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How to Clean Hair Brushes | Step-by-Step Guide

Wondering how to clean hair brushes? You’re in the right place. Most people have never done this in their lives, but it’s a critical step to maintaining a healthy scalp. Read on to learn all you need to know in the guide below.


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Your brush is one of many objects you use every day, and sometimes several times per day, so you may not really think about sanitizing it. However, learning how to clean it is a crucial process, not only for the longevity of your brush, but for the health of your hair. 

Why Clean a Hair Brush

For a piece on how to clean hair brushes, a woman holding a brush in one hand and pulling hair from it with the other

ShotPrime Studio/Shutterstock

Did you know that one hair follicle can hold up to 50,000 germs? Now take a look at your hairbrush and imagine how many germs are sitting on all that hair stuck in the bristles. This is exactly why it’s important to clean your hairbrush regularly.

We all hear the word “clean” and want to run in the other direction, But cleaning your hairbrush isn’t hard at all. You can do so efficiently in just 10 minutes. 

A Quick Look

Let’s take a quick look at the steps we’ll discuss in greater detail below

  1. Remove hair using your hands or a comb
  2. Disinfect and rinse your brush
  3. Make it a habit to clean your brush every 2 to 3 weeks
  4. Remove hair every couple of days
  5. Clean your brush more often if you use styling products

Below, you can find tons of helpful information to ensure your brush is clean and ready to use. 

How to Clean Hair Brushes in 5 Easy Steps

Cleaning your brush is extremely important for the health of your hair and the lifespan of your brush. Think about the hair on your head for a moment.

We’ve all had those weeks that were just so super busy that we put off washing our hair. Dry shampoo is helpful for the first couple of days, but eventually, all the dirt, oil, and grime from our hands, sweat, and the air around us become very evident. 

Now think about running your brush through your hair on its dirtiest day. We may not consider this on a normal basis, but your brush traps anything and everything that’s on your head and in your hair. This includes oil, dirt, dead skin cells, hair styling products, and your hair itself. 

Not to mention, your brush probably sits out on a bathroom counter or in a caddy, where it slowly but surely collects dust and germs that are invisible to the naked eye. 

Needless to say, your brush takes quite a beating, and just like other beauty and hygiene products, it needs to be cleaned consistently. 

Otherwise, you end up redistributing all that gross gunk on your nice clean hair -and if you’re going to do that, you may as well not wash your hair at all. 

If you’re not sure how to clean hair brushes properly, don’t fret. We’ve put together five easy steps to have your brush looking good as new. 

1. Remove the Hair

For a piece on how to clean a hair brush, a woman pulling hair from the teeth of her wooden bristled brush

Sorapop Udomsri/Shutterstock

One day, your hairbrush is new, shiny, and clean. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, you notice your brush is jam-packed with clumps of hair. You may have so much hair in your brush that you wonder how there’s any left on your head. 

But no need to worry losing hair when you wash, brush, and style is natural and normal. You lose about 100 strands of hair per day.

Around 90 percent of your hair continuously grows regularly, so these strands are no huge loss for the average individual. 

However, a lot of loose strands come out when you brush through your hair, so you end up with a couple dozen on your brush (at least) every single day. This hair builds up, and it doesn’t take long. 

The first step in cleaning your hairbrush is to remove the hair that’s caught in the bristles. This step is typically pretty easy, but it also depends on the type of brush you have. 

If you have a wide brush with spread-out plastic bristles, you should be able to get most of the hair out with your fingers. More compact brushes with condensed bristles, such as boar bristle brushes, may be a little more difficult. 

An easy way to release the hair from your brush is to take a wide-toothed comb and comb the hair out of your brush. You can use the end of a rat tail comb to pull hair out of the base of the brush. 

If you run into a serious tangle, grab a pair of scissors to cut away knots. You can go back to your comb again to pull the hair out afterward. 

2. Wash and Disinfect

To help symbolize how to clean a hair brush, a bamboo brush sits on a towel next to a shampoo or cleaning solution

New Africa/Shutterstock

Many people remove the hair from their brush and call the job done. However, although your brush looks nice and free of hair, it’s certainly not yet clean. There are still tons of oils and germs sitting on the bristles that you need to take care of. 

