Inspiring DIY projects, beauty recipes and advice to green your daily routine.

How To Clean Makeup Brushes Naturally

Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 in Green Clean, Skin & Hair Care | 3 comments

Replacing disposable or one-time use makeup applicators with reusable makeup brushes is the green thing to do but you have to clean them regularly to keep them sanitary. Reusable makeup brushes collect dirt, oil and dead skin from your face and that can turn them into a breeding ground for bacteria. So let’s talk about how you can easily clean makeup brushes naturally.

Before you begin, collect everything you need.

  • all your dirty makeup brushes
  • brush guards
  • 3 cups
  • a plate
  • clean towel (optional)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • castile soap (or any mild soap)
  • warm water
  • white vinegar

Now your ready to start cleaning your brushes. Throughout the cleaning process remember to be gentle with your brushes. Don’t press the bristles too hard, splay the bristles or tug at the bristles. Also keep in mind that you are only cleaning the bristles, you don’t want to dip the shaft of the brush into the water or vinegar since it may ruin the the glue that keeps the bristles on the brush.

  1. Soapy water, vinegar, extra virgin olive oilIn one of the cups mix warm water and castile soap to make a bath for your brushes.
  2. Fill another cup with enough vinegar to dip the bristles of your longest brush.
  3. Pour a small puddle of extra virgin olive oil on a plate.
  4. Dip a dirty makeup brush in the olive oil and run it back and forth across the plate until it stops leaving dirty streaks. This step helps clean the brush, but it’s also important if you have natural bristle brushes because the oil conditions the bristles to keep them soft.
  5. Next, dip the brush in the soapy water.
  6. Makeup brushes drying in brush gaurdsRemove the brush from the soapy water and gentle swirl it in the palm of your hand.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until the brush is clean.
  8. Gently squeeze the bristles to remove excess water.
  9. Dip the bristles in white vinegar to sanitize them, then rinse them under a faucet with warm water.
  10. If you want to clean the handle of the brush, wipe it with a moist, clean towel.
  11. Place the brush in a brush guard, leaving about an inch of the guard past the bristles. Always pull the brush through the brush guard by the handle to keep from bending the bristles.
  12. Stand the brush on the brush guard, bristles down, in a cup to dry. It’s obvious you wouldn’t want to dry your brush by standing it on the bristles alone because that would ruin them, but most people don’t realize that standing it on it’s handle to dry will cause the water to seep into the shaft of the brush, thus loosening the glue that hold the bristles on. Additionally, the water could cause wood handles to swell and split.

I know it looks like a lot of steps, but it probably took you longer to read this post than it will to clean your brushes, so get to it and let us know how it works out!

Nicole knows making small changes for the greener add up over time and hopes you’re inspired to make some changes of your own after reading her articles. She focuses on easy, green, homemade personal products and green living tips for city dwellers. Nicole lives in Pittsburgh, PA and you can find her on twitter at @_nlg_.

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  1. Haley

    I cleaned my brushes with this method and today all my brushes are greasy. Will they stay that way? It’s hard to put powder on.

    • Nicole

      Sorry to hear things didn’t go well, Haley. The brushes shouldn’t be oily. Try applying soap directly to the brushes to break up the oil, then wash it off with warm water. Do you have synthetic or natural hair brushes?

  2. Tyler Phillips

    I don’t use my brushes very often, but I want to know how to keep them clean. Thanks for sharing your way of cleaning. I will definitely try it.

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