How To Clean Your Hair Brush – The Complete Guide

by Annie Jangam

Would you brush your teeth without rinsing your toothbrush? Or eat on a dirty plate? Never, right? The same goes for your hair brush. You may have elaborate hair care routines and pamper your hair with luxurious treatments, but it is all in vain if you are using a dirty hair brush.

Hair brushes collect dirt, hair strands, excess oil, and product residue. If not cleaned properly, they become a breeding ground for germs. Thus, it is essential to clean your hair brushes properly to keep your hair and scalp healthy and germ-free. This article explains the right way to clean your hair brush. Scroll down to know more.

Why Should You Clean Your Hair Brush?

The major reason to clean your hair brush regularly is to stay healthy and hygienic. Unclean hair brushes are filled with dirt, natural oils, sweat, dead skin cells, product buildup (leave-in conditioners, gels, and hairsprays), microbes (yeast, bacteria, dust mites, and lice), and hair strands.

Hair brushes become breeding grounds for microbes like bacteria and fungi (yeast) if we do not clean them properly. They transfer grime and germs to your hair, compromising hair and scalp health. This also results in swelling, itching, and dandruff and may lead to folliculitis and seborrheic dermatitis.

Also, the hair brush will not be effective in detangling and brushing your hair. The process of brushing might get painful, leading to hair breakage.

Now that you know how important it is to clean hair brushes, let us move on to the next section for more details about the process.

How To Clean A Hair Brush

1. Remove The Hair 

You stroke the hair sideways or vertically while brushing, which means matted hair or foreign matter will get logged in the brush horizontally. Thus, the most important step is to remove all the hair tangled from the brush or comb.

Try to prong out the hair with a toothbrush, toothpick, chopstick, pen, or even the end of a rat-tail comb. A hair pick is best for cleaning wide-spaced, ball-tipped bristles.

You may notice that the hair may be knotted within the bristles. Use scissors to cut the hair stuck between the bristles into smaller pieces. This will not only make hair removal easy but also protect the bristles from separating or getting damaged. You can turn the brush bristle side down and use a toothbrush to clean lint, dust particles, and grime.

Note: You can use any narrow, sharp-edged item that fits between the bristles of the hair brush.

2. Wash The Brush

You Will Need

  • A large bowl
  • Warm water
  • Clarifying shampoo or baking soda
  • An old toothbrush, towel, or napkins 

Steps

  • Add shampoo (dime size or approximately 10 ml) to a bowl of warm water. You can also use your sink instead of a bowl.
  • Mix thoroughly to form lukewarm sudsy water. Soak the unclean hair brushes and combs in the warm, soapy water. Depending on the type of hair brush, the soaking duration and cleaning solution will vary.
  • Swish the hair brush around the bowl to remove debris.
  • Scrub between the bristles gently with a toothbrush. You can also massage the bristle tips with your palms.
  • Rinse the bristles thoroughly with warm water.
  • Remove excess moisture by patting it dry with a towel or napkin. 

Note: Do not soak the hair brushes for a long time or use harsh detergents as the glue that holds the bristles might melt.

3. Dry The Brush

This is an important step to ensure no moisture is left on the hair brush. A moist and damp environment might cause microbial growth. The hair brush will also smell damp and musty if it is not dry completely. In the case of wooden hair brushes, water also increases the risk of wood rotting.

Turn the brush bristle side down on a towel or hang off the edge of the counter. Do not dry hair brushes vertically as it might loosen the bristles.

Can we clean all hair brushes in the same way? Probably not! Simple tweaks will help you clean different types of brushes without damaging them. Scroll down to learn more.

