Here’s How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes And Sponges

You’d be shocked at how much damage dirty makeup brushes and sponges can do to your otherwise perfect skin. We use makeup brushes and sponges daily to help contour and paint our faces, but how often do any of us clean these tools we use so often?

Expert dermatologists and makeup artists recommend giving our makeup brushes and sponges at least a good weekly clean. Be honest, who hasn’t even cleaned their makeup brushes in the last couple of months? No judgement here; time flies when your makeup looks this good!

The bad news is that if we don’t keep on top of cleaning our makeup brushes and sponges, bacteria can build quickly. 

Don’t worry; there’s still time to mend your ways and keep your makeup routine as squeaky clean as your skincare regime! Here are our top tips on how to clean makeup brushes and sponges. From how often you should clean them, to how to do it and what you should use, you’ll never have to worry about dirty brushes again!

Table of contents:

How often should you clean your makeup brushes?

What should you use to clean your makeup brushes?

How to clean makeup brushes

How often should you clean your makeup sponge?

What should you use to clean your makeup sponge?

How to clean makeup sponges 

How often should you clean your makeup brushes?

a makeup brush is being cleaned in water

Dermatologists and makeup artists recommend cleaning your makeup brushes at least once a week to avoid a buildup of product and bacteria. Makeup brushes are used on your face, so if there are bacteria on the brush, you’re transferring it straight to your skin which is a big skincare no-no, and if you’re prone to acne, you could be making it worse. 

Using dirty makeup brushes can clog your pores, irritate your skin, and expose your skin to bacterial infections. 

Cleaning your makeup brushes once a week isn’t always realistic with a busy schedule; makeup experts such as Bobbi Brown have claimed that you can leave most of your makeup brushes for around a month before cleaning. However, any brushes you use around your eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month as the skin in this area is much more sensitive.

Not only will your skin thank you, but you’ll find other benefits, such as extending the life of your makeup brushes. Clean bristles make for good makeup application. If they’re full of oils, old products and bacteria, then you’ll find that your makeup is spotty and difficult to blend out, so make sure you’re sticking to these guidelines:

  • Try to clean makeup brushes once a week.
  • Clean them at least once a month if time is an issue.
  • You should clean the brushes used around the eyes twice a month.

What should you use to clean your makeup brushes?

makeup brushes in a pot stood on a ceramic bathroom sink

Aside from the health benefits, the best part about cleaning your makeup brushes is that it costs you hardly anything to do! All you need is warm water and gentle soap. 

There are specialist brush cleansers if you’re feeling fancy, but water and soap will do the trick and extend the life of your makeup brushes at no extra cost. What have you got to lose?

You’ll notice that we said gentle soap, but this isn’t just to be kind to sensitive skin. Regular soap can dry out the bristles of your makeup brush, especially if it is made from natural hair, so gentle soap will ensure that you don’t accidentally damage your makeup brushes while trying to keep them clean.

How to clean makeup brushes

Cleaning your makeup brushes is not as simple as dunking them into soapy water. There’s a technique you should follow if you want to look after the condition of your brushes as well as keep them clean:

  1. Wet the bristles of the brush with lukewarm water – make sure that you don’t also wet the base of the bristles as these are glued to the brush base and could become loose and shed
  2. Put a drop of gentle soap or makeup brush cleanser in the palm of your hand.
  3. Gently massage the tips of the brush bristles in your palm.
  4. Rinse the bristles off, and avoid the bristle base, so they don’t become loose and shed.
  5. Use a clean towel to squeeze out any excess moisture.
  6. Reshape the makeup brush head.
  7. Hang the bristles off the edge of a counter to dry as drying on a hard surface will cause the head to dry in a funny shape while drying on a towel could cause the bristles to become mildewy, and drying vertically could mean water drips to the bristle base and loosens the glue.

How often should you clean your makeup sponge?

a manicured hand holds a pink makeup sponge against a pink bathroom

Much like makeup brushes, it’s recommended that you frequently wash your makeup sponge to keep it from spreading bacteria to your face. However, the key difference is that most popular makeup sponge brands recommend that you completely replace the sponge at least once every three months.

Sponges are much more absorbent than makeup brushes, so your makeup sponge will hold any excess product, bacteria, oil and dirt and even sprays in the atmosphere, such as hairspray, perfume and more. Even if you clean your makeup sponge each week, it won’t be easy to salvage over time.

What should you use to clean your makeup sponge?

a make up sponge dipped in a pool of foundation

Warm water and either gentle soap or a makeup cleanser are still the best tools for the job when it comes to cleaning makeup sponges. If you want to get a little fancier, try mixing a spot of gentle soap with a blob of baby shampoo and a dash of olive oil or baby oil to give your makeup sponge a nourishing soak. 

How to clean makeup sponges

The technique for cleaning makeup sponges is really simple! Whether you’ve made your own cleaning solution or have gone for the simple soap and water technique, follow one of these methods to get your makeup sponge squeaky clean:

How to clean makeup sponges with soap 

  • Soak your sponge in warm water (it should expand and release some dirt from within)
  • Soap up your hands, then use small, circular motions to rub the makeup sponge in the palm of your hand. You should see the dirt and excess makeup leave the sponge.
  • Rinse and repeat until no residue is left behind, then leave the sponge to dry.

Soak your makeup sponge in warm, soapy water

  1. Fill a sink with water and your chosen cleanser or soap.
  2. Submerge the sponge.
  3. Allow the sponge to soak for 30 minutes. 
  4. Squeeze the sponge underwater twice to check that all excess residue is gone and that it looks clean.
  5. Dry with a towel and then leave to dry overnight on a clean surface.
  6. Ring out the sponge the next morning to ensure it’s fully dry. 

How to clean your makeup sponge with olive oil or baby oil 

A great antibacterial way to clean your makeup sponge if you don’t have an official cleanser is by cleaning it with olive oil and washing up liquid. Try this method for a fast and effective way to keep your cosmetic tools fresh:

  1. Mix water, olive oil, baby shampoo, or gentle washing-up liquid into a bowl. 
  2. Dip your sponge into your mixture before running it under a hot tap to squeeze out any residue or excess product.
  3. Repeat until your sponge is clean, then to remove the oil, squeeze the makeup sponge, then rinse it with a facial cleanser to remove anything left inside. 
  4. Alternatively, you could substitute your homemade remedy with micellar water or cleanser – adding that instead to water and following the same steps.

Remember, most makeup sponges are highly-absorbent, so no matter how clean you think you’ve made yours, there could still be some bacteria you cannot see. No matter how you clean your makeup sponge, never lock it away in your makeup bag whilst it’s still damp, as this can cause the bacteria to grow. Always leave your makeup sponges to dry out thoroughly before storing them away. 

Whether you prefer using brushes or sponges to apply your makeup, make sure that you stick to a regular cleaning routine to make sure that you get the best out of your makeup tools without creating any problems for your skin! 

Shop Beauty Base For Your Makeup Application Essentials

If your make-up brushes and sponges are past their best, why not shop the range available at Beauty Base? Browse our collections of makeup brushes to find options from leading beauty brands such as Brush Works. Then explore our makeup sponges for more options to add to your beauty bag. 

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