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Once upon a time, I had about ten brushes that I used day after day without cleaning.
I haphazardly washed them every once in a while, and then I equally haphazardly tossed them back into the cup on my vanity. I have come a long way since then.
As my brush collection continued growing at an alarming rate, I started having, ahem, cleanliness issues. I made a habit of reusing brushes too many times between washings. Adding to that was the fact that I continuously stuck my used brushes back into the general stash, and so I would lose track of how many times over each brush was used or if a brush was used at all. It was just a big, confusing mess.
Then there was the issue of washing itself. With so many brushes, it felt like an all-day commitment (okay, not really.) It just took a long time, okay?
Not to mention, as the volume of brushes increased, the amount of soap and water also increased exponentially, and being the environmentally-conscious person that I am, I knew that I had to find a better way.
This is what I came up with to wash a bucketload of dirty brushes efficiently and (relatively) quickly.
This brush cleaning method is perfect for lazy (and busy) makeup loves who desperately need a system for keeping clean makeup brushes available at all times, without spending the entire weekend doing it.
Read on, filthy makeup brush haters!
Clean your sink really well
This is super important because we will be placing the brushes directly in the sink.
Sinks are naturally germy places, and so washing your brushes this way without first cleaning the sink will probably do more harm than good. You definitely want to avoid smearing all the bacteria that should be going down the drain onto your face instead.
I prefer these Wet Ones Fresh Scent Anti-Bacterial Wipes because they are convenient, inexpensive, and I like the smell. However, any antibacterial wipes or spray disinfectants work just fine.
Thoroughly wipe the basin, the drain area, (especially the drain area,) and the surrounding countertops.
You’ll want everything as clean as possible.
Wet Ones Fresh Scent Anti-Bacterial Wipes >> Purchase on Amazon
Dump all of your brushes into the sink
Splash water over all of the brushes to saturate the bristles. This way, you can just pick one up and start washing without having to wet it first. Trust me, it makes the entire process go much smoother later.
When I washed brushes in the past, I would pick up a brush, wet it, and pour a dime-sized glob of soap into my palm. Which would be completely consumed by said brush, might I add. I would then turn on the water again to rinse the brush, and then I set it aside. Imagine having to do this 68 times over.
Actually, don’t. It’s not fun.
The entire process proved to be a terrible waste of water, soap, and time.
Mix your solution
Instead of using concentrated soap for each brush, I like to mix a solution of Dawn with Olay dishwashing soap and water. This method uses much less soap and cleans the brush just as well. Not to mention it makes the rinsing process so much easier!
Mix approximately 1 tbs. of dishwashing liquid with 1/2 cup of water, and stir to combine well. This amount of solution is usually enough to wash all of my brushes, however, you can always multiply the recipe.
I find that the soapiness is more than adequate for most of my brushes. Super soiled brushes (such as lip brushes) may require a bit more soap, but that’s not a big deal.
Dawn Ultra Hand Renewal Dishwashing Liquid with Olay Beauty Pomegranate >> Purchase on Amazon
Make yourself comfortable with entertainment (& possibly a chair)
I still wash each brush individually at this point, but it doesn’t take nearly as much time as it did previously.
The brushes are already moistened, and so just a quick dip into the solution is enough to lather it up. It’s amazing how many brushes you can wash with so little soap. You’ll be surprised.
After dipping the brush briefly in the solution, swirl it around on your hand to work up a lather and scrub the makeup out of the brush. Although my technique looks a slightly odd here because one hand was busy taking the picture, I can assure you that there is nothing fancy about this step.
Note: This technique works fine for me, but if your hands are sensitive or if you have a huge haul of brushes to clean, you may want to invest in a brush cleaning mat. Or even better, make one yourself!
Squeeze out excess foam and place brush on the counter
Once you feel like the brush is satisfactorily clean, squeeze (don’t wring!) the excess liquid out the brush. For maximum efficiency, repeat this process until you’re finished washing all the brushes.
Go on a rinsing spree
Pile the clean makeup brushes on an absorbent towel as you finish rinsing. I’ve been using Kirkland Ultra Plush Microfiber Towels, but anything will work as long as it is large enough to spread the wet brushes out on in a single layer.
When I’m done, I just gather up the whole bundle like a hairstylist gathers up your hair in a towel after washing it, and transport my little friends somewhere breezy for some air.
Kirkland Ultra Plush Microfiber Towels >> Purchase on Amazon (Also available at most Costco locations.)
Give your squeaky clean makeup brushes some pampering
Give the brushes a little pampering. Style their hair, and make sure no bristles are sticking out in weird directions.
Just like our own hair, the brush hairs will end up stuck in whatever position they dry in, so if don’t put them into place now, they won’t be where you want them later. You don’t want any of your brushes having a bad hair day during your precise makeup application, now do you?
How often to clean makeup brushes
At the beginning of this post I mentioned losing track of how many times I used a brush. I actually don’t know how I lived like that. Now the idea of a dirty brush totally skeeves me out.
It may sound excessive, but these days I don’t reuse brushes as all. After I use a brush, it goes into a designated “to wash” box under my vanity.
Since I have my system down to a clean makeup brushes science and I no longer have to set aside an entire morning to accomplish the task, I can more freely dismiss brushes into the dirty pile.
Although I haven’t noticed a huge difference in the number of blemishes I have washing my brushes more often, but I know that it is better for my health in general. It only takes one stroke of bad luck to come away with a nasty eye infection thanks to an overused eye brush.
My thoughts on brush spot cleaner
Personally, I don’t use spot cleaner. I feel like it makes brushes dirtier over time because you lose your incentive to wash them for real since you “clean” them every day. But that’s just me.
Update 11/10/16: I have since purchased my first bottle of brush cleaner so I could experience it myself. I still don’t use it much, though I’m not as against it as I once was.
So tell me, how do you wash your brushes?
E.l.f. Daily Brush Cleaner >> Purchase at Elfcosmetics.com
That’s all for today!
Like this post all about awesomely clean makeup brushes? You’ll probably enjoy this post too >> The Ultimate Beginner Makeup Brushes How-To Guide
If you find this post interesting, informative, or just plain entertaining, tell me about it in the comments below! And don’t forget, sharing is caring. Share this post!
Till next time. ♥︎
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FTC- This post is not sponsored by any of the brands mentioned. I purchased all products myself. All opinions are my own. Some links may be affiliated.
What a great system you have here! I almost never wash this many brushes all at once but this looks like a good way to get it done super fast. I wash my brushes all the time so they don’t build up because I’d hate to have to do this!
I’ve actually switched over to that philosophy since I originally wrote this post! Now I try to keep on top of my brush cleaning so I don’t have to sit in the bathroom for 45 minutes with a mountain of dirty brushes, lol. Thanks for stopping by, Molly 🙂 xo
Kristy I says
This is what I use too! I like to combine dish soap with a bit of olive oil to condition the brush hairs. I've tried other things like baby shampoo and makeup remover, but the dish soap really does get all the debris and leftover makeup off!
I’m glad you enjoyed! I used to use olive oil too, but I found that there wasn’t much of a difference from just using soap alone. Perhaps I should try again. Thanks for reading! 🙂 xo