How to Clean Hair Brushes: Easy Pro Tips

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How to Clean Hair Brushes: Easy Pro Tips

how to clean hair brushes easy pro tips infographic

Cleaning your hairbrush probably isn’t a regular thought or task on your cleaning to-do list. That’s totally okay though! Human hair may contain product residues, oil, loose hair strands, bacteria, and fungi, which get stuck on the bristle of hairbrushes. As a result, dirty hair brushes pose more harm than good to clean hair. But how and why should you clean it?

Regularly cleaning your brush will remove debris, product residue, and scalp oils that can accumulate on your hairbrush over time. But don’t worry your hairy little head. Here are a few of our best DIY tips, tricks, and methods for how to clean a hairbrush and keep it in the best condition.

How Often Should You Clean Your Hairbrushes?

Most hair professionals and even cleaning experts suggest cleaning your hairbrush at least once every week. But it really does depend on certain things like how often you use it as well as other factors, like how much hair you shed when you brush it and the amount of products you might use.

As a general rule of thumb, when you notice that your hairbrush starts to look gunky and has lint and fuzz on it, you should probably take a few minutes to clean it.

What You’ll Need:

Before you get started, you’ll need to make sure you have everything you need to properly clean your hairbrushes. Here are a few of the tools and products you might need during the cleaning process:

how to clean hair brushes tools and products

You should also make a note of what kind of hair brush and bristles you’re dealing with. You will most likely either have plastic bristles or natural fiber bristles, so we’ll give you a few methods to make sure you have the best results no matter how you clean your hairbrushes. Keep reading to find out how to make sure your hairbrush stays in the best condition possible.

How to Clean Plastic Hair brushes

Remove the Hair
The first step is obviously removing all of the built-up hair from your brush’s bristles. You can use a pintail comb, your fingers, or a pair of tweezers to pull out all the hair caught in the brush. Get as much hair as you can out before cleaning, as it makes it easier to remove other debris and buildup. To really speed up their process easier, we recommend removing loose hair from your hairbrush daily or after using it. Using a brush tangled with hair might have negative effects on your hair over time.

Fill a bowl or your sink with warm water and add a bit of your favorite shampoo or gentle soap into it. Swish your hairbrush around in the solution repeatedly to loosen debris and pick up suds. Let your hairbrush soak bristles-down in the water for several minutes and periodically swish it around to further loosen things up. While you’re doing this, your sink or the bowl will fill with dirty water so you’ll need to drain and refill the basin when you’re ready to rinse.

Scrub with Toothbrush
After allowing your hairbrush to soak, it should be noticeably easier to clean and get rid of the grime buildup. To remove all that nasty stuff you can use a toothbrush, or your fingers if you don’t have any toothbrushes available, to scrub your hairbrush.

Scrub the spaces between the bristles and the handle with the toothbrush to loosen and get rid of any dirt. If there is any remaining grime from hair products in the hairbrush, you can sprinkle a bit of baking soda around the brush and keep scrubbing. The baking soda can serve as a mild abrasive to help clean out the grease and grime from the buildup.

Rinse and Dry
Now that you’ve finished scrubbing your hairbrush, its time to rinse the brush. Run your brush under some lukewarm water so no soap residue or baking soda remains. Make sure you rinse the brush thoroughly and completely so that none of the residue comes in contact with your hair. If your hairbrush is cushioned, you might need to squeeze it out so no water remains allowing for bacteria to develop.

If you can’t squeeze all the water out, that’s totally okay because anything you can’t remove will evaporate on its own when left to dry out. Shake out any excess water from your brush and place it on a towel with the bristles down and let it air dry for several hours or overnight if necessary.

How to Clean Natural Bristle Hair brushes

how to clean hair brushes hairbrush in bathroom sink

Remove the Hair
Like with plastic bristle brushes, you’ll need to remove all the hair on the brush’s bristles. You can take out hair using a tweezer, or a pintail comb, same as before. You can also use your fingers to pull the hair out if you don’t have either of those available. You can also find tools that are specifically made for cleaning hairbrushes if you want to take your cleaning routine to the next level.

After you remove as much hair as possible from the bristles, fill up a bowl wide enough for the bristles or your sink with plenty of lukewarm water. Add about 1 teaspoon of a gentle and sulfate-free shampoo, like those from GM Reverie or Davines to the water. This will make sure that the brush’s bristles won’t break down when washing it.

Put your hairbrush in the bowl or sink bristles-down, and let the bristles soak in the soapy water for about 10 minutes. Note: If your brush has a natural wooden handle, it cannot soak in water when being cleaned. It can get wet, but it should be allowed to fully air dry without direct heat if it does.

Take your natural-bristle brush out of the bowl or sink and then use your fingers or a toothbrush to scrub the all the spaces between your brush’s bristles. Make sure you work from bristles to base using your fingers or toothbrush combined with the sudsy water to wash all the grime buildup away.

