How to Clean a Hairbrush

Follow this quick, simple routine to keep your hairbrush clean of natural oils and buildup.

dirty hairbrush

A clean hairbrush will promote scalp health and reduce split ends.

Photo by: Getty Images; Rachel Husband

Getty Images; Rachel Husband

A clean hairbrush will promote scalp health and reduce split ends.

For many, the hairbrush is the most used tool in the home. The most useful hairbrushes are perfectly suited to one's hair type and hairstyle. But, regardless of whether you have long locks or luscious curls, a brush can quickly go from looking like new to seeming old and gnarly.

All hairbrushes accumulate hair, scalp oils, skin cells and other types of dust. Given what it encounters, it’s no surprise that a trusted hairbrush needs to be clean to do its job and promote good hair health. A clean hairbrush free of dust mites will promote scalp health and reduce split ends.

It might not be high on your list of chores, but cleaning your hairbrush routinely has many benefits. Clean hairbrush bristles — free of mousses and hair spray — will work through your hair more easily than dirty bristles.

clean hairbrush

Clean hairbrush bristles — free of mousses and hair spray — will work through your hair more easily than dirty bristles.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Parilov

Shutterstock/Parilov

Clean hairbrush bristles — free of mousses and hair spray — will work through your hair more easily than dirty bristles.

Easy Steps to Clean a Hairbrush

  1. Use a pointed tool, such as the end of a paintbrush, a comb or a chopstick to loosen wound and bound hairs.

    Removing the hairs also removes some accompanying dust and skin from between the bristles. It’s easier to remove this hair while the brush is dry.

  2. Fill a sink or large bowl with warm water and a few drops of shampoo.

    Synthetic hairbrushes can also be cleaned by soaking them in water with liquid dish soap. Natural bristles are best cleaned with a gentle shampoo.

  3. If your brush is synthetic with plastic or metal bristles, submerge the whole brush in the water for 5-10 minutes.

    The warm water will loosen buildup of dust, scalp oils and residual hair products that adhere to the bristles and brush base. Wooden handles shouldn’t be fully submerged, but you can agitate the bristles in water while holding the handle.

  4. Squeeze and saturate the brush in the water so that the soap treats the brush both inside and out.

  5. Use a toothbrush or paintbrush bristles to scrub at the base of the bristles.

    You’ve probably noticed that there’s extra buildup or white flakes where each bristle meets the handle of the brush. Clean that out as well as you’re able.

  6. Drain the dirty water and refill the bowl or sink with fresh warm water.

    Soak and cleanse the brush again to wash away any soap or shampoo.

  7. Dry the brush in a clean towel to absorb as much moisture as possible.

    You’ll want to squeeze any cavities that contain water to try to limit bacteria growth.

Cleaning a Wooden Hairbrush

While plastic and synthetic hairbrushes can easily be soaked, a brush with a wooden handle or wooden bristles should not be submerged in water. Instead, try this:

  1. Remove as much hair and dust as possible using a chopstick or the pointed end of a comb.

  2. Agitate the bristles — not the whole brush — in a sink filled with warm, soapy water.

  3. Use a toothbrush or stiff crafting paintbrush to gently clean between the wet bristles.

    You’ll need to do a little more work agitating where the bristles meet the base of the brush to remove oils.

  4. Absorb moisture with a clean, dry cloth and allow the brush and bristles to air dry.
Wooden hairbrushes shouldn't be submerged

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While plastic and synthetic hair brushes can easily be soaked, a brush with a wooden handle or wooden bristles should not be submerged in water.

Photo by: Getty Images; Phornphan Pradittiemphon / EyeEm

Getty Images; Phornphan Pradittiemphon / EyeEm

While plastic and synthetic hair brushes can easily be soaked, a brush with a wooden handle or wooden bristles should not be submerged in water.

Cleaning Natural Bristles

Many hairbrushes contain natural bristles, like boar bristles or horsehair. Some brushes have a hybrid of natural bristles and synthetic bristles. Brushes that include natural bristles may need a little more TLC, but you can still safely and easily clean them regularly using ordinary shampoo.

Choose a shampoo that contains no sulfates, as sulfates can strip away moisture in the natural material.

Following the previous processes, you can ensure that your clean hairbrush will last longer and help promote good hair health.

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