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How To Clean Hair Brushes: A Step-by-Step Guide

Can’t remember when was the last time you washed your hair brush? We’ve all been there. But note that dirty brushes can seriously affect your hair and scalp health. So if you haven’t done it before I can recommend taking up regular hair brush cleaning now. Read more to learn just how.

As someone who has been in the hair game for a while, I know the importance of hair brush cleaning. Not only does hair brush cleaning make for a better hair-styling experience, but it also extends the life of your brushes. Unfortunately, I can't count the times I've seen friends or clients use dirty brushes, not realizing the damage it can cause to their hair and the brush itself. That's why today, I want to share my tips and tricks on how to wash hair brushes. So, whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting, read on to learn how to clean your hair brushes and ensure they're in tip-top shape!


Why Should You Clean Your Hair Brush?

Why is hair brush cleaning so important? First, it is essential to maintain healthy hair and scalp. Dirty brushes can harbor bacteria, fungi, and other harmful microbes that can cause skin infections and worsen scalp issues. (If you’re suffering from a sensitive scalp or greasy hair, you may want to check on the cleanliness of your hair brushes.)

Why Should You Clean Your Hair Brush?

Hair brush cleaning is also necessary because a dirty brush can make hair styling more difficult. Over time, hair brushes can accumulate dirt, oils, and styling products, leading to buildup that can affect the performance of your hair brush. Dirty brushes can also tangle and knot your hair. In addition, that buildup can leave bristles stiff and ineffective, making it difficult to detangle your hair or distribute hair products evenly.

For all these reasons, regularly cleaning your hair brush is essential. Doing so can keep your brushes in good condition, prevent the buildup of dirt and oils, and maintain healthy hair and scalp. To learn more about how to wash your hair brush, keep reading.

How Often Do You Need To Wash Hair Brushes?

The frequency of cleaning your hair brushes depends on several factors, including the type of brush, how often you use it, and the number of styling products you use. However, as a general rule, it is recommended to clean your brushes every 2 to 4 weeks. For example, if you use a lot of hair products (especially dry shampoo), you may need to wash your hair brush more often than someone who doesn’t use hair products.

How Often Do You Need To Wash Hair Brushes?

Between washes, it is important to remove excess hair from your brush. Do this at least once a week! Comb through the bristles to remove stuck hair, or pull out the hair with your fingers. If your brush looks dusty or dirty after removing the excess hair, it’s time for a proper wash.

Ultimately, it is important to pay attention to the appearance of your brush and clean it when it looks dirty or dusty. Regular hair brush cleaning will help keep your brush in good condition and prevent the buildup of dirt and oils that can harm your hair and scalp. To learn more about how to clean your hair brush, check out our comprehensive guide on hair brush cleaning below.

How to Clean Hair Brushes: Supplies

The first step in learning how to wash hair brushes is gathering your supplies. These are the supplies you’ll need for hair brush cleaning:

How to Clean Hair Brushes: Supplies

  • Soap or shampoo (You don’t need a special soap; the shampoo you use on your hair will work just fine)
  • A toothbrush or small cleaning brush
  • A comb or tweezers for removing hair and other dirt stuck in the bristles
  • Scissors (to remove any knotted hair)
  • A bowl or clean sink
  • A clean, dry towel

Once you’ve gathered your hair brush cleaning supplies, proceed to the below instructions for the best way to clean hair brushes by hair brush type.

The Best Way To Clean Hair Brushes By Hair Brush Types

The next step in learning how to wash hair brushes is identifying the materials of your hair brush. Regardless of the shape (round, flat, etc.), most hair brushes are either made of plastic or wood/bamboo with plastic, metal, or boar bristles. Figure out the materials, and then read below for the best way to clean hair brushes by type.

How To Clean a Hair Brush Made of Plastic

Follow these instructions for cleaning hair brushes made of plastic, like the Wet Hair Detangler Brush and the Scalp Delight™ Scalp Massage Brush. You can also follow these instructions for a hair brush made of plastic with metal bristles or other synthetic materials that tolerate water.

  1. Remove all hair first using your fingers. If any hairs remain, use tweezers or the end of a teasing brush to remove them.
  2. Some hair brushes (like this Scalp Massage Brush) allow you to open them to wash the inside. If you can open the brush without breaking it, wash all parts separately.
  3. Soak the hair brush in warm, soapy water for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Use a toothbrush or your fingers to scrub the brush to remove all the dirt and grime.
  5. Rinse with clean water, then set the brush bristle side down on a towel to dry. Do not use a hair dryer or place the brush near a heat source, as this can damage the bristles.

Hint: Check out this hair brush guide to learn more about how to choose a good brush for your hair type.

