Never Clean Your Makeup Brushes Like This. Ever.

The Wrong Way To Clean Your Makeup Brushes

So in the midst of all your makeup glory you realize your makeup brushes are filthy. You may be one of many who rarely, if ever, cleans your brushes. You may think it’s a good idea to soak those bad boys and they’ll easily come clean just like everything else that’s uber dirty. Nope! Pump the breaks. Hit pause. Abandon ship. Never clean your makeup brushes like this. Ever.

Fight the urge to grab a jar, fill it with soap and water to soak your brushes in it. It’s a bad idea, very bad. Don’t do it, ever…unless you feel inclined to murder your brushes. Here is why you should never soak makeup brushes.

Soaking: The Wrong Way To Clean Makeup Brushes

Submerging your brushes in water will loosen the adhesive that holds the bristles in place. Think a bit of shedding is annoying? Try having most or all of the bristles falling out in clumps until your brush is useless!

Soaking: The Wrong Way To Clean Makeup Brushes

Water and wood do not mix! Soaking your makeup brushes will eventually cause your wooden brush handles to rot and/or split. You may start to notice a bit of “bubbling” on your brush handles at first.

Early Signs Of Makeup Brush Damage From Soaking To Clean

So how can you clean makeup brushes? Wet only the brush hairs with warm water, add a bit of brush cleanser or mild shampoo and massage the bristles a bit. I like are Ultra Brush Soap by EnKore Makeup (Koren Zander) and Clean Brush Shampoo which you can get from my pals at Frends Beauty. If I use shampoo I usually opt for baby shampoo, DermOrganic or Bumble and Bumble. There are even tools available to aide safe and easy brush cleaning, like the Brush Egg.

Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Gently rinse thoroughly and lay flat to dry. I lay mine on a paper towel letting the brush head hang over the edge of the counter. They seem to dry faster that way since the air can circulate to the bristles from all angles. Never sit your makeup brushes upright to dry. The water will drain down to the handles and sometimes the brush hair shape turns out wonky. You should clean your brushes at least once a week. In between you can spot clean using brush spray like Dante Makeup Brush Cleanser or Parian Spirit. Next time you think about soaking brushes remember this is:

The Wrong Way To Clean Your Makeup Brushes

Use sponge applicators instead? They have to be cleaned too. Don’t soak them. Now I’m not the makeup brush police so it’s your choice how you clean them. I’m just trying to save you a pretty penny because replacing your tools due to brush homicide can be costly! Oh yea, for the love of puppies and Christmas please do not put your brushes in the dishwasher or shower! Laying your brushes on the shower floor while you shower will not clean your brushes. Yes, I know people who’ve done this. Stop. That’s all.

How often do you clean your makeup brushes and sponges? Have you ever soaked your brushes? If you’re one of my non-makeup wearing readers and you know someone who is cleaning their brushes wrong, tell them. Friends don’t let friends ruin makeup brushes! πŸ˜‰



  1. Aleya Bamdad
    August 19, 2014 / 4:23 PM

    Great tips! The better you care for your brushes the better they’ll work.

  2. erikatheicyone
    August 19, 2014 / 6:00 PM

    People. Shower. With their brushes. Allrighty, then. LOL I clean my brushes after each use as I get skeeved at the thought of using dirty brushes. Sam with my Beauty Blenders. Washed after each use.

  3. August 19, 2014 / 8:09 PM

    OMG hilarious! I use the Cinema Secrets brush cleaner and love it. No need to lay my brushes down to dry for more than 5 minutes

    • August 23, 2014 / 10:16 PM

      Ooh I’m going to try that, I love Cinema Secrets products!

  4. August 19, 2014 / 8:16 PM

    Awesome post! Makeup brushes are wayyyy too expensive to murder!

  5. August 19, 2014 / 8:20 PM

    Such great tips! Sooooo many people try to do their brushes like that. lol… The better you care for your brushes, the longer they last and the better they work for sure! Great post!!

  6. August 19, 2014 / 11:23 PM

    Great tips! I learned the “never soak” thing with regular paint brushes!

  7. cindyprimebeauty
    August 19, 2014 / 11:53 PM

    I learned the hard way–I soaked some brushes in the sink and the paint came off the wooden handles. Awesome post!

  8. August 20, 2014 / 12:57 AM

    Just seeing your brushes sit like that for the picture is giving me heebie jeebies

    • August 23, 2014 / 10:14 PM

      I debated 3-4 days whether I would do this post or not because I didn’t want to mess up my brushes. Luckily I found these ones I don’t really use!

  9. Justina
    August 20, 2014 / 2:30 AM

    LOL that made me laugh. I used to clean my brushes like that which is probably why I am always needing to replace them. Hate learning things the hard way!

    • August 23, 2014 / 10:10 PM

      Oh Justina, you just wanted a reason to buy new brushes. Admit it, this is a safe place. πŸ˜‰

  10. August 20, 2014 / 2:44 AM

    I cringe seeing brushes in water like that!

