How to Clean Your Hairbrush: A 3-Step Guide

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How to Clean a Hairbrush in 3 Simple Steps

Cleaning your hairbrush is as important as it is forgotten. If you’re scraping a grungy hairbrush through your locks—read our ridiculously easy three-step process on how to clean a hairbrush below.

We know what you’re thinking—you already have shower curtains, microwaves, even jewelry to clean, and now we’re adding your hairbrush to that list?

Yes, it’s true, but hear us out. Knowing how to clean a hairbrush is not only important for your health, but it’s also supremely easy. Our simple three-step process outlined below will have your hairbrush looking brand new and only requires a few common supplies you probably have at home. Still not convinced? Here’s why you should clean your hairbrush regularly.

Why Should You Clean Your Hairbrush?

The soft or rigid spokes of a hairbrush are designed to pull natural oils through your hair, aiding in styling, smoothing, and detangling strands. However, they also act like sponges over repeated use, gradually collecting a gross film of product residues, like shampoo, conditioner, gels, and sprays. Broken hair, dead skin cells, and natural oils will also join the party.

Depending on how you store your brush, you may see environmental contaminants build up as well. Brush bristles that are already oily from hair products become natural magnets for undesirables like dust, soot, and lint.

When you drag a dirty hairbrush through your freshly shampooed hair, you end up depositing that grime back into it. At best, your luxurious locks will get greasier faster and will be harder to tame. Worse, you could introduce bacteria to your scalp, causing infection, dry or itchy skin, and other problems.

Luckily, we’ll show you how to clean your hairbrush in just three easy steps and with a few common household supplies. Now that you’re with us, let’s collect the items we’ll need.

Supplies You’ll Need

It doesn’t take much time, effort, or supplies when it comes to cleaning a hairbrush, and in fact, it’s likely you have everything on hand already. If not, everything can be found at your local grocery or department store.

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How to Clean Your Hairbrush

Did we already mention how easy cleaning a hairbrush is? It takes just minutes and the benefits far outweigh the time and effort involved. So why don’t people do it more often? It’s mostly just a lack of awareness. In fact, since you’re reading this, your biggest barrier is not knowing how to clean your hairbrush. Follow these three easy steps, and your strands will thank you.

Step 1: Remove Hair from the Bristles

There’s likely a bird’s nest of hair swirled around the base of the bristles on your brush. First, remove as much hair as possible by simply grabbing at it with your fingers. For particularly entangled hair, employ the help of a rat tail comb (a comb with a pointed end) or tweezers. The rat tail will help you get underneath gobs of hair and lift it up. If any hair remains, turn to the tweezers to get a solid purchase on these final stubborn strands and pull them away from the brush.

Step 2: Soak, Dip, Shake, and Scrub the Hairbrush

With the hair removed, it’s time to wash away the scum from hair product residue, dust, and debris. To do so, fill up your sink or bowl with warm water and add several drops of shampoo. We recommend a gentle vegan shampoo that cleans your hairbrush and keeps the environment clean at the same time. For additional cleaning power, add a tablespoon of baking soda. Finally, mix it all up to create suds.

Once you have your brush bath prepared, pay special attention to the type of hairbrush you have. Depending on its materials, the next step varies slightly.

Plastic hairbrushes – Submerge the entire brush into your cleaning solution for at least 3 minutes and up to 5 for good measure.

Wood hairbrushes – Fully submerging a wood hairbrush into liquid could cause damage to the finish or grain of the wood. Instead, dip only the bristles into the hairbrush cleaning solution. After dipping your hairbrush, firmly shake it by the handle or tap vigorously on the back of the brush head to help dislodge stuck-on contaminants that have accumulated over time. Repeat the above process as many times as you like or until your brush comes out squeaky clean.

Hairbrushes with fabric bases – Follow the same procedure you would for wood hairbrushes and wet only the bristles. Otherwise, water can end up trapped beneath the base and may even cause mold to grow. Dip and shake repeatedly until you are satisfied with your work.

For faster results or for very dirty hairbrushes—plastic or wood—use a new toothbrush for mechanical agitation around the base and bristles. Dip your toothbrush into the cleaning solution you made earlier and scrub each bristle from base to tip.

hands cleaning hairbrush

Step 3: Rinse Your Hairbrush and Let it Dry

Rinse any hairbrush under a stream of cool water and inspect the bristles to ensure cleanliness and that all shampoo bubbles have been washed away. Next, set it out to air dry on a clean, dry towel for 12 hours or overnight. If you have one of the types of hairbrushes listed below, follow those particular drying instructions.

Wood hairbrushes – Rinse the bristles only. Before air drying, use a clean cloth to hand dry any wood sections that got wet during rinsing.

Hairbrushes with fabric bases – As previously mentioned, the wet fabric is prone to mold. Use a hairdryer set to low to gently dry the fabric base.

Round hairbrushes – Rotate your round brush 45 degrees every few hours to give all sides proper air circulation during drying.

How Often Should You Clean Your Hairbrush

There is no definitive frequency for cleaning a hairbrush, as it depends on your hair type (dry or oily), the products you use, and how often you brush. However, we share some general guidelines to help you narrow down your preferred hairbrush cleaning frequency below.

According to Healthline, humans normally shed up to 100 hairs per day. This isn’t much in the grand scheme of your 100,000 or more hair follicles—but can overwhelm a hairbrush pretty quickly. If you brush your hair daily, use your fingers or a rat tail comb to clean out your fallen locks every two or three days.

The best frequency for deeper cleanings depends on how often you shampoo, condition, and spray your hair. If your head is the landing zone for a bevy of hair products, aim to wash and scrub your hairbrush once per week. If you’re more likely to wear your hair naturally, once or twice a month should do.

Now that you know how to clean a hairbrush easily, naturally, and with just a few household supplies, you’re well on your way to becoming a DIY cleaning pro. And your education doesn’t stop here. Head over to the Public Goods blog for a wide array of informative how-to guides, home hacks, and eco-friendly tips that help you and the environment at the same time.

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