How To Clean A Hairbrush: The Best 3 Ways

To have healthy and clean hair, it is important to keep the hairbrush healthy and clean as well. In this given article, we talk about how to clean a hairbrush in simple and easy ways that do not require much effort!

We tend to skip that part due to our laziness and do not realize how important it is to clean our hairbrush. Cleaning a hairbrush will make it last longer and save money and effort from getting a new one now and then.

1. Why Should We Clean Our Hairbrushes

how to clean a hairbrush
Image by Debbie Miller from Pixabay

Before starting with the ‘How to clean a hairbrush?’, let’s begin with a ‘Why to clean a hairbrush?’. Why is it necessary to have clean hair brushes1? Let’s look at some of the reasons to do so. Keeping our hairbrush clean will avoid the following problems:

1.1. Damage the Scalp

A dirty plastic brush will not only damage the quality of our hair but will also yield damage to our scalp. Over time, germs and bacteria will build up on our hair brushes and their bristles. This harmful residue gets transferred to the scalp, making our scalp itchy and flaky. This is one of the reasons that may lead to scalp irritation and dandruff.

It is not only the germs that cause a disadvantage, but also the previous faller hair. The germs and hair get stuck in the hairbrush bristles causing tangles and hair fall.
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Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

A dirty plastic brush can become a breeding ground for bacteria, dust, germs, and yeast! Why would anyone ever want that?

That is why cleaning our hairbrush is a must for healthy hair growth and also for just general hygiene. Remember, dirty hair brushes = dirty hair & clean hair brushes = clean hair.

1.2. Bacteria Build-up Due to Dead Skin

When we use a hairbrush for a while without cleaning it, it leaves a black-grey residue on the brush bristles. Have you ever wondered, ‘what is that?’.

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Image by Hans from Pixabay

Let me answer that question for you. On the brush bristles, you are looking at the tiny colonies formed due to bacteria buildup. This may happen due to a collection of lingering hair products and dead skin cells. Now, imagine these dirty bristles coming in contact with your scalp. Ew!

When we brush our hair, this toxic buildup may pass onto our hair, making it look greasy and lifeless. It can even cause hair fall and itchiness on the scalp, leading us to visit expensive salons and buy expensive products.

So, instead of spending loads of money trying to fix our hair why not just clean our hair brushes?

1.3. Skin Irritation and Bad Odour

Particles in the environment, like e dust and mist, can settle on our hair brushes and build up over time.  This leads to the growth of bacteria, and bacteria love moisture! Due to these particles and bacteria build-up on our hairbrushes, we can face problems like skin irritation and bad odor. This is especially the case when we use oil and sticky hair creams/masks.

As a result, we feel itchiness, irritation, and foul odor from our hair and scalp. To avoid this, one should clean their hairbrushes regularly.

1.4. Ruin the Growth of Our Natural Hair

Everyone uses a hair brush every day to keep their hair tangle-free. However, a lot of people also make it a habit to cut their hair or at least get a trim regularly. They do this because it keeps their hair healthy and avoids issues like split ends.

Dirty hair brushes, however, restrict the natural growth of our hair and ruin its texture. We come across problems like split ends, and dandruff that slow down hair growth. To avoid these concerns, you should always have clean hair brushes.

1.5. How Often Should One Clean Their Hairbrush

How Often Do You Clean Your Hairbrush? | This Morning

Relax! You don’t have to clean your hair brush every day. Let’s have a look at the points stated below to understand when to clean your hair brush.

  • For a person who takes minimal care of their hair and doesn’t use a lot of hair products, the deadline for having a clean hair brush is about two weeks. If you have long hair, limit it to one week!
  • If you use hair products like hair gels, styling creams, hair spray, or hair straighteners, you are advised to clean your hair brush every week.
  • If you don’t use hair creams or masks frequently, cleaning the hairbrush every 2-3 weeks will do.

Taking some time out to clean your hair brush will make you notice great changes in your hair over time.

2. How To Clean A Hairbrush

2.1. Deep Cleaning Your Hairbrush With Gentle Shampoo

2.1.1. Things You Will Need

  • Hairbrush
  • Clean old toothbrush
  • Gentle Shampoo or dish soap to make soapy water
  • Bowl with warm water, or use the bathroom sink or a small tub
  • Clean towel/ paper towel/ dryer sheets
  • Scissors
  • Rat Tail comb (optional)
How to clean a hairbrush
Source: By Taylor Beach / Unsplash

2.1.2. Steps To Follow

  • Step 1: Get all Loose Hair Out of the Hair Brush

Whether or not you’re using a paddle brush, the first step is to remove all the hair from the natural bristle brush or at least as much hair as possible. You can use a rat tail comb to eliminate as much hair as you can from the base of the brush. A normal comb or pointed object like a pen or pencil will work if you don’t have one. Here’s how to do it with ease:

  1. Lift as much hair as possible from the brush’s bristles with the help of a rat tail comb’s end or a pencil/pen, and grab as much hair as you can.
  2. Use a comb to get between the bristles and lift all the hair.
  3. Cut the tangled hair which is hard to remove from the hair brushes using scissors.
  • Step 2: Fill the Sink with Warm Water and Add a Little Amount of Shampoo to it

Fill a container with warm water and add a few drops of shampoo or dish soap to the bowl. Now, shake it with your hand until the water looks soapy. Soak the brush in soapy water for some time.