How To Wash a Hair Brush Made of Wood or Bamboo

What about cleaning a hair brush made of wood or bamboo? Some examples include Bamboo Vented Brush and Bamboo Defining Brush that have a bamboo handle.

The best way to clean hair brushes made of wood does not involve soaking, as that could damage them. You’ll follow the same steps as how to clean a hairbrush made of plastic. The only difference is that instead of soaking, you should only dip it in water. That means that you might have to spend more time scrubbing the brush with your fingers or a toothbrush.

Also, let the brush dry with the bristles facing down. This will allow excess water to drip out of the brush pad so that the hair brush dries entirely and doesn’t warp the wood. Most wooden or bamboo brushes have a small hole in the pad that lets water fall out.

How To Clean a Hair Brush With Boar Bristles

What about how to wash hair brushes with boar bristles or other natural fibers? To clean a boar bristle brush, follow the steps above on how to clean a hair brush made of plastic. Be extra careful not to damage the delicate natural fiber bristles. Do not soak a boar bristle brush and only wash it with a sulfate-free shampoo to prevent the bristles from drying out.

How to Clean Hair Brushes That Are Extra Dirty

Sometimes the above steps on how to clean hair brushes aren’t enough to clean an extra dirty hair brush. If you run into that situation, try some of these tips for how to wash very dirty hair brushes:

  • Use tweezers, scissors, or a rattail comb – Before washing the brush, use these tools to remove loose hair and tangles stuck in the bristles. This will make it easier to clean the brush thoroughly.
  • Brush both horizontally and vertically – After removing the tangles, use a soft-bristled cleaning brush or your fingers to brush the bristles horizontally and vertically gently. This will help to loosen any dirt or product buildup stuck in the bristles.
  • Focus on each bristle – To clean the brush effectively, focus on each bristle one by one. Use a soft-bristled brush or your fingers to gently scrub each bristle, making sure to reach all the crevices.
  • Soak in vinegar – For hair brushes made out of plastic with plastic or metal bristles, soaking in a solution of warm water and vinegar can help remove dirt and product buildup. Vinegar is also an excellent way to kill lice.

4 Common Mistakes With Cleaning Hair Brushes

When cleaning hair brushes, several common mistakes can damage and shorten your brush's lifespan. Keep these in mind when learning the best way to clean hair brushes. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when cleaning hair brushes:

1. Not Cleaning Often Enough

One of the most common mistakes is not cleaning your hairbrush often enough. As a result, dirt, oil, product buildup, and hair can accumulate quickly and clog the bristles, making it difficult to style your hair and leading to an unhealthy scalp. Generally, if you can see dirt or dust on your brush, it’s time to clean it!

2. Soaking Wooden or Bamboo Brushes

You should not soak wooden or bamboo brushes in water as they can absorb the water and warp or break apart. To clean these brushes, use a soft-bristled brush or cloth to remove any tangles and dirt gently. You can get them wet by dipping them in water, but ensure that you dry them thoroughly.

3. Using Harsh Cleansing Agents

Using harsh products like alcohol-based cleaners can ruin the hair brush and make the bristles break off. Instead, opt for gentler, more natural cleaning solutions like soap, sulfate free shampoo, water, and vinegar.

4. Not Paying Attention to How You Dry the Brush

After washing your brush, it's essential to dry it properly. If you ignore how you dry the brush, water can get trapped inside, damaging the brush and encouraging mold growth. Hair brushes with a brush pad should always be dried bristle side down to allow water to drip out of the brush pad. Keep brushes away from heat sources and allow them to air dry rather than using a hair dryer.

When Is It Time To Buy A New Brush?

Most brushes can last for years if they are cared for well and cleaned regularly. But even when following the best way to clean hair brushes, eventually, you’ll need to replace your brush.

It's time to buy a new hair brush when the bristles start to fray, become stiff, or fall out, the handle becomes loose, or the brush begins to look worn out and discolored. Additionally, if you notice that your hair brush is no longer effectively detangling or styling your hair, consider replacing it. Finally, if you need clarification on whether it's time to buy a new brush, a simple test is to pull on the bristles gently; if they come out easily or in large numbers, it's time to invest in a new brush.

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Hair brush cleaning is essential for maintaining healthy hair and scalp and keeping your brushes in good condition. Following the best way to clean hair brushes and avoiding common mistakes can effectively remove dirt, oil, product buildup, and other pollutants. In addition, regular hair brush cleaning can help prevent infections, skin conditions, and other issues and extend the lifespan of your brushes. By following these tips on how to wash your hair brush, you can enjoy healthy, well-styled hair every day.

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