Rinse & Dry
After scrubbing the hairbrush clean of buildup and residue, drain the sink or bowl of dirty water. You don’t want any of the soapy residue from washing to remain in the basin. Run your brush under some lukewarm water until it comes out completely clean. After rinsing, place the brush bristles-down on a towel to fully dry for several hours or overnight.

How Often Should You Change Hairbrushes?

As with most personal tools and products, regular use can wear out a hairbrush and make it less effective over time, no matter how often and well you wash it. How often you switch out your hairbrush can depend on a few different factors like the quality of the brush and the number of products you use daily on your hair that can create buildup on the brush.

With all that in mind, most haircare and cleaning professionals will suggest replacing your hairbrush about every six to twelve months, basically once or twice each year.

More Hacks & Methods

How to Clean Hair Brushes with Vinegar and Baking Soda
If you’re looking for a different method that gets an even deeper clean, try our favorite go-to cleaning products. Vinegar and a little bit of baking soda can make a huge difference around the house, and hairbrushes are no exception. Here is how to properly use vinegar and baking soda to clean your hairbrushes:
  • Make a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar and dip your brush in it bristles down.
  • After you have soaked the brush, dip it in baking soda or sprinkle a generous amount of the powder around the brush.
  • Scrub around the bristles and base of the brush with a toothbrush until your are satisfied with how clean it is.
  • Rinse the brush thoroughly under warm running water when you are done rinsing, then lay the brush on a towel and let it air dry with the bristles down.
How to Clean Hair Brushes with Dryer Sheets
You know how we love to repurpose products from around the house to make cleaning projects easier. Hairbrushes are no different as you can actually use dryer sheets to clean your hairbrush and keep it clean. Here’s what you need to do:
  • Grab a bowl and fill it with warm water, then put two dryer sheets into the water.
  • Set your brushes bristle side down into the bowl and let the brush soak for about an hour or two.
  • Rinse the brush thoroughly after allowing to to soak, then pat the brush and bristles on a towel, then leave it to air dry bristles down.
How to Clean Hair Brushes Lint

Lint can be a bit trickier to remove from hair brushes than hair cause of its composition. If the lint and buildup hasn’t been fully removed even after thoroughly cleaning the brush, we have the fix. Use the toothbrush you used to clean the brush to scrub the lint from the base of the brush. We know this is tedious and it might take some time, but it will get the job done pretty well. Once all of the lint has been removed, rinse the hairbrush well under some warm water and then let it air dry with the bristles down like usual.

How to Clean Hair Brushes from Dandruff

If you have dandruff you already understand the struggle. As a refresher, the skin on your scalp flakes off as little white particles into your hair and sometimes down onto your clothes. It can be a bit unsightly, but you can easily cure the condition with special shampoos. Nonetheless, the little flakes can buildup in your hairbrush and look dirty so it will need more regular cleaning throughout the week. There aren’t any special instructions for cleaning hairbrushes with dandruff, all you have to do is follow the cleaning guides above more frequently.

How to Clean Hair Brushes that Have Come in Contact with Lice
If you or someone in your home has or recently had a lice breakout, its important to keep your hairbrushes clean and well sanitized. Lice breakouts are no joke and need to be treated seriously everywhere around the home. Here is how to properly clean and care for your hairbrushes after a lice breakout:
  • Thoroughly pull out all of the hair from the hairbrush so that there is absolutely none remaining.
  • Fill a bowl or sink with warm water and add a generous amount of medicated shampoo or distilled white vinegar.
  • Set the brush in the soapy water or vinegar solution bristles down and allow it to soak for an hour or two.
  • Rinse the brush extremely well under warm running water and let it dry bristles down on a towel.
  • You may want to repeat this process several times to ensure that the brush has been well cleaned, and your should also be sure to change the water between washing if you are cleaning multiple brushes.

How Do Stylist & Professionals Do It?

Ever wondered how big salons keep their hair brushes and tools clean, we can share their secret. If you’ve visited hair salons within the last few years, you’ve probably noticed them soaking their combs and brushes in a solution near their workspace. The liquid they are using to soak their tools in is called Barbicide.

how to clean hair brushes Barbicide sanitizer

Many salons clean their hair brushes, combs, and shaver heads by dipping them or soaking them in Barbicide then washing them with soap and water. If you plan on using this product, be sure to thoroughly and completely read the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings before using it in and around your home or professional workplace.

Hairbrushes are universally necessary haircare tools that need to be cleaned almost as regularly as they are used. Not cleaning or caring for your hairbrush can affect the overall health and wellbeing of your hair.

We hope you’ve learned a few helpful tips and tricks that will keep your hairbrush clean and effective for every use. Remember that even with regular cleaning, you will still need to replace you brush each year.