How to Deep Clean Hair Brushes

Hair brushes can become filled with gunk, making them look dirty and smell moldy, leading them to appear unattractive and stink. That is why Oregon-based lifestyle content creator known as cleanfluencer recommends cleaning them every two weeks for best results.

Start by removing all shed hair from the bristles with a tweezer or rat-tail comb, and combine lukewarm water and gentle, sulfate-free shampoo in equal proportions. Soak your brush for around 10 minutes then allow to air-dry before replacing into storage.

Table of Contents

1. Remove Hair

If you have been brushing your hair with an unclean and caked-on hairbrush, chances are it may be doing more harm than good for your strands. All that gunk and product build-up not only looks bad but may leave them flat and lifeless when used again – not ideal when brushing away dead ends in order to achieve healthier locks!

If your brushes contain both natural (like boar bristles or horsehair) and synthetic bristles, it is crucial that they are regularly cleaned. While natural and synthetic brushes have different cleaning needs, both can be safely cleansed with mild shampoo without sulfates. Begin by picking off all clumps of hair caught within your brush so they are easier to get rid of later, then tap your brush back over a dustbin to collect any smaller bits that might have fallen out.

After gathering your materials, create your cleaning solution. This should consist of equal parts water and mild shampoo like L’Oreal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Simply Clean Shampoo with Essential Oil which is safe for both scalp and hair. Vinegar makes an effective natural disinfectant and may help break down stubborn residues that are difficult to clear away using just soap and water alone.

Dead skin cells and gunky materials from both your scalp and products like gels, sprays, leave-in conditioners and dandruff shampoo are likely what clog up your brushes more than loose hairs, according to certified trichologist and founder of alodia Isfahan Chambers-Harris’ mbg review. When applied directly onto hair this material may transfer directly onto scalp irritations such as dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis.

Are you curious as to how big salons clean their brushes? Just watch: Most will dip their combs and brushes into a liquid known as Barbicide to dissolve dirt, grime, and grease from them before giving it a rinse with clean water. Once your cleansing solution has soaked into the bristles of the brush, brush over each bristle using a toothbrush before giving a final scrub with soap before rinsing thoroughly and placing your handle-down towel drying rack to finish drying off afterwards.

2. Soak

Step two of deep cleaning your hair brush involves submerging it in water for 20 minutes in order to loosen any gunk or residue that might be attached. Simply fill a bowl or sink with warm water and mix in some shampoo or washing liquid – this will create some sudsy action, helping remove oil build-up as well as product buildup that regular soap and water wouldn’t remove. Soaking will also remove oily residue that would normally build up.

When it comes to brush cleaning, Sunny Moon from Harbor Salon in Los Angeles advises against submerging wooden or cushioned ones in water as this could damage them. A more effective method would be dipping these types of brushes briefly (brisle-side down) briefly into water and using a toothbrush to scrub away stubborn product buildup on them, according to Moon.

Another effective method for cleaning brushes is mixing baking soda and white vinegar together, especially for plastic or natural bristle brushes. Simply wet your toothbrush before dipping it in the mixture; use this process to scrub away any gunk from your bristles before rinsing with water afterwards.

Hydrogen peroxide can also help you cleanse your brushes to get rid of bacteria that might be lurking within. Simply mix equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide (1:1) into a cup, dip your brushes in it, and let them sit for 10 minutes – this should eliminate odors while leaving your brushes smelling great!

How often you should deep clean your brushes depends entirely on the products and oiliness of your scalp. For instance, using heavy petroleum-based haircare products could necessitate more frequent deep cleaning sessions than those using more water-based ones.

One blogger known on Instagram as cleanfluencer advises deep cleaning her brushes and combs every two weeks, explaining in her video posts this week that gray lint in hairbrushes is actually composed of dead skin cells, sebum, product and residue build-up from products used in styling hair, leaving the potential for Malassezia overgrowth causing dandruff issues and other scalp concerns.

3. Rinse

Dirty brushes can become breeding grounds for shedded hair, gel or product residue that could do more damage to your strands than good, so it is imperative that they be regularly cleaned, ideally every two weeks. According to Oregon-based lifestyle content creator Nicole Jaques’ video explaining her cleaning process on Instagram: A dirty brush may contain dead skin cells, sebum (natural oil produced by your scalp), combined with hair product residue and more than will leave an undesirable look and feel in its wake.

To get your brushes as clean as possible, start by clearing away lint and shed hair from the bristles using either your fingers or comb to dig out all the gunk. Break up any clumps of hair that have accumulated. If tangled hair remains stubbornly stuck within, consider purchasing a tool designed specifically for cleaning brushes (starting at $16, Walmart).

Once your brush is free from excess hair, it’s time to wash it with mild shampoo. A mild solution should remove any product or residue build-up from most types of brushes; for a deeper clean, swish around in a bowl and rub down bristles using your finger tips for maximum efficiency. With natural bristle brushes such as wood or natural fiber bristle ones made by Helen Reavey of Act+Acre, water trapped within their handles could eventually cause it to decay over time, says certified trichologist Helen Reavey of Act+Acre.

Add baking soda to a warm soapy solution and soak your brush for 10-15 minutes, before rinsing off with water and repeating this step as necessary. For an intensive deep clean, vinegar works wonders as an effective disinfectant that works great on both plastic and wooden hairbrushes alike. Once complete, store in an upright position with its bristles facing down in order to prolong its usefulness!

4. Dry

Rinsing out your hair brush thoroughly to remove any residual soap or shampoo can help avoid leaving behind residue that promotes bacteria growth, according to Maza. Rinse it thoroughly, scrubping any stubborn build-up away. Once finished rinsing, squeeze out any water that got caught inside any cushioned sections (if applicable) of your brush that can’t be reached; any moisture left will eventually dissipate on its own. Once clean and fragrant again, place it onto a towel with its bristles facing down so it can dry completely before use again!

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to begin cleaning your hairbrush regularly. No matter if it’s made with natural or synthetic bristles and handles – or even wood!- your brush can collect debris that leads to an unpleasant odor over time, as well as build-up of shed hair which could eventually render it ineffective for styling hair. Aguirre suggests cleaning both brush and comb once every month but might need additional attention if you have long, thick locks or use lots of product.