How To Clean A Hairbrush- Step By Step Guide 

By  Emily Konatella

LAST UPDATED - January 31, 2024

Amid the fast-paced nature of our daily routines, we often overlook the little things that deserve our attention. One such overlooked item is our trusty hairbrush. Day after day, your hairbrush dutifully untangles knots, styles our locks, and helps us put our best foot forward. But when was the last time you showed your hairbrush some love?

While not the most glamorous chore, cleaning your hairbrush is a crucial aspect of upkeeping both your hair's health and overall hygiene. Just like any other grooming tool, hair brushes can accumulate dust, oils, dead skin cells, and remnants of styling products over time. Neglecting to clean them compromises your brush's effectiveness and can lead to less-than-desirable hair outcomes.

In this blog post, we will guide you through the reasons, timing, and techniques for cleaning your hairbrush. Whether you're a beauty enthusiast or someone simply looking to improve their hair care routine, read on to discover the secrets to keeping your hairbrush in top-notch condition and your tresses looking their best.

Why You Need To Clean Your Hairbrush

Your hairbrush plays a significant role in maintaining the health and appearance of your hair, and neglecting its cleanliness can have several adverse effects. Here are some of the reasons why cleaning your hairbrush should be a priority in your hair care routine.

Prevents Buildup of Dirt and Oils

Over time, your hairbrush accumulates a combination of hair, dust, oils, and hair product residue. This buildup can clog the bristles, making your brush less effective at detangling and styling your hair. The accumulation of dirt and oils can also transfer back onto your hair, leaving it looking greasier and less clean.

Maintains Hair and Scalp Health

A hairbrush that's kept clean plays a role in enhancing the overall health of your hair and scalp. You're not just smoothing and styling your hair when you brush it! Additionally, you're evenly distributing the natural oils produced by your scalp. A dirty brush can distribute these oils unevenly, potentially leading to an oily scalp and dry ends.

Prevents Hair Damage

Dirty or clogged bristles can cause hair breakage and damage. Using a clean brush glides smoothly through your hair, reducing the risk of tugging and pulling, which can lead to hair breakage.

Extends the Life of Your Brush

Regularly cleaning your hairbrush can extend its lifespan. Over time, the buildup of hair and residue weakens the brush's bristles and structure, making it less effective. Proper care of your brush helps maintain its functionality.

Promotes Good Scalp Hygiene

A dirty hairbrush can become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, which can then be transferred to your scalp when you brush your hair. This can lead to scalp issues, including itchiness and dandruff. Cleaning your brush helps maintain a good scalp condition and clean hair!

Enhances Hair Appearance

Clean brushes lead to clean hair. When you brush your hair with a clean brush, it can appear shinier and smoother. Additionally, a clean brush won't transfer dirt or odors to your freshly washed hair and will keep your hair shiny and healthy.

Improves Styling Results

If you use your brush for styling, a clean brush will yield better results. It allows you to have better control over your hair and achieve the desired look without interference from residue or tangles.

Prevents Odors

Oils, sweat, and hair product residue trapped in your hairbrush can create an unpleasant odor over time. Cleaning your brush regularly eliminates these odors, leaving your hair tools smelling fresh.

Reduces Allergen Buildup

Dust, allergens, dead skin cells and microscopic particles can accumulate on your hairbrush, potentially causing allergies or respiratory issues if you have sensitivities. Regular cleaning helps mitigate this risk.

What You Need To Consider Before Cleaning Your Hair Brush

Type of Brush Bristles

Natural Bristles: Natural bristle brushes, like horsehair or boar bristles, are delicate and sensitive to lingering moisture. They should not be soaked for an extended period, as it can damage the bristles or the wooden base. Instead, clean them with minimal water exposure and avoid over-soaking.

Synthetic Bristles: Synthetic brushes are more resilient and can tolerate warm water better than natural ones. Synthetic materials can typically be soaked for longer periods without issues.

Mixed Bristles: Some brushes have a combination of natural and synthetic bristles. In such cases, consider the care needs of the natural bristles when cleaning.

Type of Handle Material

Wooden Handles: If your brush has a wooden handle, be cautious about prolonged exposure to water, which can lead to swelling or warping. Dip wooden brushes in warm water briefly, if necessary, and dry them thoroughly afterward.

Plastic or Rubber Handles: Brushes with plastic or rubber handles are generally more water-resistant and can withstand cleaning with hot water and mild soap. However, avoid using harsh chemicals that may degrade the handle material.

Metal Handles: Brushes with metal handles may rust or corrode if exposed to prolonged moisture. Use water sparingly and ensure the handle is thoroughly dried after cleaning.

