Courtney Omell | 

How to Clean a Hairbrush: Your Step-by-Step Guide

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Spring has nearly sprung, which means it’s time to tackle all those deep-cleaning to-dos you’ve been avoiding all winter. While we love a good car cleaning or window wash, sometimes we overlook the simple, everyday objects that get the most use. Think about things like your AirPods, phone case, or yes, your hairbrush.

When you use a hairbrush, it accumulates dirt, oil, product residue, and dead skin cells. These can build up and cause scalp irritation, dandruff, and even hair loss. If you let your brush go too long between cleanings, it will need to be replaced. Nobody wants to go out and buy a new brush every month (especially with the rising cost of everything right now).

A clean hairbrush can help your styling products work more effectively, resulting in better hair health and appearance. Don’t let all those dollars you spend on the perfect hair products go to waste. Here’s how to clean a hairbrush the right way to keep your strands healthy and your brush damage-free.

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You should clean your hairbrush weekly.

person brushing their hair with a hairbrush

Remember what we said about spring cleaning and giving your brush some TLC? You actually need to do this more than once a year. It’s important to regularly clean your hairbrush to maintain good hair hygiene and prevent the buildup of dirt, oils, dead skin, and product residue. Ideally, you should clean your hairbrush at least once a week, or more frequently if you have particularly oily or greasy hair, or if you use a lot of styling products. We realize this might not be feasible if you have a busy schedule, but at least aim for twice per month.

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Here’s how to clean a hairbrush in five simple steps.

person removing hair from a hairbrush to clean it

The process of cleaning a hairbrush can vary depending on the type of brush you’re dealing with. Synthetic or plastic-bristled hairbrushes with handles are generally easier to clean, requiring less effort and attention. However, natural-bristle brushes or those with wooden handles need more careful and gentle cleaning. These can be damaged if exposed to excess moisture or harsh cleaning agents. It’s important to take into account the material and construction of the brush when determining the best cleaning method to use. We’ll walk you through how to clean both types of brushes.

Steps for cleaning a synthetic brush with a synthetic handle:

  1. Remove all the hair using your fingers, tweezers, or a sharp handle of a comb.
  2. Fill your sink with warm water and a squirt of your favorite shampoo. Clarifying shampoo works well for this! Swirl the brush around until it’s nice and soapy. Let the brush soak for a few minutes in the sudsy water.
  3. Use a toothbrush to gently buff away any excess hair, style product buildup, or dirt.
  4. Rinse the brush thoroughly. Place it bristles down on a towel to dry.
  5. Once dry, fill a large cup or bowl with 1/2 cup isopropyl alcohol and water. Dip the brush in to sanitize and then place it, again, bristles down on a towel to dry completely.

Tip: If the shampoo isn’t removing the product residue entirely, you can add about 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the toothbrush for a gentle abrasive cleaner.

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Steps for cleaning a hairbrush with natural bristles:

  1. Remove all the hair using your fingers, tweezers, or a sharp handle of a comb.
  2. Use a shallow baking dish filled with warm water and a small squirt of shampoo to gently dip the bristles of the brush. Use the edge of the baking dish or another small container to prop the brush so only the bristles are submerged. Let the brush soak for a few minutes to loosen the dirt and buildup.
  3. Use your hands to clear any excess debris or product from the brush.
  4. Rinse using warm water. Try to do this quickly, and don’t let the base of the brush soak in water.
  5. Place the brush bristle side down on a towel and let it dry completely.


How to clean a hairbrush with a wooden handle.

a toothbrush cleaning the bristles of a wooden hairbrush

Unlike their plastic counterparts, wooden hairbrushes should not be soaked in water, as this can cause the wood to deteriorate and the bristles to loosen. For that reason, you’ll need to be more careful when cleaning a wood-handled hairbrush.

To remove excessive hair product buildup, remove as much hair as you can with tweezers or a comb. Then you can dip a toothbrush in soapy water and gently scrub the paddle of the brush, avoiding the wood areas. After scrubbing, wipe the handle with a clean towel and place it on a towel with the bristles facing downwards to air-dry.

Tip: If your wooden hairbrush does get wet, avoid using a hair dryer to dry it. The intense heat can damage the wood. Instead, let the brush air-dry, or use the cool air setting if absolutely necessary.


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