How to clean makeup brushes

How to clean makeup brushes: The best way to clean makeup brushes with gadgets, sprays and cleaning mats

19th August 2021 | Author: Libby Mewes

Nobody wants to clean makeup brushes. It’s a chore, but if you’re someone who spends time and money on toners, moisturisers and cleansers, you’re not doing yourself any favours by not giving the same treatment to the tools you use on that gorgeous skin.

That’s is not to mention the fact that dirty makeup brushes are breeding grounds for bacteria that have been linked to diseases such as pneumonia and even bone infections.

Getting clean makeup brushes doesn’t have to take all day, or cost hundreds and we’ve explained how to clean makeup brushes below.

Plus, to save you even more hassle we’ve put our top tips for the best makeup brush cleaner below. You can also see how to clean beauty blenders in our explainer.

FURTHER READING: How to clean a hairbrush – and why it could actually improve your hair in the process

How to clean makeup brushes for free

Makeup artists everywhere will suggest the easiest and most effective way of manually cleaning your brushes can be done in five simple steps:

  • Step 1: Dip each brush (yes, sadly they do need to be done individually) under warm running water
  • Step 2: Put the wet brush into a bowl of gentle makeup brush cleaner – any simple shampoo or soap you already use will do – and rub softly with fingers until a lather is created
  • Step 3: Hold the brush under warm running water again until the lather clears away
  • Step 4: Repeat the process until the brush looks clean
  • Step 5: Squeeze the brush so there isn’t any water left in amongst the bristles

How to clean makeup brushes quickly

There are alternative methods, but they involve spending money. If you have the budget and are after a quicker way to clean makeup brushes than the method above, we highly recommend the stylPro Original Makeup Brush Cleaner and Dryer.

It retails for £40 but is often on sale and it uses centrifugal force to spin your makeup brushes in the water. This fans the brushes out meaning the water and cleaner get deep inside to clean every bristle.

As you lift the brush out of the water, inside a specially designed bowl with a splash guard, the spinning removes all the water giving you clean and dry brushes in seconds. Watch the video below to see how easy it is:

You still have to clean your makeup brushes individually, but it’s a much more effective way of doing so. Plus you don’t have to wait for them to dry, nor run the risk of water getting trapped inside leading to damp bristles.

For an extra £20, the stylPro Expert Makeup Brush cleaner steps things up a level. It lets you clean eight small brushes at once.

Best way to clean makeup brushes with a cleaning mat

Alternatively, Makeup Revolution – one of the all-time best cheap makeup brands in the UK – recently released a new way to clean makeup brushes quickly and effectively. Called the Makeup Revolution Create Brush Cleanser, it looks like a compact powder pot yet contains cleansing balm as well as a scrubbing mat.

The rubber scrubbing mat uses suction to stick to the bottom of a sink. You then run your makeup brushes under the tap, swirl them around the cleansing balm to create a lather and then use the scrubbing mat to remove the rest of the makeup.

Then simply rinse the brush and lay flat to dry. Once you’ve finished using the balm, wipe it clean, place the mat on top and seal the lid.

The Makeup Revolution Create Brush Cleanser costs £8 and you can buy it directly from Makeup Revolution.

READ NEXT: Best foundation makeup brushes

Best way to clean makeup brushes in between washes

If you don’t have the time, or the inclination to wash your makeup brushes once a week, let alone after each use – which is recommended – get yourself a makeup brush cleaner spray.

After each use, simply give each individual brush a spray or two with a sanitising or cleansing spray, wipe the excess makeup and cleanser on a tissue and you’re good to go.


We want to give a shout-out to the Beauty Hygiene Plus Quick Dry Makeup Sanitising Mist.

It kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses but it’s been specially formulated for makeup and palettes, rather than the tools themselves.

Simply spray this mist over your lipsticks, powders, pencils, lips, gels, and eyeshadow palettes.

This is our preferred route to take and means we can get away without giving your makeup brushes a deep clean every fortnight. What’s more, many of these sprays condition your brushes too meaning they should last longer.