Brush Padding

Some brushes have cushioned pads under the bristles. Be cautious with soaking, as excessive moisture can damage the cushioning. If there are manufacturer-provided instructions for cleaning, it's advisable to follow them.

How To Clean A Hairbrush

Step 1: Remove Hair and Debris

Begin cleaning by removing all the old hair and debris from your hairbrush. Removing the hair is essential, as it clears the way for a more effective and thorough cleaning. Use your fingers, a wide-toothed comb, or a pointy-ended comb to gently lift and pull out all the hair strands that are tangled in the brush bristles. Work from the base of the bristles towards the tips, ensuring you remove as much hair and debris as possible.

Step 2: Prepare a Soapy Solution

Next, prepare a soapy solution in a large bowl or sink. You will need warm water, a few drops of mild soap, a gentle shampoo, or dish soap. The warm water helps to soften and loosen the oils and residues trapped in the brush bristles, while the soap breaks down any product buildup. Mix the water and soap until you have a sudsy solution ready for soaking.

Step 3: Soak the Brush

Place the hairbrush, with the bristles facing down, into the soapy water. Ensure that only the bristles are fully submerged! Let the brush soak for about 5 to 15 minutes. The length of the soaking period depends on your type of bristles. This soaking time allows the warm, soapy water to work its magic, softening and loosening the dirt and grime from the brush.

Synthetic bristles can be soaked for longer than natural alternatives. It's best to soak them for about 10-15 minutes. Natural bristles, on the other hand, are more delicate and sensitive. It's best to soak them for about 5 minutes to avoid damaging the bristles.

Step 4: Clean the Bristles

After the soaking period, take an old, clean toothbrush or a fine-toothed comb to scrub the bristles and the base of the hairbrush gently. Use a back-and-forth motion to dislodge any remaining debris and to clean the brush thoroughly. Pay special attention to any residue or buildup between the bristles. Use a cotton swab to remove any product residue from any grooves.

Step 5: Rinse Thoroughly

Once you've cleaned the bristles, rinse the hairbrush thoroughly under warm running water. Ensure you eliminate all remnants of soap and any loosened debris. Employ your fingers to assist in dislodging any tenacious residue that might be adhering to the bristles.

Step 6: Dry the Brush

After rinsing, give the hairbrush a good shake to remove excess water. Then, take a clean towel or use paper towels to gently pat it dry. Make sure you eliminate as much moisture as possible to prevent the growth of mold or mildew.

Step 7: Allow The Brush Air Dry

Finally, allow the hairbrush to air dry completely before using it again - especially cushioned and paddle brushes! You can place it on a clean towel or a drying rack with the bristle-side down for proper ventilation. Steer clear of using a hairdryer or any direct source of heat to hasten the drying process. Excessive heat can cause harm to the bristles and the brush handle, especially when dealing with plastic brushes.

How Often To Clean Your Hairbrush

The frequency at which you should clean hairbrushes varies based on several factors. These factors include your usage frequency, the type of hairbrush you have, your hair type, and whether you use styling products. For instance, if you primarily use your brushes on freshly washed, clean hair, you won't need to clean it as often as someone who uses it on hair that accumulates dirt and oil between shampoos. Additionally, if you're using a rat tail comb, you can simply rinse off any residual hair product under running water after each use for easy maintenance. Here are some general guidelines to help you determine how often to clean your hairbrush:

Regular Cleaning (Once a Week to Once a Month)

Do you use your brush daily? If your hair tends to collect oils or you frequently use styling products like gels and sprays, it's advisable to clean your hairbrush at least once a week. Regularly keeping your hairbrush clean helps prevent the buildup of oils, residues, and debris on the brush, maintaining its effectiveness and your hygiene.

Moderate Cleaning (Every Two Weeks to Once a Month)

If you use your brushes regularly but not on a daily basis, cleaning it every two weeks to once a month is generally sufficient. Cleaning your hairbrush regularly at this frequency helps prevent excessive buildup while accommodating a slightly lower usage rate.

Occasional Cleaning (Every Two to Three Months)

If you use your hairbrush infrequently or have hair that doesn't accumulate oils and residues quickly, you can extend the cleaning interval to every two to three months. However, even with less frequent use, occasional cleaning remains important to keep your hairbrush in good condition.

About the author

Emily is a fashion consultant, designer and creative director with more than 15 years experience creating, designing and developing clothing & jewelry. From managing pageant shows to turning concepts into actual designs, she has experience with almost all fabric types and jewelry designs and is in touch with the latest fashion trends.

Creative Design

Get a Weekly Dose Of Tomorrow's Trends & Best Products!

We don't share your information with anyone!