How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

And keep bacteria at bay


Words by Lydia Devlin
October 11th, 2016

Cleaning your makeup brushes is a tiresome task for most. I know, I get it. However, it’s also one of the most important steps you should take in order to get that flawless complexion. Unfortunately, I hear so many horror stories of ladies who have never washed their makeup brushes and this just won’t cut it. Not only is it gross (sorry, girls, but it is), it also means that these brushes are harbouring bacteria which can lead to an infection or cause dreaded spots.

When you use a brush to apply your makeup, any dead skin cells which have built up on your skin naturally come off onto the brush. These won’t disappear by magic which means the next time you go to use this brush you will be rubbing the dead skin cells back on to your face! #Ididnotwakeuplikethis.

Now that you’ve been truly horrified by what happens when you don’t clean your makeup brushes I’m going to leave you with some suggestions of my top cleaning products that actually work and will bring you one step closer to expertly applied makeup.

Rubbing alcohol

By far the best brush cleanser out there is Isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol. This lifts all stains, dirt and anything else trying to hide out in your brushes. You do need to let the brushes dry fully before use, though. You can get this from any pharmacy.

Johnson’s Baby Shampoo

As you would expect from a shampoo made for babies, this is soft, gentle and will get rid of stubborn dirt. I suggest you team Johnson’s Baby Shampoo up with Johnson’s Baby Oil to lift the really heavy stains. So wash your brushes with shampoo and then use the oil to get out the hard stuff, then finish off by going in with another shampoo wash to remove the oil.

Dove Beauty Cream Bar

I really like this soap bar by Dove as it has moisturising ingredients in it which won’t dry out the brushes. It smells delicious too which is always a bonus.

Cinema Secrets Makeup Brush Cleaner

This cleaner from Cinema Secrets will do for a quick clean but not for a bath. It leaves brushes smelling lovely and it certainly removes dirt.


Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Mat

This rubber mat by Sigma is a great way to save on the effort of scrubbing brushes. It’s basically a textured mat with suction cups that stick to your sink and take those dirty brushes and make them sparkling. It even tells you which part of the mat is best for which brush so, for instance, it has a section for eyes, a section for face etc. and that part of the mat is textured in a way that is suitable for that particular brush. I team it with baby shampoo and voila super easy and no excuse for having dirty brushes.


This is not a makeup brush per se but it does require cleaning just as frequently. I love my Beautyblender but the speed at which it becomes dirty creeps me out. I clean mine using anti-bacterial hand wash and some elbow grease. There’s only one way to do this… Lather, rinse, repeat. I apply some soap onto the sponge, give it a squeeze and rinse. I repeat this until the water starts to rinse clear, indicating I’ve removed all product from inside. I don’t recommend using the mat to clean these as it is too rough and literally pulls the sponge apart. Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way. *tear*

After I’ve given all my little babies (yes, I mean my brushes) a bath, I leave them out on a towel to dry flat. Preferably on a window sill or rad to dry naturally. If you leave them to dry with the bristles standing up the water will seep down into the handle and dissolve the glue that keeps everything together, leaving your brush to fall apart.

I recommend to wash them as often as possible but of course I know this isn’t always doable but please try and make time once a week. Your face, makeup and brushes will love you for it.

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