Manolo for the Beauty » HowTo: Clean Your Hair Brushes




HowTo: Clean Your Hair Brushes

By Glinda

The lovely and superfantastic Libby asks:

 What is the best way to go about cleaning a hair brush?  I have long, curly hair and live in the swamps of tidewater Virginia, so I have to use product or risk looking like an ad for a bad 80′s perm. That usually means that gunk gets in my brush.  My usual solution is just to replace said brush when it gets gungy-looking, but there have been some nice brushes I’ve lost that way.

Libby, how you clean your hairbrushes depends on what kind of brushes you have. 

For your fairly cheap, sturdy plastic brushes, I simply lift all the excess hair out using either a comb or my fingers (depending on how much hair there is)  and throw them in the top rack of the dishwasher. I do the same for basic combs.  Eschew the heated dry option or it’s a good bet they will melt. 

Recommendations for how often you clean your brushes range from every day to once a month.  I think it varies, depending on how heavy your product usage is.  And really, just be aware of what’s building up on the brush and be proactive about getting it off in a timely manner, else you will be transferring everything from gunked-up product to dust right back onto your hair.  Blech.

But if you’ve got more expensive brushes, including those with nylon or natural bristles as well as wooden handles (such as the Cadillac of hairbrushes, the Mason Pearson) you’ve got a bit more work to do.  I find that the method below works on pretty much all hair brushes, regardless of type.  There are some who like to dip the brush into water, but my thinking is that the least amount of  exposure to water leads to a brush that lasts longer.  The rule should be: The More Expensive the Brush = Use the Least Amount of Water Possible.  That way, you can really get your money’s worth.  It’s completely possible for quality hair brushes, taken care of properly, to last a decade or more.

A good rule of thumb is to dry clean your brushes often, running  a narrow toothbrush (the easiest and cheapest tool) gently along the bristles horizontally,vertically, and diagonally along the bristles to dislodge dust and such.

However, when you notice some build-up, nothing but a good wet-washing will suffice.

1. Remove all excess hair, using a wide toothed comb at the base and lifting up hair and dirt as you move around the brush. 

2. Throw that crap away.

3. Run some lukewarm water, never hot.  Use a small amount of shampoo to make a soapy lather in the sink.

4. Dip the toothbrush, not your hair brush, into the soapy water.

5. Hold the hair brush so that the bristles are facing down, not the handle.

5. Gently run the toothbrush up and down the bristles, as well as diagonally.  Scrub the pad gently if you notice buildup on the pad as well.

6. Dip the toothbrush in some clean water and run it up and down the brush in the same manner in order to rinse off the soap.  Repeat as often as needed until it appears soap is gone.

7. Shake off any excess water.

7. Air-dry on a towel with the pad facing downward for the best results and the least amount of damage to the bristles.









4 Responses to “HowTo: Clean Your Hair Brushes”




  1. Klee Says:

    Mason Pearson brushes come with a cleaning brush that you run through with about once a week or so. I’ve had mine for well over a decade and it is still perfect.




  2. La Petite Acadienne Says:

    For non-Mason Pearsons, but a similar style, I saw these brush cleaners at the dollar store. They look like teeny tiny leaf rakes, and they work an absolute treat for cleaning hair and dust out of my hairbrush. I was stumped as to how to clean off the rest of the dust fuzzies and schmutz, though, so thank you so much for posting this, Glinda!




  3. Glinda Says:

    Thank Libby! :)




  4. wildflower Says:

    Is there any reason one has to use a brush? I use a medium-toothed comb, and I have thick, stick-straight hair that is very amenable to a brush. I’d guess that anyone with curly or wavy hair would have all the more reason to use a comb instead. What exactly does one need a brush for?












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