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DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner


Last Updated on February 17, 2022

DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner is an inexpensive way to extend the life of your makeup brushes. With only 2 ingredients, this is the best makeup brush cleaner ever!

makeup brush cleaner

Cleaning your makeup brushes should be done on a regular basis to remove bacteria and make them last longer. In a zero waste lifestyle it’s important to repair and clean makeup brushes instead of tossing them out. Knowing how to clean makeup brushes is as simple as creating an all natural solution, swirling, rinsing, and drying. Keep reading to learn how often you should clean your makeup brushes too!  

why repairing is important to zero waste

My favorite honorary “R”s is repair! It may have not made it into the top 5 “Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot,” but it’s got to be soooo close. 

Repairing is a huge part of the zero waste lifestyle. It honestly shocks me that my instincts used to be, “If it’s broken, toss it and buy another one!” 

It’s so ingrained in our disposable culture. A lot of manufacturers actually participate in creating this disposable culture. It’s called planned obsolescence. 

ingredients for makeup brush cleaner

down with planned obsolescence

The idea of planned obsolescence isn’t new, in fact, it dates back to the 1920s when the market was being flooded with vehicles. Ford and GM were both trying to find ways to increase sales. 

They came up with the idea to create new models each year to encourage the consumer to “upgrade.” The goal was to make older models feel outdated and undesirable. 

It didn’t become a common phrase until Bernard London wrote the pamphlet “Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence.” It proposed legal obsolescence on items to stimulate the economy.

The idea really took off in the 1950s. Brooks Stevens used it in his speech to an advertising company. “[planned obsolescence is] Instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary.”

Apple has been accused of this on multiple occasions from making custom screws only they have the screwdrivers to unlock and intentionally slowing down your phone with the most recent iOS update riiiiiiiiiiiiiight before a new phone is released. A little too convenient, eh? 

makeup brushes on a towel

repairing makeup brushes

The moral of my story is, repairing is huge. A lot of companies don’t want you to repair their items. They want you to buy new ones. 

While not everything is easy to repair, mend, or fix, a lot of things are. Sometimes it means making better purchases. Other times it means learning a new skill! 

I remember when I first heard that you should be cleaning your makeup brushes. 

I took a hard look at the brush I used on a daily basis and saw quite a bit of built up product. Old me would have tossed that brush, thinking it was just time for a new one. 

But, I learned it just needed a good cleaning! Now it’s as good as new. I clean my brushes often to keep them in tip top shape, and hopefully they’ll serve me for many years to come. 

Creating your own DIY makeup brush cleaner is so easy. Plus, it’s totally zero waste. 

makeup brushes and cleaner

diy makeup brush cleaner ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons of Soap like Dr. Bronners
  • 1 Tablespoon of a Sweet Almond Oil 

Time needed: 15 minutes

how to clean makeup brushes

  1. combine the ingredients

    Pour the almond oil and soap onto a plate. The oil helps condition the bristles keeping them nice and soft.

  2. Swirl

    Swirl your brush around in the mixture until it’s clean. Use your hand to agitate and remove any of the residues. 

  3. Rinse

    Rinse the brush off in COLD water. I rinse my brush off into a cup of water because you want to keep the brush facing down. You want to prevent the bristles from standing up so water doesn’t drip down the shaft. 

  4. Dry

    Hang the brushes to dry bristles down 24-48 Hours

NOTE: If you have really product heavy brush, you may need to repeat this and add a little extra soap. 

mixing brush cleaner ingredients together

best makeup brush cleaner tips

  • Use gentle eco friendly soap. Using any regular soap will cause the DIY makeup brush cleaner to be too harsh. This will dry the bristles and isn’t good for your skin.
  • Swap the oil. You can use another oil like olive oil. Sweet almond is what I had on hand. I bought it in bulk from Rainbow Grocery. 
  • Don’t skip the oil. Using only soap could be a little harsh and dry them out over time.
cleaning makeup brushes with diy makeup cleaner

how do you clean makeup brushes with real hair?

If you have makeup brushes with real hair, you will be happy to know that this cleaner will work beautifully! It’s truly the best makeup brush cleaner and is gentle enough that it won’t dry the hair bristles out. You could also clean them with a little bit of shampoo as well.

jar with makeup brush cleanser

how often should you clean makeup brushes?

For best results, clean your makeup brushes every 1-2 weeks. It prevents lots of building up from developing, and keeps them fresh, clean, and gets rid of bacteria.

If you have really product heavy brush, you may need to repeat this and add a little extra soap. 

hanging makeup brushes to dry

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  1. Really love your blog, which I quite recently started following. Lots of inspiration and things which make you really think, such as your thoughts here on how businesses want us to waste. Crazy!

    On this particular subject though: For real hair brushes – schampoo! For synthetic brushes – makeup remover! Both of which things everybody probably has in one shape or another (well…at least if they have makeup brushes they probably have remover!!)

    Buy fewer products and use them for more purposes, that’s one of my ways of wasting less.

  2. Kathryn – I just made this cleaner and it worked beautifully! Thanks for the recipe and for all the good you’re doing in the world.

  3. I love all of your tips!! What does the almond oil do for the brushes? I’ve always just used castille soap by itself and it works great! Does the almond oil preserve the bristles better?

  4. I have been cleaning my own brushes for years:) my lip stick brush and blush brush I have now had for 26 years. I swish them around in hot water and homemade soap then let dry. Super simple! All my daughters do the same. Awesome blog and love the history of the disposable product and the point of Apple making the phones slow down! Grrrr!

  5. I also use vinegar to disinfect if it’s been a long time since I’ve washed my brushes, or I’m worried about colds and flu. The soap is probably enough, but the vinegar is more for my piece of mind 🙂

  6. You could also try using fabric softener. It has a few cleansing properties but its perfect for maintaining the condition of the bristles. Saw this trick to take care of matted doll hair and thought it would be great for makeup bristles (I only use synthetic brushes because I’m vegan). Try it out! Makes them smell great too!
    As for the almond oil, as someone asked, oil breaks down makeup (you could literally use olive oil, or coconut oil, to remove your makeup, so good for your skin and supereffective even for waterproof makeup.)

  7. Honestly my favorite thing about this is how you hung them to dry. Nice! I saw a lot of people commenting about using commercial products to do the same but I don’t think it helps the cause. I think making those must-have products obsolete not invaluable might be more successful long term. One step at a time though!

  8. just a quick note – if you’re using you’re brushes every day, you should be washing them at least once a month, if not every week or two. especially eye brushes!