  • Plastic/Metal brush – Soak this hair brush for about 3-4 minutes in the bowl with warm water.
  • Brush with soft/fabric padding at the base – Do not dunk the padding of the brush, i.e., the brush head, in warm water. Just dip the bristles of the brush and shake it a few times.
  • Wooden brush/wooden handled brush/ brush with a wooden base – Ensure not to douse the brush entirely, at least not the wooden handle. Doing that will just degrade the wood over time. Follow the same procedure as above in this case too.
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Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay
  • Step 3: Air Dry your Hairbrush

Now, you must wipe your hairbrush with a dry, clean towel and jerk it over the sink to remove the water. To do it properly, use the following ways, depending on the type of brush you use:

  • Plastic/ metal brush – Place the brush with its bristles facing down. On a clean towel or cloth, and all of the air dry.
  • Brush with soft/fabric padding at the base – You can use the same way as above and let it air dry, but using a hairdryer is better.
  • A wooden brush or brush has a wooden handle or base – Jerk it to get rid of excess water and keep it overnight to air dry, or opt to use a hairdryer.

If you use a paddle brush, keep the material of the paddle in mind. You don’t need to dry off your hairbrush completely. Doing it moderately will also work. If your brush is completely clean after this step, Kudos to you! But if the brush is still not completely dry, don’t let that disappoint you, as it may take some tries. Simply move on to the next step.

  • Step 4: Use a Toothbrush to Remove the Residual Dirt

After you get as much hair as possible out of the bristles of your flat or round brush, deep clean it by emitting out the remaining product residue, dust particles, gunk, and dirt using an old clean toothbrush; doing so will also remove the scalp oils remaining on the hairbrush. Use need to do it gently to avoid damaging or breaking the bristles.

After the residual dirt has been removed, your hairbrush will begin to look a lot cleaner!

  • Step 5: Rinse the Brushes With Running Water to Remove the Shampoo

Thorough cleaning of your hairbrush is required under running water to remove the shampoo from the hairbrush’s bristles. You have to rinse it thoroughly until there is no shampoo or conditioner residue on the bristles.

If this step is skipped, you will need to clean your hairbrush with more effort than before, as it will become greasier every time you avoid this step. Running underwater will also rinse the bristles’ remaining dirt or leftover hair.

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Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay
  • Step 6: Air Dry off the Hairbrush Completely

Use the same ways as explained in Step 3. Either let it air dry overnight or use a hairdryer to speed up the process.

Once you have gone through the process, you will be left with a sparkly clean hair brush! It may take around 15 minutes to do this, but it will eventually remove the need to clean it for longer once you get into a habit.

2.2. Disinfecting With Vinegar

Effective Way to Clean Hair Brushes at home with Vinegar | House Keeper

Cleaning your hairbrush with vinegar is not as ridiculous as it may sound. Instead, it may be the best way to do it! Vinegar has multiple properties when it comes to cleaning. Vinegar is known to contain natural antiseptic agents that work as a cheap cleaning solution. Vinegar will help kill germs and bacteria and remove sticky residue from using different hair products. Here’s the process to follow:

2.2.1. Things You Need

  • Hairbrush
  • Clean old toothbrush
  • White vinegar
  • Bowl with warm water, or use the bathroom sink or a small tub
  • Clean towel/ paper towel/ dryer sheets
  • Scissors
  • Rat Tail comb (optional)

2.2.2. Steps To Follow

  • Remove hair from the brush using the same instructions as in method 1.
  • Pour 2 cups of hot water and 2 cups of white vinegar into a large bowl.
  • The water should be hot and not just warm. A high water temperature is necessary to kill bacteria and germs.
  • Soak the brush from the bristle side into this solution. Dip it enough to rinse the dust and dirt that has accumulated.
  • Take the hairbrush out of the solution after some time. Remove the water, dirt, and dust using a tissue.
  • Use a toothbrush to further deep clean it. Do it gently so as not to harm the bristles.
  • Put the brush under running water to remove the vinegar’s smell.