Thankfully, cleaning and disinfecting your brush is simple as well. All you need is a bowl of warm water and a gentle shampoo. 

Add a few drops of shampoo to your warm water and stir it around until you start to form suds. Take your brush now free of hair and use the water to clean it. If you feel like you need a little bit of extra cleaning power, you can add a couple of teaspoons of baking soda as well. 

If you’re working with a plastic brush, you should submerge their entire thing in the water-shampoo mixture. Doing so will allow you to clean and disinfect the entire thing. 

Using your hands, rub over the brush to loosen any grime that might be clinging to it.

Let your brush sit and soak in the shampoo water for about 5 minutes.

If you have a wooden brush or a brush with soft padding, you should not dip the whole thing into the water as the water will damage these materials.

Instead, dip just the bristles in the water and scrub them with your hand. If you can, set something under the brush’s handle so that you can submerge just the bristles and let them soak for 5 minutes. 

After soaking your brush, shake it off and dip it in and out of the water several times. Doing so will loosen up any dirt, oils, product buildup, and dead skin cells. 

3. Scrub Extra, If Needed

Image of two wooden tooth brushes sitting next to baking soda and leaves and water

Lazy_Bear/Shutterstock

Whether it’s been a very long time since you’ve cleaned your brush or you simply use a lot of product, your hairbrush might need some extra TLC. You can put a little bit of extra work into cleaning it, so long as you have an extra toothbrush on hand. 

Take your toothbrush and dip it in the warm and soapy water that you created in Step 2. Use it to carefully scrub problem areas such as between bristles. 

You can scrub your brush as much as you need during this step. Just be sure to continuously dip and rinse your toothbrush. 

4. Rinse Your Brush and Dry

Image of a hair brush to help illustrate how to clean hair brushes featuring step 4 of letting it dry

Syda productions/Shutterstock

After you have thoroughly cleaned your brush, run it under cool water. You can do this in the sink or the bathtub whichever is easiest for you.

Remember to avoid soaking any padding on the brush or oversaturating wooden handles during this step. 

Take a dry, clean towel and wipe down your brush’s handle and bristles. You may be able to dry a plastic brush almost all the way, but other types of bristles will need to air dry. 

Lay the towel on a flat surface and place your brush, bristles facing down, on top of it to dry. Your brush should be completely dry in 1 to 2 hours. 

5. Repeat Regularly

Smiling young woman in a white camisole spraying heat protectant onto her hair

Prostock-Studio/Shutterstock

As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to make a habit out of deep cleaning your brush at least every 2 to 3 weeks. Doing so will help prevent any harmful buildup and will keep your hair looking and feeling clean. 

Anyone who regularly uses any other following hair products should clean their brushes more often:

  • Hairspray
  • Gel
  • Creams
  • Mouse 
  • Oils
  • Serums

These products transfer onto your brush and can cause buildup to happen much quicker. Therefore, try cleaning your brush once a week instead. 

Regardless of the products you use, it helps to remove hair from your brush consistently, too. If you can remember to do so, try to pull loose hairs out every other day. When it comes time to clean and disinfect, your job will be much easier. 

Things to Consider

Nice clean hair brush being held up in a pink room by a hand with white painted nails

Prostock-Studio/Shutterstock

Here are just a few things to keep in mind when cleaning your hairbrush:

  • Don’t use harsh cleaning products or chemicals
  • Never soak a brush with a wooden handle
  • Keep rat tail combs on hand to easily remove difficult hairs and knots
  • Replace your hairbrush every six months to a year, but sooner if your bristles are damaged
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2 Piece Hair Brush Cleaning Tool With Comb and Brush
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So, How Do You Clean Hair Brushes?

Cleaning a hairbrush is simple. All you need is warm water and your favorite shampoo, and you’ll be on your way. After removing excess hair and dipping the bristles a few times, a quick dry is all you need before you’re styling again.

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