PSA: You Need To Start Cleaning Your Hairbrush And Here’s Why

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Written by Sophie Mara

Updated: June 26, 2024

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image via @kentbrushes

If you’re having trouble recalling the last time you cleaned your hairbrush, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Most of us pick up our brushes daily and habitually run them through our hair, but amongst all the other steps in our weekly haircare routine like shampooing, conditioning, blowdrying, and styling, washing our brushes rarely seems to make the roster. 

We’d like to say you shouldn’t worry about it and your hair will be just fine, but as it turns out, those product-covered bristles tangled with weeks’ worth of fallen strands are stressing out your precious tresses!

Luckily, as with most haircare woes, there’s a simple and speedy solution. It’s time to start regularly washing your hairbrushes, and we’re going to show you how. 

Why Should You Clean Your Hairbrush?

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image via @lamirshop

Before we learn how let’s talk about why you should keep those bristles squeaky clean. 

First, every product you put into your hair inevitably ends up in your hairbrush—from heat protectant to styling mousse and the hair oils you use for shine. This concoction of formulas can sit on your brush for weeks and the worst part is you’re constantly adding to it! 

Another thing that happens?

Get ready because it’s way worse than product build-up. Not cleaning your brush will lead to the production of… bacteria. The conditions are perfect for those little microbes to live and grow and the only way to stop them is to wash them away. 

Oh, and if you’re wondering about those delightful, fuzzy grey circles that form around the base of your brush bristles, they’re just about the worst part of it all.

These seemingly harmless fluff balls are a combination of lint from clothing and the towel you wrap around your hair after a shower, dust particles from the air, dead skin cells, and left-over hair products.

Basically, they’re completely gross – and they need to go!

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Hairbrush? 

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image via @mirtadeperales

The verdict’s in and leaving your brush to bathe in fallen hair, dead skin cells, and months-old product is no longer an option. 

When left to sit and, *gulp* breed, the germs and various bacteria on your brush will transfer to your hair. So, even if you’ve only just showered, the moment you run an unclean brush through your freshly washed locks, they’re already on the way to looking dirty and greasy.

We’re personally not prepared to shampoo, condition, blow dry, and style our hair if that’s the case!

In addition, de-tangling your tresses with a dirty hairbrush deposits bacteria onto your scalp. This can lead to poor scalp health and plenty of irritation.

Over time, this grim concoction of nasties can even create a somewhat unpleasant odor. You definitely don’t want to be brushing that through the lengths of your hair!

How To Clean Your Hairbrush

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image via @tangleteezerarg

The key to cleaning your hairbrush is to be gentle but thorough. You want to make sure all hair and excess product gets removed without damaging the integrity of the bristles. Especially if you’ve chosen to invest in a pricey hair tool like a Mason Pearson brush

First things first, before deep cleaning those bristles and the pad of your brush, you’ll need to get rid of all the excess hair. We recommend doing this two or three times a week, but removing and disposing of the strands after each brushing session is a good habit to get into.  

Once all the hair is gone, give your brush a deep clean with warm water, and some form of soap. We recommend shampoo since we already know it’s safe for our hair.

Start by adding water to your sink or a large bowl and submerge the whole brush from the handles to the bristles. We want to get this whole thing clean now we know what lurks on it! 

Let it soak in the water for ten minutes, or swish the brush around for a minute to loosen the debris if you’re on a time crunch. Lift it out, drain the water, and rinse it off.

Now, apply a little shampoo and, using your fingertips, or a bristle-cleaning brush if you’ve gone that route, work the suds into the pad of your brush and all around the bristles. You want to see all of that build-up melting away. Rinse the brush and repeat if necessary. 

Oh, and if this is the first time you’re cleaning your brush in a while, or in, let’s be honest, ever, a second cleaning is definitely a good idea.

How To Clean A Heated Hair Brush

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image via @sultrabeauty

Cleaning a regular hairbrush is simple, but what about a heating hairbrush?

Product build-up on these tools can damage and even burn your hair so it’s just as important as cleaning your regular brush. However, since we can’t exactly dip an electrical device in hot soapy water and call it a day, we’ve looked up the safest ways to clean them that actually get the job done. 

First of all, make sure your heated brush is unplugged and completely cool. Next, dip a cloth in warm water, then ring it out so there are absolutely no drips.

The last thing we want is water making its way inside the brush.  Use the barely damp cloth to gently remove any dirt or product build-up. 

If that doesn’t work, or you need to be a little more precise, try a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad or Q-tip. Just remember to wipe it away and dry the brush off completely before using it again. 

How Often Should You Clean our Hairbrush? 

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image via @tekbrushes

If you’re worried you now have to add ‘daily hairbrush cleaning’ to your already lengthy to-do list, don’t fret. While those with longer hair will likely need to clean their hairbrushes and combs about every two weeks, most can get away with a monthly clean. 

However, if you happen to use a lot of product, or you notice a build-up forming on your brush more often than that, we do recommend cleaning your hairbrush on a more frequent schedule so that doesn’t happen.

Now you’ve read what happens when you don’t clean them, we’re pretty sure you won’t need convincing anyway!  

How To Store Your Hairbrush

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image via @naakedbeauty

In addition to all of the fallen hair and dead skin cells, your brush is frequently exposed to daily dirt and grime.

We know your favorite paddle and round brushes have been with you for more years than you can remember, living in different draws, the side of the sink, the dresser, the bottom of your handbag, and more.

It’s probably your most well-traveled accessory! That means it needs and deserves a better home that can protect it from dust and dirt. 

So, find a plastic box or bag that’s easily cleanable, and store your brush inside when you’re done using it. If that sounds like too much hassle, at least get into the habit of popping your brush into the drawer after use.

It’ll collect less dust and dirt that way and will save you from having to scrub it as often – it’s a win-win!

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