My Ultimate DIY Brush Cleaner

Today I’m sharing my ultimate DIY brush cleaner and giving a refresher lesson on proper brush cleaning and care!

If it isn’t already, washing your makeup brushes should be a permanent part of your beauty routine. Cleaning is so important for the quality and life of both your brushes and your skin. Think about it – there is so much makeup, oil, bacteria, and dirt trapped in an unclean brush, and unless you wash them, you’re rubbing it all back into your skin…um, gross.

Bottom line: you should be washing your brushes frequently. Fancy brush shampoos can be too expensive for how much you should be using them, and baby shampoo does not disinfect. This method, however, contains all super inexpensive ingredients and supplies, most of which you probably already have in your kitchen. I learned this technique in oil painting class and have been using it for years :)

My Ultimate Brush Cleaner


You Need:

  • Basic dish soap (to disinfect and clean)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (to recondition the bristle hair after it’s stripped of oils and disinfected by the soap)
  • Dinner plate
  • A hanger
  • Chip clips
  • Brush guards


  1. Pour the dish soap onto the plate – you don’t need too much
  2. Add a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. The ratio should be approximately 2 parts dish soap to 1 1/2 parts EVOO and should look something like this:
    6255029386:Yahoo:photoAnd that’s it for the shampoo! Now it’s time to begin cleaning.
  3. Take your first brush and stir it up in the mixture in a circular motion (you should see some of the makeup start to come off in the mixture).
  4. Then wipe the brush pack and forth on your hand to release the makeup from the brush. This removes all the pigments and kills the bacteria.
  5. When you’re done, place the brush on a paper towel.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 with the remainder of your brushes.
  7. Once you’ve cleaned all your brushes, you’ll need to rinse them off under warm water in the sink. Swirl the brush under the water into the palm of your hand to thoroughly clean it off. (NOTE: do not use hot water, the high temperature will damage your brushes)
  8. Continue to do so until the water is clear when you squeeze the brush.
  9. Once they are all rinsed clean, gently wipe them dry with a paper towel and blot out the excess water. (Regular paper towels work best because they will not leave lint on the brushes)

Storing and Drying Your Brushes


Important Note: Do NOT let your brushes dry standing up with the bristles facing upwards – this will ruin them!! Water will drip down the bristles into the brush and loosen the glue holding the hairs together. Eventually, the hairs will fall out and the handle will be ruined too.

Hang dry your brushes upside down the following way:

  1. Take the appropriate brush guard for the brush you are working with – starting at the end of the handle, slide the guard on over the end of the brush all the way to the bristles till it covers the brush hair completely.
  2. Take your chip clip (any snack storing clip with a clamp) and clip it over the base wire of your coat hanger (make sure any paper is removed from the hanger prior to this step) – you want the chip clips to hang from the hanger.
  3. Clip your brush onto the hanger by inserting the end of the brush handle into the clip clamp. The hairs should be at the bottom facing downward.
  4. Do this for all of your brushes, and hang the hanger from a doorknob or towel rack to let the brushes dry.

A Couple Notes on Brush Guards:

  • Brush guards are great because they keep your brushes covered and protected from dust and dirt. They also help retain a brush’s shape and will preserve it for longer. You can get them from The Brush Guard if you do not already own some.
  • To clean your brush guards, use hot water and soap – let them sit in a bowl with hot water and soap for about 5 minutes, remove and rinse off.

When To Clean:

  • Foundation brushes: daily or after each use – liquids will trap more bacteria than powder and need to be cleaned more frequently
  • Powder/Eyeshadow brushes: after each new color
  • Eyeliner brushes: daily with your foundation brushes – anything going in your eye needs to be clean to prevent infection.

Happy cleaning, everyone! Your skin and your brushes will thank you!


Beauty, makeup

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