Your step-by-step makeup brush and sponge cleaning guide

Cleaning beauty brushes and sponges regularly can help keep harmful bacteria away from your skin and give your makeup a flawless finish.

How often do you clean your makeup brushes and sponges? Probably not often enough, experts say.

Makeup artist Stella Tu says washing brushes regularly helps prevent bacteria and product build-up, and allows them to perform properly.

“When you are brushing your face with a tool that is covered with old products, you are brushing germs around the skin, along with old products stuck to your tools that have likely changed or gone off due to air exposure,” Stella says.

“This can cause inflammation, breakouts and problematic skin.”

Stella says makeup also tends to last longer and sit better when applied with clean brushes.

Makeup artist Stefania De Vecchi says she deep-cleans foundation and concealer brushes fortnightly, and powder brushes monthly.

Step-by-step guide: How to clean your makeup tools


You can use a makeup cleanser, but a gentle shampoo is an effective and affordable alternative.

  1. Dampen the brush bristles in lukewarm water, avoiding the base of the brush as this can cause it to rot or weaken the glue that secures the bristles.
  2. Using a clean plate or bowl, place a dollop of cleanser and gently massage the tips of the brushes to lift makeup residue before thoroughly rinsing.
  3. Repeat until the brushes appear clean and the water runs clear.
  4. Squeeze the excess moisture with a clean towel before reforming the brush head to its original shape.
  5. Dry the brushes by hanging them over the edge of a counter.


Again you’ll need a bowl, lukewarm water and a soap or cleanser.

  1. Fill the bowl with soap and lukewarm water to create a soapy solution and submerge the dirty sponge into the water.
  2. Allow the solution to draw out the makeup, dirt and bacteria from the sponge and repeat the process until the residue is clear.

Sanitising makeup brushes and sponges

The easiest way to prevent bacteria from spreading on your makeup brushes and sponges is to regularly clean them with a sanitising spray solution that removes germs.

“A little hack I’ve found useful to clean brushes between clients is to dampen some paper towel with micellar water and another with an isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol),” Stefania says.

“I rub the bristles in a circular motion in the micellar water to draw out makeup residue then into the alcohol to disinfect.

“Some people say the alcohol degrades the bristles, but I’ve been doing this for years with no damage to my brushes.”

Written by Charlotte Brundrett.