You will need a few sheets of clean tissue or kitchen roll as well.  All I do is decant a little brush cleaner into a separate cup/glass (so as not to contaminate the entire bottle’s worth!), dunk one brush into the cleaner (allowing it to absorb fully into the bristles) and then scribble it onto the tissue/kitchen roll.  If it starts to feel dry, you can always re-dunk the brush into the cleaner and continue scribbling it onto the tissue until it runs clean (i.e. no more make-up is coming out).  I always read the manufacturer’s instructions on the bottle, because some brush cleaners are corrosive to certain materials, so you need to be careful about which surfaces you allow it to come into contact with. If you’re cleaning sponges or puffs, dab them into the brush cleaning fluid and the scribble them across the tissue until no more makeup is coming off it. Alternatively you can also put them through the washing machine on a hot wash. When you’ve cleaned all your brushes, lay them on a windowsill or in the airing cupboard until they’re thoroughly dried out. Particularly with sponges and puffs, ensure they’re completely dry from the inside out before next use, as you don’t want any brush cleaning fluid coming out onto your skin.

    Whichever method you choose, neither is particularly taxing or time consuming but could make all the difference as to whether you transfer a Stye that’s only on one eye to your other eye!  I hope this post is helpful, especially if you’ve never had to clean any brushes before – honestly, it’s really not rocket science, I promise!

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    Thanks for reading x

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