How I Clean My Make Up Brushes: Deep and Spot Cleansing

I really should wash my brushes more often that I do, but I tend to go through them all until they're all manky and then finally wash them all in one go rather than to wash my favourites more often.  Some people have the same attitude towards dishes!  I try to deep clean (water & shampoo) my brushes at least one a month, and I spot clean with a brush cleaning fluid more often, normally to remove dark eye shadows or bronzer on a daily basis.  Luckily I don't have problem skin, otherwise I'd need to be deep cleaning them at least once a week.

So, start with some dirty brushes:

Gather the materials you need:

I like baby shampoo.  It's meant to be mild but I it's actually a very good cleaner, it lathers well and I got this big bottle of it in the £1 shop.  I squeeze some into a small bowl rather than have to squeeze a blob from the bottle for each brush.  You go through a lot less of it this way too.

Grab a clean towel:

Grab an any old (but clean) cloth, I use an ex-facecloth:

Brush guards are an optional extra.  You can order these from HERE and they cost around $5.  They're great for helping your brush keep it's shape after a wash, and also excellent for travelling.

And of course, a sink filled with luke warm water.  Too cold and the brushes won't clean up properly, too hot and you will risk melting the glue that holds the bristles together in the ferule.

Grab a brush and dip the bristles into the water.

Dip the tip of the bristles into the shampoo in the bowl.

Swirl the brush with the shampoo on it onto the cloth or your hand until it lathers and you can see the make up loosening.

Dip the brush into the water to rinse off the soap, and you can also run it under the cold tap to make sure it's fully rinsed.  Take care not to submerge the base of the bristles near the ferule or over time, this will ruin the glue holding it all together, your brush will start shedding and will expire quicker!

Squeeze out the water gently and shape the bristles 

There are a few different ways you can leave your brushes to dry.  You can place them on a clean, dry towel.  Leave a bit of space around each brush to speed up the drying process.  You can also balance the brush so that it hangs over the side of a desk, etc, so that the bristles will dry into as natural a shape as possible.  With my favourite brushes I pop on a brush guard and place them upright with the bristles facing down, or lay them on a towel.  However with a brush guard on it does take a little longer to dry.

Never stand the brushes up with the bristles facing upwards as the moisture will seep down into the ferule = bad things will happen.

And r
emember never to use artificial heat on your brush, like a hairdryer or placing near a radiator as this could damage the bristles, and again melt the glue in the ferule.

All clean!

It took well over an hour to clean them all, one by one.  I left them to dry overnight.

Now, onto spot cleaning...

As I said, I do this on a daily basis and keep a clean cloth on hand.

I have two types of brush cleaners: MAC and e.l.f.  The MAC one (£8) is more slightly more effective at removing product (and pink!).  But the e.l.f. one smells lovely and is much cheaper (£3.50).

The MAC bottle is annoying in that there's no spray, so I picked up the little spray bottle below from Superdrug for about £1.50 and decanted some of the MAC cleaner into it.

I spray the fluid directly onto the brush bristles, or onto the cloth, and swirl the brush onto the cloth until there's no trace of make up is left on the cloth.  It takes a few minutes for the bristles to dry.

Happy cleaning!


  1. Thanks for these tips! I always end up putting off cleaning my brushes, but I know it needs to be done.


  2. I need to order those brush guards! Have you heard of cleaning your brushes with extra virgin olive oil and antibacterial hand soap? I tried it last weekend and it works pretty well.

  3. Sorry, I meant antibacterial DISH soap ; )

  4. Kat this is a whole new world for me! I have never seen as many make up brushes in my life!
    Adele x

  5. I pretty much do the same as well. I wash my face brushes once a week but I don't have as many as you, and I wash everything once a monthish regardless. I don't have brush guards, I just hang them off the edge of my bathroom shelf. I've been using the Bare Minerals spot cleanser, but I'm not happy with it. I might try the E.L.F.

    Do you have the MAC 219? Mine is stained like a bitch.

  6. This is such a fantastic post because I think so many people splash out on extremely expensive brushes but arent too sure how to clean them to keep them at their best! Awesome tips and the pics are great too :)

    P.S. I'm seriously jealous of your brush collection. it looks awesome!

  7. For the price of all those brushes you could have got yourself a nice set of MACs! Where do you keep them all!!? You have a brush obsession woman!

    I use baby shampoo too. And the brush guards are great. Gotta get a little bottle like that for travelling.

  8. @Marie a la Mode - I haven't actually, I wouldn't mind trying antibacterial soap, but I wouldn't use olive oil as the last time I used it as a treatment in my hair it wouldn't wash out and I eventually had to use vinegar to get the coating off my hair!

    @Robyn - yeah I have the 219, only recently came around to it's virtues after thinking it was crap for ages, so mine isn't too stained up yet, but it will be if I use it with my cream eyeshadows!

    @Angel - yeah, but you know me, I spend a fortune on tat instead of buying ONE good thing! I really am obsessed with brushes, but hey, I don't smoke or do drugs, and only get drunk for free on cruise ships! Make up is my hobby!

    Kat x

  9. Very good post! :) I loooove Brush Guards, they're great! :) Btw I need to wash some brushes lol :/


  10. Very nice tip!
    if you want to you can take a look at my blog!


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