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How to Clean Makeup Brushes + My DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner

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I know you know you should clean your makeup brushes on a regular basis.  I’ll spare you the first rule of makeup 101, but I’m here to make it easier! I’ve come up with a DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner that will make cleaning your brushes, quick, easy and thorough. With this recipe, you won’t believe what you’ll get out of your brushes!

DIY Makeup Brush Cleanser

First off, I want to give credit where credit is due-I took heavily from Live Simply’s makeup brush cleaner recipe. It’s just the best and the only way I improved on it was by adding rubbing alcohol and essential oils! She’s got a fabulously insightful blog, btw.

SERIOUS yuckies can hide out in your makeup brushes.  Did you know dirty brushes can have a plethora of bacteria, dirt, dead skin cells, makeup build up and sebum? Gross. Not to mention what dirty makeup tools and brushes can do to the health of your skin! The good news is, by making this simple, natural makeup brush cleaner, you can clean your brushes easily on a more regular basis. 

Here we are, fighting the war against wrinkles and adult acne and we are rubbing bacteria, dirt and sebum all over are face daily with our dirty makeup brushes.  Really pretty counterproductive. Dirty makeup brushes are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria which is why it’s a good idea to get in the habit of cleaning brushes regularly. Especially if you’re using them on a daily basis. 

Plus, quality makeup brushes can get really expensive-investing in the right brushes can make all the difference in how your makeup looks.  So once you drop some cash on your brushes, it only makes sense to take care of them so they will last longer.

So, let’s get down and dirty and whip up your own makeup brush cleaner and wash those brushes weekly-your skin will thank you.

You’ve probably seen some gimmicky makeup brush cleansers. Don’t waste your money.  We can make our own diy makeup brush cleaner in minutes that will be just as deep cleaning as anything you buy at a store. Plus, this recipe contains only safe, natural ingredients and will keep your brushes in good condition. 

This simple recipe could not be cheaper or easier to make and the ingredients can be used on lots of other DIYs. 

Possible Issues from Dirty Makeup Brushes:

  • Skin irritation
  • Skin infections
  • Breakouts
  • Blackheads/Whiteheads
  • Eye Infections
  • Uneven makeup applications
  • Sensitive skin

DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner

What You’ll Need to Make DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner:

  1. Castile Soap*
  2. Distilled Water
  3. Witch Hazel**
  4. Olive Oil
  5. Rubbing Alcohol
  6. Essential Oils (optional)
  7. Medium Sized Jar
  8. Airtight 12 oz. Glass Bottle
  9. Dry towel or paper towel

*Use castile soap in my Foaming Face Wash recipeDIY Cleansing WipesFruit & Veggie Wash & Spray and DIY Body Wash.

**Use witch hazel in my Hydrating Rose SpritzerDIY Toner WipesBlood Orange Hibiscus TonerSpray Deodorant and Hair Growth Spritzer.

DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner

DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner

Yield: 12 ounces
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This recipe is super easy to make and takes no time at all. The idea is to make a decent amount of cleansing solution so that you have it on hand when you are ready to clean your makeup brushes. You simply need to gather the ingredients and add them to a container. When you are ready to clean, pour enough into a jar to submerge the bristles of your brushes and store the rest.  


  • 1 cup Distilled Water
  • 1/2 cup Witch Hazel 
  • 2 tsp. Castile Soap 
  • 1 tsp. Rubbing Alcohol 
  • 1 tsp. Olive Oil 
  • 10 drops Essential Oils **optional*


  • Medium Sized Jar
  • Airtight 12 oz. Glass Bottle
  • Dry towel or paper towel


    1. Add all ingredients into at least a 12 ounce glass container. I found mine at Ikea but you can find them on Amazon as well. Glass jars work just fine!
    2. Be sure to store your makeup cleanser in the fridge so it doesn’t grow bacteria and defeat it’s purpose!

    DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner


  • You don’t have to use olive oil. Any nourishing oil will work except coconut oil since it is solid. I listed olive oil because most everyone has some. 
  • I use a few drops of tea tree oil and lemon essential oil for extra cleansing and anti bacterial action! You don’t have to use any essential oils though. It is not vital to the cleansing effectiveness of this DIY. Citrus oil are great for cleansing. 
  • I like to keep castile soap on hand because I use it often when I refill our hand soap pump bottles but if you don't have it, you can use dish soap instead. 

Did you make this product?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Facebook

How to Clean Makeup Brushes:

  1. Pour DIY brush cleaner into a glass jar. I pour enough to make it about a couple inches deep. You want enough cleaner so that all the brush hair is submerged.
  2. Add 1 or all of your brushes and swirl them around in a circular motion to help the cleanser thoroughly reach all the brush hairs. *Doing one brush at a time is not necessary but it definitely is more thorough. Leave brushes in the cleaning solution for 5 minutes. 
  3. Rinse each brush in the sink with hot water and wring out the excess water.
  4. Lay brushes on a clean towel and allow to dry over night. 

How to Clean Makeup Brushes

>>Always dry your brushes flat or tilted slighting downward.  You don’t want wetness to rest at the base of the bristles.  This could loosen the glue and cause hairs to fall out.  <<

I recommend storing the left over cleaning solution in the fridge to keep the shelf life a bit more stable. We don’t want our cleansing solution to grow bacteria since that would really defeat the purpose of cleaning makeup brushes! 

Don’t Forget to Clean Your Beauty Sponges! 

You can use this DIY makeup brush cleaner on makeup sponges as well! I find it’s best to soak sponges in a small bowl with the DIY brush cleaner for about 5 minutes before you attempt to clean them. Once they’ve soaked, massage them thoroughly then rinse with warm water. Repeat if necessary.

DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner

DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner

I much prefer this DIY makeup brush cleaner over mixing up a solution each time you want to wash your brushes because each of these ingredients contribute to thoroughly cleansing your brushes and pulling out 4+ ingredients each time is a recipe for procrastination! Washing makeup brushes is one of those things that is too easy to put off for another day! 

Why Not Just Use Soap and Water?

You can and I have many times but I promise, this recipe is so much more effective. Not to mention, I believe it works faster and leaves your brushes smelling so good! When it comes to your skin, I want the peace of mind that I am not smearing bacteria all over my skin. 

The first time I used this homemade makeup brush cleaner I knew I had a winner. My brushes got cleaner then they’d ever been and with less effort than my previous brush cleaning methods. The gunk and yuck that came out of my brushes was crazy! I should’ve done this months ago!

This DIY makeup brush cleaner works like a charm. As you can see from my pictures, my light pink bristled brushes are brand new looking after a cleaning! I wish I had taken before pictures because you won’t believe how well this cleaning solution works! I’ve never had such clean brushes that weren’t brand new!

xx, Jenni


DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner

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Jennifer Phillips

Jennifer Phillips

Jennifer Phillips worked as a licensed aesthetician for over 8 years before creating the green beauty blog, Jenni Raincloud and her natural skin care line, J. Raincloud Organics. Jennifer has been blogging full time for 9 years and loves to gain and share knowledge on how to achieve beautiful skin the natural way.

5 thoughts on “How to Clean Makeup Brushes + My DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner”

  1. Great post! I bought an extra of my favorite brush so I always have one to use when one is being washed. Love the idea of the spray…will definitely try that, especially since I already have everything on hand. One question Imhave about washing brushes…any concern that the really hot water could loosen the glue?

  2. Your explanation of the importance of cleaning my brushes motivates me to do it more frequently. I love the idea of having the solution pre-made; it is handy and quick to use. Thanks!

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