face makeup How to Properly Clean Makeup Brushes and Blenders

Sanitizing your tools is easy and necessary — but you may not be doing it as often as you should.

January 16, 2023
Cleaning Makeup Brushes And Blenders CMS Bmag


You’re probably aware that having clear skin comes down to several factors, including a solid skin care routine, your diet and genetics. But what you may not know is that if you want all the effort you put into your skin care routine to be worth it, then you’re going to need to wash your makeup brushes and makeup sponges (blenders) regularly too. 

In addition to causing color transfer and muddiness when doing your makeup, brushes and sponges that haven’t been washed harbor bacteria that can lead to breakouts. Plus, dipping dirty tools into your makeup also transfers bacteria to your products 一 not just your face. 

To make sure that this doesn’t happen to you, keep reading to find out how to clean makeup brushes and makeup sponges the right way 一 and how often you really need to wash them. 

How Often Do You Need to Wash Your Makeup Brushes? 

There’s no perfect science to this, but if you’re using your makeup brushes and sponges daily, it’s a good idea to thoroughly clean them once a week. However, if you can’t make that happen, give them a good clean at least every other week and treat them with a brush cleanser in between.

Brush cleansers are typically liquid formulas that come in spray bottles making it easy to spot treat your brushes. They have a high alcohol content which helps to kill bacteria, and they’re great for getting rid of pigment from makeup as a quick fix. But the truth is, they’re not as effective at eliminating bacteria as traditional soap.

What’s the Best Soap to Clean Makeup Brushes?

You can buy a brush cleanser made specifically for makeup brushes and makeup blenders, usually in the form of a bar soap or liquid. If you don’t have any on hand, you can keep it simple by using products you already have at home. 

A gentle shampoo, hand soap, or daily facial cleanser like the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Nourishing Cream Cleanser can work perfectly to help break down the makeup or dirt that has caked onto the bristles over time, without damaging your brushes. But while you may have heard that dish soap is a good option for cleaning your brushes, it can be pretty harsh and cause the bristles to dry out. Instead, pick one of the gentler options we mentioned above. 

How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Follow the steps below to wash your makeup tools and make sure they stay clean and in top shape.

1. Lather and Swirl

Set up shop at the sink and start running lukewarm water. Begin by wetting your dirty makeup brushes under the water. Be sure to point the brush so that the bristles are facing down 一 this helps prevent water from seeping into the handle and loosening the bristles over time. Then, squeeze a small amount of cleanser in the palm of your hand. Take a brush and swirl the bristles in your hand to help loosen the debris. You can also rub your brushes on a brush cleaning pad (a silicone mat with texture and ridges that will remove debris from your brush) to help clean them.


2. Rinse and Check

Once your brush is thoroughly sudsy and the cleanser that was in your hand has started to change colors, your brush is ready to be rinsed off. Repeat these steps until the water starts to run clear, and your tools have returned to their original color. Remember that some brushes are densely packed and have long bristles — like stippling brushes — so ensure that they’re properly washed by spreading the bristles apart and making sure the soap and water gets on every bristle before you move on. 

3. Test and Dry

When you’ve finished rinsing, gently brush your tools against a microfiber cloth or towel (even a textured paper towel will do) to test their cleanliness and dislodge any last bits of dirt or makeup that might remain. Then lay your brushes down to dry on a towel, which will help absorb any excess water. 

How to Clean Your Makeup Sponges

We love makeup blenders like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Blend Artist Foundation Blender, because they help seamlessly apply liquid and cream products. But if you’re using dirty ones, you could be doing your makeup routine more harm than good. The good news is, cleaning makeup blenders and sponges is just as easy as cleaning makeup brushes. Here’s what to do.

1. Lather Away

First, squeeze your dirty makeup sponge a few times under water to thoroughly wet it. Then, pour a small amount of cleanser onto the blender and massage it into the sponge to loosen the makeup stuck inside and on its surface. 

2. Rinse and Squeeze, and Repeat

Rinse and squeeze out the excess water. Keep squeezing and  repeating until the water runs clear — add more cleanser as you go if necessary. 


3. Dry and Store

Leave your blender on a towel to dry, then store it in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to use it.

How Do You Dry Makeup Brushes?

You may be tempted to put all your makeup brushes in an upright position while they dry, but don’t. Storing wet brushes standing up can cause water to leak into the metal bit beneath the bristles which can potentially lead to mold — the same way that washing them with the bristles facing up can. 

To dry your makeup brushes, lay them down on their side on a towel, or you can buy a specific drying rack for makeup brushes that will let your brushes hang upside down so the water will drip out of the brush. For a makeup sponge, you should also leave it on a towel to dry.

How Often You Should Replace Makeup Brushes?

Generally speaking, makeup brushes last about one to three years, but this will depend on the material that they’re made of, as well as how often you use them. If you notice your brushes’ bristles are becoming frazzled, stiff or are falling out of the brush, it’s time to get new ones. As for makeup sponges and blenders, replace them every three months.


Next: Is It Better to Apply Foundation With a Brush, a Sponge or Your Fingers?

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn