How to Clean Makeup Brushes (Cheap, Quick & Easy!)

Last time I counted, I had over 80 makeup brushes. EIGHTY!! I know, it’s ridiculous. Judge me all you want, but it’s part of the job description as a self-proclaimed beauty addict. Anyway, do you knowย how longย it takes to clean every single one of them? Freaking forever. I loathe this task, but it has to be done.

I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to spend money on special makeup brush cleansers. I don’t believe in some spa glove thing. I don’t need a specific cleanser for my beauty blender. I use stuff I have on hand around the house. It gets the job done, and does it well. I make sure to take good care of my brushes and not let them go too long in between baths.

I’ve found a couple of methods on how to clean makeup brushes that work really well for me. I am going to share them today in hopes one of these methods works well for you. I don’t do one specific way every time, it just depends on what and how much needs to be cleaned.

Clean Makeup Brushes in a Dish Soap Soak

Clean makeup brushes with Dawn dish soap - soak in soapy water and it gets them squeaky clean!

This has now become my absolute favorite way to clean makeup brushes. I will take a few mason jars and fill the bottom of them with a good coating of dish soap (yes, we’re talking Dawn) and then top it off with some warm water about halfway up. I take my brushes and swirl them around in the soapy water and let them soak for a few minutes. Then I will take them out one at a time and rinse them under warm water. If some need extra attention, I will clean them individually with the soap.

It’s important to note that the soak method is not the way to do it every single time, and you can’t let the brushes soak for too long. Getting too much moisture in the brush ferrule can be damaging. I like to do this weekly when I have a big batch to clean, and not for a deep clean session. If I am going for a deep clean, I will clean brushes individually with dish soap, and it works amazingly. My thoughts are if Dawn is okay to clean animals with, it’s okay to clean makeup brushes with. I have not found that it is damaging to any of them.ย Using dish soap individually on my beauty blenders is the best way I’ve found to clean them. I love the results!

Clean Makeup Brushes with Dove Bar Soap

Clean makeup brushes with Dove bar soap - great for spot cleaning. Love this idea!

I absolutely love this method for spot cleaning. If I’m doing my makeup, and I get a brush super dirty (especially eyeshadow brushes), I’ll spot clean it with a bar of Dove Soap (rubbing it around on the bar and rinsing with warm water) and put the brush up to use for next time.

Clean Makeup Brushes with Baby Shampoo

Clean makeup brushes with baby shampoo - gentle and leaves bristles super soft!

This used to be my absolute favorite way to clean my brushes, but I feel like it takes forever when you’ve got a lot to clean. What I like about this method, though, is it is very gentle to brushes, and leaves them soft. I like to do this when I have about 10 or less to clean.

Clean Makeup Brushes with Olive Oil

Clean makeup brushes with olive oil - great way to get out stubborn products like concealer and to condition the brush bristles.

I wouldn’t exactly call this method “quick” if you were to do this with every single brush, but it is absolutely the best way to clean concealer brushes, or to remove any stubborn products lingering on brushes. No matter how much cleaning I do, sometimes concealer just doesn’t want to budge. Pouring a little olive oil in a small dish and swirling around the bristles practically melts theย makeup away from the brush. I will then follow up with either baby shampoo or dish soap and individually clean the brush. Added bonus: this is very conditioning to the bristles! One thing you can do is dip a brush into olive oil and then do the dish soap soak. It leaves the brushes very soft and shiny.


An important note about drying: I towel dry my brushes as much as I can one by one, and try to set them on a downward angle to get completely dry. I try to avoid as much water in the ferrule as possible.

What is your favorite way to clean makeup brushes? More importantly. how often do you clean them? Come on, fess up.

Confused on how to clean makeup brushes? Use items around the house! Save time and money!


  • Reply
    October 26, 2015 at 9:09 am

    I’ve never done the olive oil and I don’t have many brushes at all. I use my dove soap and call it a day! I’ve never towel dried mine, just usually put them at an angle so water stays out like you mentioned. Maybe I should start hand drying!

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      October 27, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      Hand drying definitely helps get them dry quicker (I just wring them gently with a towel)! Dove soap totally rocks, too ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    GoFashiondeals (@Gofashiondeals)
    October 26, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    I use baby shampoo too! It is the best! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      October 27, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      Yes! I love it!!!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Olive oil, no way! I would never have thought of that. I don’t clean my brushes nearly enough, but now that I know I can use dish soap or baby soap I’ll be doing it more often!

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      October 27, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      Yes, it’s seriously the best for stubborn makeup! Especially cream/concealer products that are hard to clean. You just have to follow up with a soap product! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom
    October 27, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Wow this was super helpful Meg! I think I have about8 or 9 brushes… no where near your 80+ but I’ve never cleaned them! GASP!

    Pinning this to my Deliberate BEAUTY board for reference. Olive oil is awesome… seriously.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Meg O.
      October 27, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Girl you need to clean those brushes stat!! Glad I could help ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the pin!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    EEK I am SO bad at cleaning my brushes. I use the sephora brush shampoo and the spray for spot cleaning (My MIL used to manage a Sephora so I got them for free) it does a pretty good job, but your methods seem much more affordable ๐Ÿ˜‰ I probably clean my brushes about once a week with the spray cleanser and much less for shampooing.. like much less than I should be.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2015 at 10:54 am

    I usually use dish soap or my face wash. I’ll have to give the olive oil trick a try for my foundation brushes!

  • Reply
    Hair And Handsum » Blog Archive » How to Clean Makeup Brushes (Cheap, Quick & Easy!)
    June 8, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    […] Click here to read more […]

  • Reply
    Amy Hufston
    July 28, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Thanks for sharing! I agree that makeup brushes should be cleaned only using gentle products, because otherwise you risk all kinds of skin irritation or even allergies.

  • Reply
    Serving Blog
    September 29, 2016 at 11:53 am

    We Love This Quick And Clean

    […] e the sephora brush shampoo and the spray for spot cleaning (My MIL used to mana […]

  • Reply
    June 23, 2017 at 5:24 am

    Thanks for sharing awesome post. As we are just student at the moment. We can not spend too much money on such products. As long as cleaning products are non toxic and affordable price its all good.

  • Reply
    Alex Norman
    July 5, 2017 at 5:15 am

    Muchos Gracias for your article post.Really thank you for sharing this useful steps for cleaning make up brushes. I tried your all steps and now my brushes are good. ๐Ÿ™‚

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