How to Clean a Hair Brush in 2020

Lol, here’s something I’m not super proud of: You know that gross, linty residue that builds up in your hair brushes over time? Yeah, I used to think that was a sign that my brush was ready for the trash. In reality, tho, buildup just means it’s time to give your hair brush a good ol’ clean (something I had never done before—like, not even once). No, I don’t mean just pulling the leftover hair from the bristles—which, yes, I do actually do each time, TYVM—I mean fully shampooing, soaking, and scrubbing your brushes until they’re basically like new again.

I mean, think about it: You clean your makeup brushes and sponges every week or two to prevent bacteria and grime (or you should…), so why wouldn’t you do the same with your hair brushes? And when you don’t clean your hair brush and you use it anyway, you’re actually distributing loads of product buildup and oil back into your hair. Cute, right? This all to say: For the love of god, don’t be like me—you need to wash your brushes every 2-4 weeks if you, IDK, even remotely care about the health of your hair and scalp.

And to help you get there, I broke down the three best tutorials on YouTube for easy, effective cleaning. Keep reading for everything you’ll need.

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How to clean hair brushes with shampoo

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One of the most tried-and-true methods for cleaning a hair brush involves shampoo, a toothbrush, and a comb. One thing to keep in mind: Wooden hair brushes and natural bristles can’t be submerged in water like plastic ones can, so make sure you separate your brushes before you get started. Here’s what YouTuber-slash-hairstylist Liz Bumgarner does in the video above—plus, exactly what you’ll need:

What you’ll need:

    What you’ll do:

    1. Run a clean wide-tooth comb through your brushes to pick up any excess hair or product buildup. Don’t worry about being too perfect here—just remove as much hair as you can before you move on to step two.
    2. Next comes the washing. Remember: Your plastic and aluminum brushes will go through a slightly different process than your wooden ones, so separate your brushes before you do the following:

      For plastic hair brushes: Throw your brushes into a dishpan, drop in a decent amount of mild shampoo, and fill up the bin with warm—not hot—water until your brushes are completely submerged. Let them soak for 10 minutes, then grab a toothbrush and gently clean any leftover hair and buildup from the bristles.

      For wooden hair brushes: Fill up your basin with warm water and shampoo, and dunk each brush one at a time into the soapy water, cleaning the bristles with your toothbrush. The key here? Absolutely no soaking—just clean your brush, remove it from the water, and set it aside.

    3. Rinse each brush with cool, running water, making sure to get rid of any leftover shampoo. Pro tip: Gently squeeze the water out of your paddle brushes to prevent any buildup from forming underneath the base.
    4. Lay out your brushes on a clean towel and let them dry for a sold 12 to 24 hours (the longer you wait, the more likely they’ll be totally dry).

      1. How to clean hair brushes with apple cider vinegar

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        Here’s where your ingredients preference really comes into play. The technique is pretty similar in this hair-brush cleaning tutorial from Kimberly Cherrell, but the addition of apple cider vinegar (ACV) makes it especially great for destroying oil and product buildup. Peep the video above and then keep reading for the full instructions.

        What you’ll need:

          What you’ll do:

          1. Using the skinny end of your rat-tail comb, gently move through the bristles to pick up hair, buildup, and lint on your plastic brushes. For wooden brushes and natural bristles, gently use the comb side to pull hair from the root of the bristles.
          2. Next, quickly spray your brushes with ACV (you can use a plastic spray bottle for easy application) and drop ’em into a bowl or sink of warm water with the bristles facing up. And since your wooden brushes shouldn’t be submerged, quickly set them aside after you spray.
          3. It’s officially shampoo time. Here’s what you’ll do for each type of brush:
            1. For plastic brushes: Squeeze a generous amount of shampoo on top of your brushes in the water and gently massage the bristles until they’re nice and soapy. Then, flip each brush down so they can soak in the water and release any leftover hair or dirt. You’ll want to leave your brushes submerged like this overnight—when you grab them in the morning, use a toothbrush to scrub out any remaining product.
            2. For wooden brushes: Distribute a dollop of shampoo on top of the bristles with a clean toothbrush, gently dipping the bristles in warm water as you need it. Then go in with a soapy sponge or cloth and clean up the handle and paddle. Set aside for rinsing.
          4. Rinse your brushes until they’re completely clean. Leftover shampoo is a recipe for greasy hair, so make sure the water runs clear before you move on to the final step.
          5. You know the drill: Lay out your freshly rinsed brushes on a clean towel and let them dry. Don’t freak out if they need more than 12 hours—some bristles take longer to dry than others.

            1. How to clean hair brushes with vinegar and baking soda

              This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

              If you feel like your hair brushes need some extra disinfecting, you’ll love this tutorial from April Sunny. The key difference here? Shampoo is swapped for baking soda and vinegar to help clean and sanitize your brushes. Here’s what you gotta know before you get started:

              What you’ll need:

                What you’ll do:

                1. Start by laying out your brushes on a clean paper towel and, with your rat-tail comb, gently remove as much hair and lint as possible. Again, the skinny side is great for plastic brushes, while the comb side is best for natural bristles. Set aside while you move on to step two.
                2. Fill up your container with warm water and mix in two tablespoons of baking soda and 1/4 cup white vinegar. Swirl your plastic combs and brushes into the mixture and plop them into the container to soak. Wooden brushes can soak bristle-side down, as long as you rest the wooden handle on the ledge of the container. Let your tools sit like this for 15 to 30 minutes.
                3. After you remove your brushes from the solution, grab your comb and repeat that same method from step one to remove any remaining hair and buildup. Then clean up any dirt or grime on the sides of your brushes—and in between the bristles—with a clean paper towel.
                4. April Sunny likes to follow by plopping her brushes and combs back into a new, clean basin of warm water and letting them sit for five minutes, but you can also finish off by rinsing each brush and comb under the sink.
                5. Place your clean brushes on a fresh towel and let those bbs dry overnight.
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