It’s also great if you only have a small collection of makeup brushes and need to get rid of the colour of one eyeshadow before using the same brush to apply the next.

We recommend the IT Cosmetics! This is Your Brush Love spray. It’s a one-step solution that has been designed for natural and synthetic brush hairs and is infused with peptides, antioxidants, hydrolysed collagen, and Vitamins A, C, and E. It also smells amazing.

The downside is that it’s not particularly cheap. A 100ml bottle costs £17 and if you’re using it daily, this will last you about a month.

A cheaper, but just as brilliant alternative is the Beauty Hygiene Plus Quick Dry Beauty Tools Sanitising Spray. In fact, all the products in the Beauty Hygiene Plus range are amazing, and affordable.

The Beauty Tools Sanitising Spray uses a “fast action formulation” to clean and sanitise your brushes, beauty blender and other tools by killing 99.9% of bacteria, yeast and enveloped viruses in just two minutes.

It can be used daily to keep beauty tools hygienic and germ-free and it’s suitable for hard beauty tools such as tweezers, eyelash curlers, pencil sharpeners, face massage rollers, cuticle pushers, nail clippers, and files.

How to dry your makeup brushes

Once you’ve cleaned your makeup brushes, how do you dry them properly? Some suggest laying your brushes flat over kitchen roll, we think differently.

If any water happens to seep through up the brush towards the handle it can loosen the glue that is holding the bristles together. If this happens, you will start to notice fall out from your brushes.

Jenny Tai | mamabella

We love the stylPro Original Makeup Brush Cleaner and Dryer because your brushes are instantly dried, but we have two other methods that will dry your makeup brushes without misshaping and loosening the bristles.

Firstly, this brush protector is is a 2-in-1 product. Not only can these nets protect the brushes in your makeup bag but they also offer a great drying method.

These makeup brush protectors are like mesh nets available in a range of different sizes and are flexible to fit around all makeup brushes.

The mesh allows your brushes to air dry, and protects from dust, but the great thing about these protectors is that you can stand up your makeup brushes so that water drips down.

Follow these three steps to dry your makeup brushes with the protectors:

  • Step 1: Follow our step-by-step guide on how to clean makeup brushes as above
  • Step 2: Use a clean towel and wrap it around the makeup brushes to gently squeeze as much water out of the brushes as possible
  • Step 3: Grab an empty pot or glass, select the right size protector for your makeup brush and slide it on from the handle down to the brush, leaving a 1-2cm gap
  • Step 4: Then just pop the brush in your empty pot or glass mesh down. We recommend you use a maximum of four brushes per pot/glass, because the air needs to circulate to dry your makeup brushes
Buy now from Amazon

Makeup Brush Drying Rack

Just like a dish drying rack, this one has been designed for your makeup brushes.

It keeps the natural shape of your brushes while drip drying them, and keeps dust away from your bristles.



This rack has 26 mixed gripped holes to slide your washed makeup brushes. Push your makeup handle up from the bottom of the tray through the silicon hole and it will sit securely. Just make sure you choose the best size hole for your brush.

You can then move the makeup brush drying rack into the sink or bathtub to let any excess water drip down.

What’s even better is this drying rack is portable, and it doubles up as an albeit large makeup brush holder. Just flip your makeup brushes the other way round and push your makeup brush handles down from the top of the tray.

Buy now from Amazon

What’s the best brush cleaner?

The above method for how to clean your makeup brushes, and how to dry them, should be a perfectly effective way to clean makeup brushes but if you aren’t satisfied with the water method, there are a number of simple makeup cleansers, as well as brush-cleaning specific products on the market. We recommend:

FURTHER READING: Natural vs synthetic makeup brushes: What’s the difference?

How NOT to clean makeup brushes

One thing you absolutely can’t do to cheat is put your makeup brushes in the washing machine or dishwasher – all this will do is overheat the bristles and glue that attaches them to the handle.

Put that little bit of effort in and the results will make you very grateful you did, your skin will be thanking you for a long time.

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