The Proper Way to Clean a Hairbrush
Because yes, that’s something we all should be doing.
Generally speaking, I consider myself to have good personal hygiene habits: I brush my teeth two or times per day; I wash my bath towels after just a few uses; and after a friend in optometry school threatened me with horror stories a couple of years ago, I’m adamant about never, ever sleeping in my contacts (What can I say? Some good habits took longer to create than others). But the World Wide Web has introduced me to one area where my hygiene habits have been lacking: Turns out, I’m supposed to be cleaning my hairbrush. (Sure, I do a once-monthly rake- through to rid it of stolen, tangled strands, or occasionally run it under hot water, but that’s about it.) Feeling insecure about this apparent oversight, I took a quick, unofficial poll of the office, which made me feel better: Nobody else seems to be deep-cleaning their hairbrushes either.
But we totally should be.
One article I read likened a hairbrush to a sponge. And with thoughts of the sick-kitchen-sponges-that-I-regularly-replace swirling in my head, cleaning my hairbrush suddenly seemed very, very important.
So here’s the proper way to rid your hairbrush of all that built-up product, dirt, and oil so that you’re not mucking up your clean hair with the residue that’s set up residence in your sick-nasty brush. (Anyone else ready to yak yet?)
First things first, you should remove hair strands from your hairbrush every. single. week. For the lazy and pressed-for-time, you can just use your fingers. If you want to do it the proper way, though, use the pointy end of a comb or scissors to free the tangled strands from the bristles. Dispose of the resulting hair ball in the trash can, so as not to clog the drain. Delightful.
Now, here’s where it gets good—the act that separates the men from boys and the women from the girls: washing your hairbrush. This should be done once monthly, so choose a set time each month and stick to it. Maybe you clean your brush the same day that your cell phone bill is due: Life is short; give yourself something to look forward to.
The cleaning process varies depending on what kind of brush you use.
Plastic vented brushes and combs can handle the most maintenance, since they’re pretty sturdy. Soak them in a bowl or sink filled with warm water with a generous squirt of gentle shampoo for about 20 minutes. After your brush has had its bath, use a clean toothbrush to scrub the base to ensure that any lingering ick has been kicked to the curb. Set it on a towel to dry completely before using it again.
Cleaning brushes with squishy bases can be tricky, as water can get trapped inside and lead to far smellier, nastier consequences than the residue you were already leaving behind. Stir up a little solution of warm water and gentle shampoo, dip your clean toothbrush into the mixture, and scrub-a-dub-dub the base of your brush. After the gunk has been removed, rinse off the toothbrush and go back over the base with the clean, wet toothbrush. Towel dry the hairbrush, then place it bristles-down on the towel to fully dry out.
Finally, if you have a wooden brush or brush with natural bristles, you’ll want to wash it once every other month, as they are more delicate. Mix hot water with drops of tea tree oil, then use a clean toothbrush to gently scrub the hairbrush. To rinse off the oil + water solution, sprinkle a little water on the base of the brush and wipe dry with a cloth. Let it finish drying, bristles down, on a towel.
So there you have it: how to clean a hairbrush and also how I’ll be spending my Friday night.
WATCH: How Often Should You Replace Your Hairbrush? The Answer Might Surprise You
We know, we know. We've already dropped one hairbrush bomb on you today, and now we're back with another one. Turns out, even if you are a religious washer and deep-cleaner of your hairbrushes, there will eventually come a time when your most beloved set of bristles will have to be replaced. Here's how often you should be treating yourself to a new hairbrush.