How to Clean Makeup Brushes and Sponges

Makeup brushes and sponges are essential tools for achieving flawless makeup application. However, with regular use, these beauty tools can accumulate dirt, oil, bacteria, and leftover makeup. Cleaning your brushes and sponges regularly is crucial not only for maintaining their longevity but also for ensuring the health of your skin. In this article, we will guide you through the process of cleaning makeup brushes and sponges effectively.


When it comes to achieving a flawless makeup look, clean brushes and sponges are essential. Unclean tools can harbor bacteria and transfer old makeup onto your skin, leading to breakouts and skin irritations. Regular cleaning of your makeup brushes and sponges is a crucial step in maintaining good skincare hygiene.

Importance of Cleaning Makeup Brushes and Sponges

Dirty makeup brushes and sponges can accumulate oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells over time. When these tools come in contact with your face, they can transfer these impurities, leading to clogged pores, acne breakouts, and even infections. By cleaning your brushes and sponges, you remove these impurities, ensuring that your makeup application is smooth and your skin remains healthy.

Supplies Needed for Cleaning

Before we begin the cleaning process, gather the following supplies:

  1. Mild liquid soap or brush cleanser
  2. Warm water
  3. A clean towel or paper towels
  4. A shallow bowl or sink
  5. Brush cleaning mat or glove (optional)

Having these supplies readily available will make the cleaning process more convenient and efficient.

How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes and Sponges

Step 1: Preparing the Cleaning Solution

Start by preparing the cleaning solution. Fill a shallow bowl or sink with warm water. Add a small amount of mild liquid soap or brush cleanser to the water. Gently mix the water to create a soapy solution. Avoid using harsh cleansers or dish soaps, as they can damage the bristles of your brushes and sponges.

Step 2: Wetting the Brushes and Sponges

Before cleaning, wet the brushes and sponges under warm running water. Make sure the water is not too hot, as it can damage the bristles or cause the sponge to deteriorate. Wetting the tools beforehand helps to loosen any dried makeup and makes the cleaning process more effective.

Step 3: Cleaning the Brushes

Substep 3.1 (continued): Swirling in the Cleaning Solution

Take one brush at a time and dip it into the soapy water. Gently swirl the brush in the cleaning solution, making sure the bristles are fully coated. This action helps to loosen and remove the makeup residue, oils, and bacteria trapped within the bristles.

If you have a brush cleaning mat or glove, you can use it to further enhance the cleaning process. Rub the bristles against the textured surface of the mat or glove, creating friction that dislodges any stubborn residue.

Substep 3.2: Rinsing the Brushes

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the brushes, rinse them under warm running water. Gently squeeze the bristles from the base to the tips to remove any remaining soap and residue. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear, indicating that the brushes are clean.

Avoid submerging the entire brush, especially the ferrule (the metal part that holds the bristles), as this can cause water damage and loosen the bristles over time.

Substep 3.3: Shaping and Drying the Brushes

After rinsing, gently reshape the bristles with your fingers, ensuring they return to their original shape. Then, lay the brushes flat on a clean towel or paper towel, allowing them to air dry. Alternatively, you can hang the brushes upside down using brush guards or clips to prevent water from seeping into the ferrule.

It’s important to let the brushes dry completely before using them again to avoid any potential mold or mildew growth. This process usually takes a few hours to overnight, depending on the brush density and size.

How to Clean Makeup Brushes

Step 4: Cleaning the Sponges

Substep 4.1: Applying the Cleaning Solution

For makeup sponges, such as beauty blenders, it’s best to use a slightly different cleaning technique. Begin by wetting the sponge under running water until it expands and becomes fully saturated. Apply a small amount of the cleaning solution directly onto the sponge or onto your palm.

Substep 4.2: Gently Squeezing and Rinsing the Sponges

Using your fingers, gently squeeze and massage the sponge in a rolling motion, allowing the cleaning solution to penetrate the sponge and dislodge any trapped makeup. Continue this process until the sponge produces a lather and the water runs clear.

Rinse the sponge thoroughly under warm water, gently squeezing and rinsing until all the soap residue is removed. Make sure to press out any excess water from the sponge without wringing or twisting it, as this can damage the delicate material.

Substep 4.3: Drying the Sponges

To dry the sponge, place it on a clean towel and allow it to air dry. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight or using heat sources, as this can cause the sponge to lose its shape or deteriorate. Ensure that the sponge is completely dry before storing it to prevent any potential bacteria growth.

