How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes and Sponges

Kastle Waserman
by Kastle Waserman

Makeup is something many of us use daily. Our makeup brushes work hard to put on our foundations, blushes, contour and eyeshadows. But are you cleaning them as often as you should?

Dirt and bacteria can quickly build up on brushes, especially if you don’t store them away in a closed container after each use. Facial oils cling to them, makeup builds up on the bristles, and you may not be getting the true color of your makeup if you’re reusing a dirty brush. Not to mention you may be dragging bacteria across your face, which can lead to breakouts. Ewww, nobody wants that!

Let me show you how to clean your makeup brushes and sponges.

Daily Clean

A makeup brush spray cleaner is a quick way to clean your brushes daily. Simply spray and wipe the brush on a towel to remove the makeup, oils and dirt that gather on the brush after each use. Be sure also to use a clean towel to wipe them on.

Quick Clean During Application

If you reuse your brushes for different shades of eyeshadow, Ulta came out with a pan cleaner that you can quickly wipe brushes on to clean them to switch colors. The sponge grips to the shadow on the brush and pulls it off. Magic!

Deep Clean

You should give your brushes a regular deep clean with a makeup brush shampoo at least once a week if you use your brushes a lot. Be sure to get a cleaner made especially for makeup brushes. Regular soaps can dry out the bristles, especially if they are made of natural hair. If you’re using expensive high-quality makeup brushes, you don’t want to ruin them by not using the right cleaner. 

After cleaning, lay them on a towel to air dry. Let the brush hang over the edge of a counter so it dries on the underside as well.

To clean:

  1. Wet the brush under the faucet with lukewarm water.
  2. Wipe on the soap, gently rub the bristles to loosen the makeup.
  3. Run under water until they look clean.
  4. Always point the bristles down to avoid getting water into the handle shaft with can breakdown the glue that holds them together and cause them to shed bristles.

Makeup Sponge Cleaning

Your foundation sponges should be cleaned after each use. Don’t let the foundation build up on them. This will lead to bacteria and the sponge with harden from the build-up. I love the Beauty Blender sponge cleaner, it quickly and easily removes foundation from sponges, even those stay-all-day formulas. 

To clean, wet the sponge under the faucet, rub it onto the soap where the foundation is heavy on the sponge. Run the sponge under the tap and squeeze until it looks like the foundation is gone.

After cleaning, let your sponge air dry. I like the Beauty Blender sponge holder as well. It allows sponges to dry through the ventilation holes but keeps them clean at the same time. Replace your sponges every three to four months if used often.


While it’s so accessible to keep brushes out on a stand on your vanity, be aware that dust, hairspray and other airborne grime can drift and cling to them. If you keep them in a stand, try putting the whole thing inside a cabinet or keep them stored in a brush holder and stashed in a drawer. Toss out brushes when they start to fray. They won’t apply your makeup properly and could be clinging to dirt and bacteria.

Hope you enjoy a future of clean makeup applicators and gorgeous makeup looks!

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