Beauty DIY: Homemade Makeup Brush Cleaner

I never clean my makeup brushes. Not once in my life have I ever done it. Well, before today I hadn’t. The brushes I use now I’ve had for at least a year – and I wear makeup every day, so I can only imagine what terrible things these bacteria-filled brushes are doing to my precious skin!

I recently came across this recipe for a homemade makeup brush cleaner and I knew I had to try it. This mixture will clean your brushes like no other and it’ll leave them feeling softer than ever. Seriously. I am completely amazed by how well this stuff works. This cleaner is so incredibly easy to make and it’s made from things that most of us already have lying around the house!

What you need:

Beauty DIY: Homemade Makeup Brush Cleaner

1 cup distilled water
¼ cup rubbing alcohol
½ tablespoon castile soap (I love Dr. Bronner’s, which you can get at most drugstores and health food stores)
½ tablespoon hair shampoo (I used Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo)
1 tablespoon leave-in conditioner spray (I used an organic conditioner from Whole Foods)
Small spray bottle

What you do:

Just mix all ingredients together and pour into your spray bottle!

Beauty DIY: Homemade Makeup Brush Cleaner

To clean, spray the bristles of your makeup brush and then brush onto a clean, dry paper towel to remove all residue. If your brushes are extra dirty (like mine), let them soak in the mixture for a half hour or more before brushing onto a towel. You will be stunned by how well this works!

Clean makeup brushes are a huge step towards achieving healthy skin, so try to adding quick cleaning into your weekly schedule! I know I’ll be doing so.

Here are some more beauty ideas we love!

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10 years ago

just FYI, it’s reeeeeeeeeally not good to leave your makeup brushes standing bristles-down like that! even for a half hour it can warp the bristles and ruin your good brushes! also, it’s not good to let them soak at all, as the handle (especially where it holds the bristles) can become waterlogged and breed bacteria. it’s much better to use a thicker cleaner and brush/wipe the wet brush across a paper towel until it runs clean.

10 years ago

Much more simple and works wonders, baby shampoo. Swirl the brush around in baby shampoo and water on a clean plate then rinse, repeat until is clean.

10 years ago

This is a great solution for people who hate deep cleaning. I have about 30 brushes I deep clean weeky, its a huge task. Spot cleaning your brushes is a great start, but every so often the brushes will need to be deep cleaned to get makeup that has seeped way down in the bristles out. If that is your brushes pictured above soaking in the mason jars, that is not good for them! If you must soak your brushes, don’t let the water get past the ferrule (metal). This can degrade the glue that holds everything together and cause mold/bacteria.

10 years ago

I also use Johnson’s baby shampoo. So gentle and cleans thoroughly.

10 years ago

Taylor your so wrong I do make up for stars and what not and its perfectly fine I’m a professional so I’d suggest you listen to this nice lady

10 years ago

I, personally, don’t clean my brushes as often as I should. Usually, I use baby shampoo. thank you for your help

10 years ago

Okay first of all, why would anyone want brush cleaning advice from someone who admits to using brushes for a year and never cleaning them? (sorry Brigette, but that’s just gross on so many levels) And, Breanne…..give it up. Taylor is 100% correct. Never “soak” brushes. Furthermore, looking at your grammar I can’t believe you’re any kind of professional, much less a pro makeup artist. Frankly, all the celeb and TV/Film makeup artists I know are very intelligent. You sound like a teenager, actually (and judging from your defensive attitude you probably know the woman who wrote this article). I actually am a professional makeup artist in NYC and know dozens of makeup artists who would agree with Taylor. My boss is a celebrity makeup artist who has worked on any top A-List celeb you can name, (Taylor Swift, Rhianna, Britney Spears, Naomi Campbell, to name a few) and I am friends with about a dozen celebrity makeup artists who do makeup on A-Listers as well. NONE of them would agree with this recipe or method of cleaning brushes.

If you want to get technical about it, too, you don’t really want to “condition” brushes with conditioner either, or they’ll be so smooth they won’t pick up shadow well at all, and will cause a lot of fallout. People always blame fallout on the shadow, but the brush has a lot to do with it. You actually want a shampoo that leaves the hairs with a bit of texture….like the cheapest quality shampoo that might have a high ph. (I actually use dog shampoo for my shader brushes, since I have it anyway, it has a higher PH….) . The higher PH lifts the cuticle which gives a rougher texture to the hairs. My shader brushes load up with shadow simply by setting the brush on the shadow pan it works so well, AND the easier the hairs pick up product, the less you have to dig around in the pan and you don’t wind up making a mess of your shadows, waste a ton of product, or have fallout all over.

I DO however use a conditioning shampoo on any brushes that I use with liquids or creams so that they are less dry with a smooth cuticle, and won’t suck up all the moisture out of the product or stay in the brush instead of smoothing onto the skin.

Hope this helps.

9 years ago

Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual
effort to generate a superb article… but what can I say…
I put things off a whole lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

9 years ago

great post !! actually i wash my brush with baby oil or dove shampoo ……this is awesome

8 years ago

I just started getting into the makeup stuff so I haven’t really used brushes up until this week. I’m gonna try it soon this week for sure! :D

8 years ago

Sorry about the few negative comments above! :/ I am definitely going to give this a try at least once :)

5 years ago

Be nice! You can offer advice without being self-righteous and rude.

5 years ago

Great article… thank you… and to all those who have nothing better to do with their day then to post negative comments on someone’s obviously helpful blog let me just say… if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. If you can’t live by that then maybe it’s time to stop trolling the internet, emerge from your technologically induced coma and live in the real world. And jrbeauty76 if you disagree with everything in this blog then why could you not just hit the [X] and forget it ever existed? Why feel the need to belittle the author and other commenters with rude comments? Not to mention acting like a know it all and like you’re better then others. It’s not very classy. I would assume if you have such a busy life then there just wouldn’t be any time for trolling the interwebz… ah well… again thank you to the author… I will definitely be giving this a shot as a mom of 4 young kids anything that can reduce my time spent at my vanity will most likely save my walls from sharpies and my carpet from nail polish or any other items my lovely little demon spawn can get their claws on :P

4 years ago

So glad @ JR beauty posted
I debated the effectiveness of the recipe too bc alochol drys out the brushes and using conditioner seems strange. I usually use oil & baby shampoo but the ph comments were so useful and valid points on cuticle of natural brush hairs. I’ve been a makeup artist for over a decade.
It’s a terrible idea to soak brushes.
That’s not a critique of the post writer it’s just the truth. Kind of like, it’s a bad idea to brush your teeth with steel wool lol

4 years ago
Reply to  Lmakeup

I made a batch of this and used it until it was gone. It smelled good but it didn’t clean my brushes. The makeup that came off my brushes on my weekend cleaning of my brushes was way too much. Thanks for offering up an alternative for me to try.

Tracy J Goldston
4 years ago

I thought this sounded like it was worth a try. I usually buy a makeup brush spray cleaner and didn’t want to buy another $22. Bottle.
So i ordered the castile soap and a natural spray conditioner to use with the other ingredients i already had.
I mixed up the ingredients and cleaned my brushes. I clean them daily as a rule but deep clean every few months.
I was surprised at how much makeup came off my brushes. They are soft and clean. I personally don’t let water get past the metal but i angle them ina small pool of cleaner.
Thank you for the recipe and taking the time to give me an option to try this.

1 year ago

Thank you so much @Brigette for sharing such incredible tips.