How to clean makeup brushes and sponges

Frequency of Cleaning

To maintain optimal cleanliness, it’s recommended to clean your makeup brushes and sponges at least once a week. However, if you use your brushes and sponges daily or have acne-prone or sensitive skin, consider cleaning them more frequently, such as after each use. Regular cleaning ensures that you’re applying makeup with tools free from buildup and bacteria, promoting healthier skin.

Tips for Maintaining Clean Brushes and Sponges (continued):

  • Trim any frayed or split bristles on your brushes to ensure optimal performance and longevity.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or alcohol-based cleaners, as they can damage the bristles and sponge material.
  • Never soak your brushes or sponges for extended periods, as this can lead to water damage and deterioration.
  • Wash your brushes and sponges immediately after using them with products that contain oils or creams to prevent residue buildup.
  • Consider investing in brush and sponge guards or covers to protect them from dust and contamination when not in use.
  • Regularly check the condition of your brushes and sponges. If you notice any signs of wear or shedding, it may be time to replace them.
  • Clean your brushes and sponges separately to prevent cross-contamination between different types of makeup products.

By following these maintenance tips, you can extend the lifespan of your brushes and sponges while ensuring their cleanliness and hygiene.

 cleaning your makeup brushes and sponges

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Using hot water: Hot water can cause the bristles to expand and weaken the glue that holds them in place. Stick to lukewarm water to prevent any damage to your brushes and sponges.
  2. Scrubbing too vigorously: While it’s important to clean your tools thoroughly, avoid scrubbing too harshly as it can damage the bristles or sponge material. Gently massage and swirl the tools to remove makeup residue.
  3. Skipping the drying step: Ensure that your brushes and sponges are completely dry before storing them. Dampness can lead to mold or mildew growth, resulting in unpleasant odors and potential skin issues.
  4. Using harsh cleansers: Avoid using harsh cleansers or strong detergents as they can strip away the natural oils from the bristles, causing them to become brittle and less effective over time. Opt for mild soap or specialized brush cleansers.
  5. Neglecting deep cleaning: While quick cleaning sprays can be useful for daily sanitization, they are not a substitute for deep cleaning. Regularly deep clean your brushes and sponges to remove stubborn buildup and bacteria.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can maintain the quality and cleanliness of your makeup brushes and sponges, ensuring optimal performance and better skincare.

Makeup Sponge vs Brush

Benefits of Regular Cleaning

Regularly cleaning your makeup brushes and sponges offers several benefits:

  1. Prevents breakouts: By removing dirt, oil, and bacteria, clean brushes and sponges help prevent clogged pores and acne breakouts.
  2. Improves makeup application: Clean tools ensure smoother and more even makeup application, allowing your products to blend seamlessly for a flawless finish.
  3. Preserves brush and sponge quality: Regular cleaning extends the lifespan of your brushes and sponges, saving you money in the long run.
  4. Promotes healthy skin: Clean brushes and sponges minimize the risk of skin irritations, infections, and allergic reactions, promoting overall skin health.

Make cleaning your makeup brushes and sponges a regular part of your beauty routine to enjoy these benefits and keep your tools in optimal condition.


Cleaning your makeup brushes and sponges is an essential step in maintaining the health of your skin and achieving flawless makeup application. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this article and implementing the tips and recommendations, you can ensure that your brushes and sponges remain clean, hygienic, and effective.

Remember, regular cleaning not only improves the performance of your tools but also contributes to the overall health and appearance of your skin. Incorporate proper brush and sponge cleaning into your beauty routine for a flawless and radiant makeup look.

1. How often should I clean my makeup brushes and sponges?

It is recommended to clean your makeup brushes and sponges at least once a week. However, if you use them daily or have sensitive or acne-prone skin, it is best to clean them after each use. Regular cleaning ensures that you are working with clean tools, minimizing the risk of bacteria buildup and maintaining the quality of your brushes and sponges.

2. Can I use dish soap or shampoo to clean my brushes and sponges?

While dish soap or shampoo may seem like convenient options, they can be harsh on the bristles and sponge material. It is best to use a mild liquid soap or specialized brush cleanser specifically formulated for cleaning makeup tools. These products are gentle yet effective in removing makeup residue, oils, and bacteria without causing damage.

3. Can I use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process?

Using a hairdryer to dry your brushes or sponges is not recommended, as the heat can damage the bristles and sponge material. It is best to let them air dry naturally. Lay the brushes flat on a clean towel or paper towel, allowing them to dry in a well-ventilated area. Sponges can be placed on a clean towel and gently pressed to remove excess water, then left to air dry.