  11. August 20, 2014 / 2:49 AM

    cleaning brushes on the shower floor? eeew, yuck. Blargh. I learned about Dr. Bronner’s soap from Nouveau Cheap, and that’s what I’ve been using to clean my brushes. Sundays are usually …usually.. brush cleaning days. I like to use a lot of brushes.

    • August 23, 2014 / 10:08 PM

      Right, just the thought is so disgusting! The girl I know that did that is young but still, I was like why?! I’ll have to check out Dr. Bronner’s soap.

  12. FabZilla_Kath
    August 20, 2014 / 3:08 AM

    Great tips! I don’t soak makeup brushes because common sense says don’t πŸ™‚

  13. August 20, 2014 / 4:19 AM

    Oi… looking at that picture just gave me chills. lol I remember talking to a friend about 2 years ago… she was just recently into makeup brushes and she never washed them before use and never washed them period and when I told her she needed to… she did similar to your photo above. lol I’m glad she knows better. lol

    • August 23, 2014 / 9:56 PM

      My friend was the same way. Brushes so filthy after months of use & no cleaning. When I told her to clean them & she put them in a glass of water my stomach turned, it was so gross!

  14. August 20, 2014 / 5:19 AM

    When I worked for MAC this was done on the regular! Awful!

    • August 23, 2014 / 9:53 PM

      Seriously?! While I was working on this post I kept asking myself who would actually do this other than a newbie. Lol

  15. August 20, 2014 / 7:29 AM

    IΒ΄ve never even thought of cleaning my brushes like on the brush murder photo πŸ˜€

  16. August 20, 2014 / 9:28 AM

    Yea I don’t do the submerge technique but I do use Dawn dish soap. It was recommended by Sam Fine.

    • August 23, 2014 / 9:50 PM

      I’ve used Dawn before. I didn’t like using this Ajax much though, it even makes my hands feel extremely dry.

  17. BTBAshley
    August 20, 2014 / 1:22 PM

    I just about spit my coffee out when I saw your opening photo when I screamed: NO! Greart post. Sharing it on social because it needs to be shared!

    • August 23, 2014 / 10:22 PM

      Lol right! People are seriously doing it this way…the brush killing must end!

  18. Noelle
    August 20, 2014 / 2:01 PM

    Yikes! I’ve never heard of submerging the brushes to clean them. How do you even get all the product off?

  19. August 21, 2014 / 5:11 AM

    Oh lord, who is dishing up the advice of soaking makeup brushes? Where would people even get that idea? I felt sick looking at that photo!

    • August 23, 2014 / 9:43 PM

      Unfortunately soaking brushes is floating around Pinterest as a how to guide for cleaning brushes. I feel bad for all the destroyed brushes out there!

  20. August 21, 2014 / 12:58 PM

    Yeah…I am extremely careful with my makeup brushes. They are expensive!!

  21. Allison @neversaydiebeauty
    August 21, 2014 / 10:44 PM

    I use baby shampoo or the brush cleaner spray from Ulta or goat milk soap. I bought an artist brush drier for $5 at Michael’s w/ coupon so I could hang my brushes to dry. I try to be careful

  22. Esha Gupta
    August 27, 2014 / 8:16 AM

    OMG..I would never soak my precious brushes in water.. I always wash the bristles with a mild shampoo, will follow your tips. πŸ™‚

  23. August 29, 2014 / 4:08 PM

    Thanks for this – I’ve been doing mine more or less properly but good to know I’m on the right track! πŸ™‚

  24. Kristina
    August 29, 2014 / 5:00 PM

    ew who even soaks their brushes?! haha that’s crazy
    good thing you’re giving tips though, I’m sure newbies would appreciate them πŸ™‚

  25. Alice Hughes
    August 29, 2014 / 7:49 PM

    Great tips for brush cleaning! I’m always super careful with mine xx

  26. Rosie
    October 13, 2014 / 12:43 PM

    I’ve been hit or miss, I wasn’t sure what is the best way to clean them. I’m glad I found this post!

  27. Cristina Popescu
    December 4, 2015 / 7:36 AM

    Great tips, thanks!

  28. Sandy Pincombe
    February 7, 2016 / 7:31 PM

    Thanks for the hints. I have only used baby shampoo but may purchase a brush cleaner

  29. joyce chatman
    February 10, 2016 / 8:15 PM

    This is a very good article on the what not to do to your brushes. I never put mind in a jar.

  30. Gabrielle
    October 8, 2017 / 12:19 PM

    I made this mistake yesterday. I noticed something was wrong after the wood on some of my brushes split. I thought it was the quality of the brushes, then I came across this article and realized I made a mistake. I was looking up YouTube tutorials on how to wash makeup brushes and most of the girls were washing them by soaking them in water. Now, I learned from my mistake and won’t do this again. It’s amazing how people make YouTube videos showing you how to do things when they are not doing it the correct way and now someone else is going to be doing it wrong. For instance, doing makeup or washing makeup brushes.