You Last Cleaned Your Makeup Brushes WHEN!?

Proper regular cleaning of your makeup brushes is more important than you may realize. Did you know that bacteria like Staphylococcus, E. coli and a multitude of viruses and fungi live naturally on your skin? Buildup of any of these on makeup brushes can cause acne, dermatitis, impetigo and herpes simplex. I could keep going but you get the point! 

Truthfully, the tools we use every day on our bodies can be just as dirty, if not more so than our toilets. 

Let that sink in for a second. 

Keeping this in mind, it’s important that you clean your makeup brushes and sponges regularly. This may sound daunting, but it’s actually pretty easy when you make it part of your regular routine. You might even want to do it daily after applying your makeup. This is especially true if you struggle with acne, skin infections, cold sores, or if your kids play with your makeup.

We don’t claim to be doctors here but we do know a thing or two about disinfection. I was a professional makeup artist in a past life, so in pursuit of helping you stay clean, organized, and healthy, allow me to share my combined knowledge.

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Here are some terms that may be new to you. 

Bristles are the “hair” of the brushes. Most brands have switched over to synthetic fiber bristles versus natural animal hair bristles. Both natural and synthetic bristles can be cleaned the same way. 

Ferrules are the metal portion that holds the bristles in place, and are typically nickel-plated brass or aluminum. 

Handles tend to be birch or bamboo, coated in varnish, paint, resin or plastic.

Over time, any and all of these will break down. But with proper maintenance and care, they can last a very long time. My personal brushes have lasted over 20 years. You will always get what you pay for, so these are not the type of items to purchase at the dollar store. Buy quality stuff and take care of it – that’s our mantra. (Canada) (USA)

What you need:

  • Dawn® dish soap
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Silicon makeup cleaning pad (Optional) (Canada) (USA)
  • A small bowl

You may have noticed how much we LOVE Dawn® dish soap, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we use it for our makeup brushes too. Dawn is gentle enough not to damage the delicate bristles and is safe for skin contact. 

Weekly/Biweekly Cleaning: 

  1. Fill a small bowl with warm water and a few drops of blue Dawn® dish soap. Swirl your brush bristles in the solution, taking care to not get the handle  and ferrule soaking wet. Gently massage the bristles with a silicon pad or your hand and watch the gunk magically release. (Alternatively, you can put a drop of blue Dawn® dish soap in the palm of your hand or the pad and massage the bristles mixed with warm tap water.) 
  2. Rinse the bristles carefully until the water runs clear. 
  3. Blot or brush out any excess water with a towel. Lay or stand (link) your brushes to dry. 
  4. Once they are fully dry, fluff them up with your hand to reshape the bristles.

The thing I love so much about this process is that it’s fast and easy. You might even want to keep a mini bottle of blue Dawn® dish soap in your bathroom cupboard. Then, all you have to do is squirt a couple of drops and clean. Not only can this method be used for brushes and sponges, but it’s also effective for cleaning beauty blenders and reusable makeup remover pads too.


The Dawn dish soap will only remove the make-up and oil build-up. Disinfecting is the final step in long term maintenance and good hygiene for your brushes, but most importantly your skin. Soaking your brushes in 70% alcohol is needed to kill bacteria and viruses. 70% is the perfect mixture of isopropanol and purified water. Here’s the simple step-by-step:

  1. Fill a small bowl with isopropyl alcohol. Soak smaller brush bristles for 10 mins. Larger brushes should only be soaked for a couple minutes. Make sure to not soak the ferrule or handle as the adhesives will break down over time. 
  2. Remove excess alcohol and reshape the bristles. 
  3. Lay or stand (Canada) (USA) your brushes to dry. 
  4. Once they are fully dry, fluff them up with your hand to reshape the bristles. 

Pro Tip: Daily misting of your bristles before applying makeup using 70% alcohol is an easy effective way to disinfect. The spray alcohol dries fast so your bristles won’t be wet. You can also spray all your pressed and cream powders. 

Now you have the knowledge to get your glam on, confident that you are keeping your skin healthy. Don’t let our cleaning content fool you, we love getting dolled up too.

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– Katie @GoCleanCo

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