How To Clean Different Types Of Hair Brushes

Type Of BrushMethod
Thermal BrushWipe with a soft fiber cloth. You can also dampen the cloth and wipe the brush with it. Do not soak this type of hair brush in water.
Natural Bristle Brush Soak the brush in a mixture of warm water, clarifying shampoo, and tea tree oil (2 to 3 drops) for not more than 10 minutes.
Nylon Bristle Brush Soak the brush in a solution of warm water and baby shampoo for 15 minutes.
Mixed Bristle BrushSoak the brush in warm soapy or shampoo water for 10 minutes. Use castile soap or baking soda for better results.
Detangling BrushSoak the brush in a mixture of warm water and clarifying shampoo for 10 minutes.
Paddle Brush Soak a plastic paddle brush in warm sudsy or mild shampoo water for 10 minutes. For a wooden paddle brush, dip a toothbrush in the cleaning solution and scrub the bristles.
Wooden Round Brush Pour a mixture of warm water, soap, and tea tree oil (2 to 3 drops) on the bristles. Lay it on a towel to dry. Do not wet the wooden part to prevent damage.
Metal Round Brush Soak the brush in a mixture of lukewarm water, shampoo, and baking soda.
Curved Brush Soak the brush in warm soapy or mild shampoo water for 10 minutes.
Cushion Brush Submerge the brush’s bristles in warm soapy water for 5 minutes to loosen dirt and hair.
Vented Brush Submerge the bristles of the brush in warm soapy water and swish around a few times.
Teasing BrushDip a toothbrush in a warm shampoo solution and scrub the hair brush base.
Rat-tail Brush Soak the brush in a bowl of warm water and baby shampoo for 10 minutes. Use a toothpick or pen to dislodge any hair or debris stuck between the teeth.

On average, cleaning your hair brushes once a week should suffice. However, this depends on various factors. The next section explains what they are.

How Often Should You Clean Your Hair Brush?

  • Excessive Hair Breakage: If you have damaged hair or are experiencing excessive hair fall, chances are your hair brush is always filled with hair. Dry and damaged hair tends to get stuck in the brush easily. This is also observed in people with naturally textured or curly hair.

Note: Remove the hair stuck between the bristles after brushing to prevent the brush from collecting more hair.

  • Overactive Glands: If you have a sweaty or oily scalp, your hair brush will get dirty with gunk, grime, and greasiness frequently. Clean your hair brush at least once a week to get rid of the dirt, dead skin cells, and product residue.
  • Product Buildup: If you use hair styling products, such as styling creams, dry shampoos, gels, hair mousse, or hair sprays, clean your hair brushes and combs every time you wash your hair. This ensures that your clean hair does not get contaminated by the product residues from dirty hair brushes.

Although soap and water are enough to clean your hair brushes, there are other substitutes to keep your hair brushes squeaky clean. Check out the following section.

What Should You Use to Clean Your Hair Tools? 

  • Clarifying Shampoo: This shampoo is specifically formulated to eliminate oily residue and grime from the scalp and will clean hair brushes easily.
  • Liquid Soap: Use castile soap to dissolve the sticky debris from the hair brush. Castile soap is natural and free of chemicals.
  • Baby Shampoo: Baby shampoos are gentle and a great alternative to clean hair tools, such as hair brushes and combs.
  • Baking Soda: Add a tablespoon of baking soda to your shampoo before you clean the hair brushes. It is natural, non-toxic, and an effective home remedy for dirt removal.
  • Disinfectants: Salons and parlors use industrial-strength disinfectants as their hair tools are used extensively. Also, a UV light-based hair brush sanitizing device has been patented recently to get rid of microbes (1).

Are you using your hair brush past its prime? It is recommended to replace your hair brushes every couple of years. We have a checklist to help you know when it is time to buy a new hair brush. Scroll down to know more!

How Do You Know It Is Time To Replace Your Hair Brush?

Check for the following aspects:

  1. Is it missing bristles?
  2. Are the bristles separated?
  3. Are the bristles wobbly?
  4. Is the handle or ferrule loose or wearing?
  5. Is the cushion pad deflated?

If you answer yes to any of the above, go ahead and replace your hair brush.

The Takeaway

Cleaning your hair brushes regularly is a hygienic hair care habit. You can use simple household items to clean your hair brushes instead of fancy hair brush cleaners. Hair brushes also need constant replacement, depending on the wear and tear of the bristles. Follow the steps listed above and make the cleaning process effortless. 

Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions

What is the gray stuff on my hair brush?

The gray or white residue on your hair brush is a mix of leftover product or mineral buildup with dead skin cells and dandruff.

Why is my hair brush full of dust?

When you brush your hair, a few strands and debris accumulate on the hair brush. Other factors, such as hair fall, scalp conditions, and pollution, cause a buildup of dust and dirt on the hair brush.

Why does my hair brush stink?

A stinky hair brush can be an indication of scalp infection and inflammation. Consult a dermatologist if the smell persists even after cleaning your hair brush.

1 sources

Stylecraze has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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Annie Jangam

Annie Jangam is a Molecular Biologist with 7 years of research experience in Rice Functional Genomics and Nutrient Signalling with International Publications in Abiotic stress, Nitrogen, and G-protein signaling. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has been an avid reader since childhood and is passionate about stories that help decipher life and its meaning. She believes in Human Rights for all and that one should "love others like we love ourselves."
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