2 Ways To Naturally Clean And Disinfect Your Makeup Brushes and Sponges


Eyeshadow and blush apply best with sponges, while foundation and concealer go on the smoothest with a sponge. If you wear makeup on a regular basis, it’s important to clean your brushes and sponges to rid them of bacteria. (Spring cleaning, anyone?)

Because those tools touch your skin, you want to use a non-toxic and all natural cleaner. Thankfully, we have options for you. Both are simple and organic ways to get the job done.

The benefits of clean makeup brushes and sponges

It’s normal to forget about cleaning things like makeup brushes, hairbrushes, and even toothbrushes. But regular maintenance will help your quality products last longer; dirty or damaged bristles will break down sooner than well-cared-for ones. And since you made the investment to purchase decent brushes, take the initiative to keep them for a very long time by routine cleaning.

Dirty brushes and sponges harbor bacteria, collect dead skin cells and actually look dirty. This prevents them from fulfilling their purpose of smooth and even makeup application, plus it can clog your pores, irritate your skin, or spread bacteria. No thank you!

How often should you clean your makeup brushes and sponges?

How often do you wash your face? How often do you apply makeup? How thickly do you apply your skin products? Those questions will determine how frequently you should wash your makeup sponges and brushes. But most people recommend once a week on average, or at least once a month.

How to clean and disinfect your makeup brushes and sponges

We believe that these are the two best, all-natural methods to clean your makeup brushes and sponges. Option one uses witch hazel while option two uses soap. Both choices clean your makeup tools while also disinfecting them. (Although if you’ve been a busy Mama and haven’t cleaned your makeup brushes or sponges ever in a long time, try rinsing them under warm water to remove excess residue.) Each method is detailed below, including a few helpful notes to determine which one will suit your needs best.

Option 1: clean your makeup brushes and sponges with witch hazel

1½ cups water (either distilled or boiled)
2 Tbsp of witch hazel (or rubbing alcohol)
½ tsp olive oil (best for brushes with real hair bristles)
2 tsp castile soap
20 drops tea tree essential oil
glass jar or spray bottle

Directions to create the witch hazel makeup brush and sponge cleaner:

  1. Combine the witch hazel, olive oil, castile soap, and essential oils in a jar. Gently swirl to combine.
  2. Slowly add the water until the jar is nearly full. Put on the lid and shake well to combine.

Direction to use the witch hazel makeup brush and sponge cleaner:

  1. If brush or sponge is very dirty, first rinse it off in warm water.
  2. Pour a small amount of the cleaner into a bowl. Make sure the water will not rise above where the bristles connect to the handle (this will prevent the glue from weakening).
  3. Swish brush into a bowl, gently rubbing the bristles along the bottom of the bowl. Or, saturate the sponge in the mixture. (Do not soak your brushes.)
  4. Rinse the brush or sponge under mild water with the bristles facing down (again, avoid where the brush and handle meet to prevent the glue from getting wet).
  5. Gently squeeze out the brush or sponge and allow to fully dry. Either lay flat on a towel or rubberband the brush to a cutting board and stand the cutting board up so that the bristles are facing down (and the water will drip down).
  6. You can also spray the cleaner onto brushes directly after each use. Allow brush to fully dry.

Notes: Witch hazel is a natural disinfectant, but you can substitute with alcohol. The olive oil in this recipe keeps your brush bristles smooth and conditioned. Some people suggest only using oil (no witch hazel) for brushes with natural bristles and only using witch hazel (no oil) for synthetic brushes.

Option 2: clean your makeup brushes and sponges with soap and water (plus essential oils)

1 Tbsp castile soap
3 drops tea tree essential oil
3 drops lemon essential oil
3 drops lavender essential oil
2 Tbsp water (distilled or boiled)
glass jar

Directions to create the makeup brush and sponge cleaner:

  1. Combine the castile soap and essential oils in small jar. Place the lid on and shake to combine.
  2. Add the water and shake again to combine.

Directions to use the makeup brush and sponge cleaner:

  1. Gently rub the brush or sponge into the cleaner, rubbing along the bottom of the jar or along your palm to agitate. (Do not soak your brushes.)
  2. Rinse under warm water and squeeze the brush or sponge dry.

Notes: The castile soap naturally breaks down grease and dirt. If you have extra greasy brushes, add additional castile soap as needed to the original recipe.

How do you clean your makeup brushes and sponges?

We think these two methods are the best ways to clean your makeup tools! Option 1 is best for a spray bottle that can be applied directly after each use, while option 2 is a great choice for a deep clean. How do you clean your makeup brushes and sponges? Leave a comment below with your favorite all-natural method!