Best Way to Clean Hair Brushes


Brushes, combs, all beauty tools you use to keep your hair conditioned will get messy over time. If you’re starting to have trouble brushing your hair then perhaps your brush is in need of some cleaning.

You may also want to disinfect it if this is the first time you’re doing this. If you clean the brush regularly then there should be no need to use disinfectant.

Depending on which type of brush you have, you might need to use different products or cleaning techniques. Cushioned brushes, wooden brushes, metallic brushes, they don’t react in the same way to cleaners. Here are a few tips on how to clean your hair brush in any situation.

Too Much Hair

If you have a long thick set of hair, your main concern would be leftover hair between the teeth of the brush. Hair tends to get stuck at the bottom of the teeth if your brush is non-metallic or if it has a fabric core.

The first thing to do is to try and remove the leftover strands with your fingers. This won’t be as easy as it would with a comb, no matter how dense or loose the bristles are. If there are strands you can’t pick up, try using a toothpick to pry them loose.

What you want to avoid is submerging the brush in water or picking out hair under running water. That’ll make things way harder. You’ll also want to avoid using Q-tips. They may seem like the better choice but they’ll leave a whole lot behind.

How to prevent piles of strands from forming? – If you do have a hair brush with fabric at the core you might want to avoid brushing your hair while it’s still wet. Either that or don’t forget to remove the leftover strands as soon as you’re done brushing.

Dandruff and Shampoo Leftovers

If you’re undergoing treatment for dandruff or you’re experiencing problems with your current shampoo, chances are your brush is messy all the time. Particularly if it has fabric between the bristles.

After you’re done picking up leftover strands of hair, make yourself a cleaning solution. Use warm water and soap or baking soda. Don’t worry too much about measurements. If you use baking soda just make sure it dissolves and for soap make sure you get some bubble action going.

Depending on how hard the bristles are, you might not be able to do this by hand. Get yourself a soft toothbrush and use that to scrub the brush. Once you’re done, don’t forget to also rinse the brush to get all the cleaner out of it.

You can leave it to air dry or you can use a towel if you need to dry it quicker. Just don’t use tissues or toilet paper unless you want it to get crumbs again.


Sometimes you may need to disinfect your brush too. This is usually recommended just once every couple of weeks. If you have hair problems or a skin condition, you should do it every few days.

There are special cleaners for that but let’s save some money. Here are two household products you can use to disinfect brushes and combs.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Almost everyone has this and we bet you do too. Fill up a glass tall enough to hold the entire brush head. When you’re disinfecting, you want it to soak and you don’t want to scrub anything. Use 1:1 vinegar to water and you should be fine.

Only after about 20 minutes or so you can remove the brush and rinse it until the smell is gone. Too bad this simple method doesn’t work on all brushes. Cushioned brushes and wooden brushes can’t be cleaned this way.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol works even better. If you’re using this you don’t have to add water. Just follow the previously mentioned steps. Fill a glass, let the brush soak, and rinse after it’s done.

When using rubbing alcohol, you can leave the brush head in for anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes. If you’re not in a hurry this would be a good time to soak the handle too. Just as long as it’s not wooden.

Another quick tip – Before you disinfect your hair brush, it’s not a bad idea to scrub it clean first. That way there are no crumbs or strands of hair floating in the disinfectant solution.

Special Commercial Cleaner

If you have a wooden or cushioned brush, you might want to get a special cleaner. The same place you bought your brush should have conditioning products too. Just avoid soaking and use gentle scrubbing instead.

What to Avoid

When you’re disinfecting your hair brush, be very careful about how you do it. Most cushioned brushes can’t handle being wet too long. So it’s best to just rub them with a commercial cleaner and some water.

Wooden brushes are also delicate. Avoid soaking them no matter how bad they look. Use a mild cleaner instead and a toothbrush to rub them down.

When you’re rubbing between the bristles, avoid pushing too hard against them. Even flexible bristles can break or pop off if you rub them aggressively.

Avoid using the same brush on wet hair as you do on dry hair. If you have dandruff or other scalp issues, you might end up having to clean your brush two or three times a day. Having a spare for clean hair is always a good idea.

Avoid brushing your hair straight after a bath. If you don’t use a towel to really get in there and remove all the leftover crumbs, then everything on your scalp will stick to your brush.

Final Thought

Although brushes are relatively easy to clean, the conditioning might take up too much time. A plastic comb is far easier and quicker to clean. It’s also easy to disinfect as you don’t have to worry about causing structural damage.