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How to Clean Hair Brushes and 5 Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid

Beauty salon hair brushes and hair tools

Let’s be honest, a clean hairbrush is much more effective than a dirty one. It collects dust and dead skin debris and the constant accumulation of these materials is harmful to our beautiful locks! It is important to remove all the hair and debris from our hair brushes and beauty tools to ensure our scalp and hair stay healthy. Learning how to clean a hairbrush is super important! Let’s find out how!

Types of Hair Brushes

Paddle Brushes

Paddle brushes are the most common. Usually, these are plastic with synthetic bristles. The base of the paddle brush is large and flat and a great option for most people.

Natural Brushes

Natural brushes are the often made from animal hair. While they tend to be more expensive than their plastic counterpart, they typically last a lot longer.

What Is All of That Dust?

Have you ever looked at your hairbrush and wondered what all of those little pieces of dust were? They are typically a combination of dead skin cells and lint. All of these particles stick to the bristles when combined with natural oils from your scalp as well as hair product residue.

Why You Should Be Cleaning It Regularly

As with any beauty tool, hair brushes are often worn over time. Dust mites and other skin bacterial toxins accumulate in the clumped hairs. These can cause high risks for infections that cause uncomfortable dry and itchy scalps as well as cause your hair to get greasy faster.

According to a report by the University of Arizona, it was found that a dirty hair brush that doesn’t get a regular wash can contain almost 3,500 colonies of bacteria per square inch! Needless to say, to keep our hair germ free and clean, we need to know how to best clean a hairbrush.

Woman with long and clean hair

What Tools Do You Need?

  • Pintail comb
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Clean toothbrush
  • Shampoo
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Disinfecting spray
  • Baking soda
  • Sink or large bowl
  • Clean towel
Clean hairbrush

How to Clean a Hairbrush

Step 1: Remove All of the Loose Hair

Using your fingers or a pintail comb, pick out as much hair from the bristles as you can. The larger clumps should be fairly easy to remove. However, you can use tweezers and even scissors to get any built-up hair that is stuck and won’t come out easily. Small pieces of lint can be removed later during the washing process.

Step 2: Wash!

Fill your bathroom sink or bowl with warm water. Use a gentle shampoo (baby shampoo works great!) or clarifying shampoo and add a few drops to the water.

  • TIP! Instead of soap you can use dryer sheets instead! Simply place 2-3 sheets into the warm water with the brushes to soak. Let them soak for about 3 hours and follow the rest of the instructions below.

Let it soak. To loosen up the build-up, and make for an easier clean-up, soak the hairbrush for about 10 minutes in the water.

For wooden hairbrushes only soak the bristles and not the wood. Use a shallow bowl that allows only the bristles to be submerged in the water and keeps the handle free from moisture. Soaking the handle can cause the wood to deteriorate and lead to the brush falling apart.

  • If the wooden handle does need a thorough cleaning use a toothbrush or cotton swab dipped in the soapy water and scrub away all the dirt and grime! Afterward, dry it with a towel and set it on a towel to fully dry.
Hairy hairbrush

After soaking, use a toothbrush to gently scrub between all of the bristles and loosen up any stubborn particles. Swish it around in the water often to free the dust and dirt from the bristles.

For excess build up dip the hairbrush into dry baking soda and scrub again with the toothbrush and warm water. The baking soda will help those particularly stuck particles to break free from their hiding places! Baking soda is a great option if your brush needs a particularly deep clean!

Step 3: Rinse, Rinse, Rinse!

Once you’ve finished washing the hairbrush make sure to rinse it thoroughly under clean, warm water.

Shake out any extra water and set on a towel with the bristles facing down to air dry overnight.

Step 4: Sanitize

Pulling hair out of brush

To make sure all of those yucky germs are completely gone take the extra step and sanitize your brush.

Mix 1/2 cup isopropyl alcohol and 1/2 cup water then dip the bristles into the solution and swish around thoroughly.

Place on a towel to air dry completely overnight.

How to Wash Your Hairbrush With Vinegar Instead of Soap

If you’d prefer to use vinegar over soap to cleanse, here is how to do it.

Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1/4 cup of white vinegar. Use this solution to soak the brush head in, in place of the water and shampoo listed in the directions above. Carry on with the rest of the process as described.

Natural and clean wooden hairbrush

How Often Should You Clean Your Hairbrush?

Do you use a lot of styling products? If yes, then you should regularly be washing your hair brushes once a week. If not, it is a good practice to clean it every 2-3 weeks.

  • You can also sanitize often in between cleansing to keep germs at bay.
    • TIP: Add your sanitizing solution to a small spray bottle and spray your hairbrush after each use to kill bacteria lingering on the bristles!

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Your Hairbrush

Woman brushing her hair with a hair brush

Skipping Regular Cleanings

It is very important to regularly clean your hairbrush, otherwise, you are allowing it to become filled with dust, lint, and product build-up. This will make it harder to clean in the future and spread the dirt to your clean hair with each use.

Soaking a Wooden Hairbrush

wooden-handled brushes are much more delicate than a typical plastic paddle brush with synthetic bristles. To properly take care of the wood make sure to never soak it in water and keep completely dry when possible. Excess water can seep into the porous wooden material and cause the brush to fall apart.

Using High Temperatures

High temperatures can cause serious damage to your hair brush. Whether your brush is plastic or wooden refrain from applying high heat directly to the brush. Use warm water instead of hot and avoid using heat tools close to the hairbrush. These things can cause a plastic brush to melt, and natural bristles to become damaged.

Sanitizing Natural Bristles with Alcohol

As stated before it is recommended to never use any alcohol solution on a natural bristle brush.

Ignore the Brush Handle

Don’t forget to clean the brush handle often! Use a toothbrush, towel, and sanitizer to remove build-up and grime from the hairbrush handle.

Sanitizing Solution for Natural Bristles

Girl brushing her hair

There are many different kinds of materials used for the bristles in natural hair brushes. The most common is boar bristles. These are much easier to damage than typical plastic brush bristles. You should never apply an alcohol-based cleanser or sanitizer/disinfectant to a natural bristle brush. Instead, try this!

What You’ll Need:

  • Natural hairbrush (i.e. boar or hoarse hair bristles)
  • Tea tree essential oil

What You’ll Do:

After cleaning your hairbrush with warm, soapy water use the tea tree essential oil to disinfect. A few drops straight onto the bristles work great! (Use the tea tree essential oil often to keep your brush clean and avoid spreading germs to freshly washed hair)

How to Clean a Hair Comb

Clean hair brushes are great, but sometimes we can forget that a clean comb is just as important! Unlike a hairbrush, a comb is much easier to clean. A comb is typically made up of plastic. Simply use a toothbrush to scrub away at all of the build-ups with your soap and water. If you have a comb with natural materials make sure to dry it completely after washing.

What Have We Learned?

Clean hair brush after learning how to clean hair brushes

We’ve learned that our hair brush is potentially a very dirty place! However, with a regular cleaning routine, we can keep that bacteria and germs at bay. Ultimately, clean hairbrushes will lead our hair and scalp to be healthier and cleaner. Clean brushes equal clean hair!

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