Cleaning Makeup Brushes

I am the first to admit that I take hygiene a bit more serious than the average person. I hate germs and being sick. The idea of sharing makeup or using dirty brushes literally makes me sick to my stomach. As such, I have a serious brush cleaning routine.

I clean the makeup brushes that I use every evening. I’m not so hyper militant that they must be cleaned immediately. They can wait until I get home from work. I threw together a DIY daily brush cleaner that works really well.


  • 3 ounce travel size spray bottle
  • Antibacterial dish soap
  • Virgin olive oil
  • 91% isopropyl alcohol
  • Clear baby shampoo
  • Skin So Soft (from Avon)
  • Leave-In Conditioner
  • Filtered water

My measurements aren’t an exact science. I mix together 1 teaspoon of antibacterial dish soap, 1 teaspoon of baby shampoo, 1/2 a teaspoon of olive oil, 1/2 a teaspoon of Skin So Soft, and 1/2 a teaspoon of leave-in conditioner. I shake this up real well. Then I add alcohol until the bottle is about 2/3 of the way full. That ends up being 7.5-8 teaspoons of alcohol. Or around 2 tablespoons of alcohol if you are particular like that. I fill the bottle the rest of the way full of water. Shake it again and you’re ready to do daily cleaning.

Between the dish soap and alcohol, germs don’t stand a chance. The shampoo is a general cleaner as well. The olive oil, Skin So Soft, and leave-in conditioner work to keep the bristles from drying out from the alcohol. Also, the Skin So Soft and leave-in conditioner help to mask the smell of the alcohol and olive oil.

If you are short on ingredients, you can do this with alcohol, water, and leave-in conditioner or olive oil. But it smells really bad.

I spray this directly on my used brushes and swish them back and forth across a towel until they stop showing color on the towel. After that, they go into a tote (separated from my unused brushes). I still use those brushes throughout the week but they don’t go back in with my sanitized brushes.

At the end of the week, I take every brush that is in the tote into the bathroom for deep cleaning. This takes longer than daily cleaning due to the amount of brushes, but the ingredients are much less.


  • Olive Oil
  • Antibacterial Soap
  • Cleaning mitt
  • Warm Water

For this, my tote serves a dual purpose. The tote holds my brushes out of the general population of unused brushes until I can clean them. And when I go to clean them, I use the lid of the tote like a plate.

I wet my brushes with warm water, careful to keep the water away from the handle and ferrule. I shake them once or twice to get the excess water out and then set them aside on the sink. On my “plate” I pour a soup of 2 parts antibacterial soap to 1 part olive oil side-by-side. If I have a bunch of brushes, I use more volume of these 2 ingredients versus if I have a few. No sense in wasting cleaning supplies.

To clean my brushes, I dip them into the center of the soup. Away from the soup, I swirl my brush on the plate to work it around the bristles. Then under running warm water, I carefully swirl the brush on my ELF cleaning mitt until I don’t see any more soap residue. I’m still careful to keep the water away from the handle and ferrule. I squeeze the water out of the bristles and look for any soap bubbles. If there are bubbles, I rinse the brush again. If there are none, I set the brush on a towel on the other side of the sink and move on to the next brush.

Once all my brushes are washed, I squeeze the brushes with the towel to get more water out of the bristles and then reshape the bristles with clean hands. I set them out on my dresser over a clean, dry towel and leave them overnight to dry. Usually I leave my ceiling fan running to help speed up the drying. Whenever possible, I fold the towel at the back to put the brushes at a slight angle and leave the bristles hanging over the edge of my dresser.

The next day, I use an antibacterial wipe to clean off the handles of the brushes and then return them to the general population of unused brushes.

As far as my makeup goes, I do a general sanitation sweep every few months. I use antibacterial wipes on all the surfaces I touch, on the outsides of the makeup containers, and on the insides of the containers wherever the plastic/metal shows through. I don’t go as far as sanitizing the actual makeup unless I’ve been sick. If I’ve been sick, I spray everything possible with alcohol. Eyeshadows, pressed powders, eyeliners, and cream lipsticks get spritzed. Liquid lipsticks and mascaras that I’ve used in the days leading up to getting sick are highly scrutinized to determine if I throw it out or take a chance on spreading germs again. Usually, I err on the side of caution and just throw it away. It hurts every time but it is better than getting a cold all over again.

Do you have a cleaning routine?

❤ Dee


2 thoughts on “Cleaning Makeup Brushes

  1. I truly appreciate the attention to detail and thoroughness that is avoiding cross contamination 🙂
    I have never sanitized my actual makeup though, I clean outside surfaces with antimicrobial wipes every week and brushes once a month (I don’t use them often). I am very cautious and mindful of hand washing and getting product out of containers.

    Liked by 1 person

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