2.3. Cleaning With Baking Soda

How to clean a hairbrush
Source: By Kaboompics .com / Pexels

Baking soda has the properties of natural deodorant and a scrub. It works just as magically on hair brushes too! Let’s see how to achieve good cleaning using baking soda:

2.3.1. Things You Will Need

  • Hairbrush
  • Clean old toothbrush
  • Baking Soda
  • Bowl with warm water, or use the bathroom sink or a small tub
  • Clean towel/ paper towel/ dryer sheets
  • Scissors
  • Rat Tail comb (optional)

2.3.2. Steps To Follow

  • Remove hair as stated in Method 1.
  • Make a solution with a bowl of warm water and one teaspoon of baking soda. You can also add a combination of clarifying shampoo and soda.
  • Use a clean toothbrush to mix the solution.
  • Submerge the toothbrush in the solution and scrub on the bristles.
  • Now, rinse the brush under running tap water.
  • Lastly, lay the brush on a dry towel to air dry or use a hairdryer. The rinse and dry are now complete.

3. Time To Replace Your Hairbrush

Every 6 to 12 months! Although, it also depends on factors like what styling products you use daily and the hairbrushes’ quality if you use a plastic or wooden brush. Replace it within 8 to 12 months if you make minimum sanitization efforts. However, if you use a boar bristle, it should be replaced every 6 months.

You can often see clues like missing/broken bristles and the brush being too dirty to clean. All of these are indicators that the hairbrush is to be changed.

To extend this lifespan, it is advisable to remove the hair from the bristles each time you use it and do a thorough cleaning once a week by using any of the above methods. You can also use two brushes, one for fresh, clean hair and one for hair with the product.

4. Do-Nots While Cleaning Hairbrushes 

Lookout for these 5 mistakes when you clean your hairbrushes:

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Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash
  • Do not Skip Cleaning your Hairbrushes Regularly

At least after every 2 weeks, you must clean your hairbrushes, this will not only keep your hair healthy but will also make the hairbrush look clean. People using a lot of hair products like hair oil, hair mask, etc. must clean their hairbrushes more often. 

  • Do Not Soak a Wooden Hairbrush

If you soak a wooden-handled hairbrush, it might cause the wood to split and the bristles to loosen. This will damage your hairbrush. 

  • Do Not Use High Temperatures

Washing your hairbrushes in hot water and using excessive heat to dry them will damage your hairbrushes. Synthetic bristles can even melt in high temperatures!

  • Do Not Sanitize the Natural Bristles with Alcohol

Alcohol can dry out the natural oil present in the boar bristles, thus avoid sanitizing the natural bristles with alcohol. 

  • Do Not Ignore the Handle of the Hairbrush

We often forget to clean the handle of the hairbrush, but do you know the handle is prone to all bacteria while you touch it with your hand? So, do clean the handle of the hairbrush as well while cleaning the hairbrush itself. 

5. Advantages Of Cleaning Hairbrushes

We must make an effort to clean our hairbrushes regularly to gain these advantages:

  • A Step Towards Healthy and Beautiful Hair

Using a clean hairbrush is the right step toward achieving healthy and pleasant-looking hair. 

  • Protecting the Hair and Scalp from Bacteria and Infections

Dirty hairbrushes are a source of bacterial growth2. When these hairbrushes come in contact with our hair and scalp it gets a new breeding ground, thereby causing infections. Thus, with clean hairbrushes, you can avoid such bacterial growth and infections. 

  • Avoid being Contacted with Other Scalp Infections

We often share hairbrushes in a household, or your guests might use your hairbrush while brushing their hair. What if they have bacterial or fungal scalp infection? So, the best way to avoid this will be to clean your hairbrush before using it. 

  • Maintaining your Newly-Cleaned Hair

We do clean our hair on a regular basis with shampoos, conditioners, and masks. But after cleaning our hair with all these products and using a dirty brush to brush and style our hair, what is the point in cleaning our hair in the first place? So, to maintain our newly-cleaned hair one must clean their hairbrushes on a regular basis. 

6. Cleaning Hairbrush – A Must-Try Hack

In this busy schedule, where each minute is precious, we tend to avoid cleaning our hairbrushes as it takes time and energy. What if there is a hack where you do not have to spend much time and save your energy? 

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Photo by Jacob Johnson on Unsplash

Follow these hacking steps to clean your hairbrush:

  • Add warm water to a container. 
  • In it, pump drops of your regular shampoo
  • Mix the solution.
  • Put the brush bristle-side down.
  • Set a timer for sixty minutes. 
  • After sixty minutes, turn over the brush and you will find the hair knots to loosen.
  • With a toothpick, pull out the hair with one swoop! 
  • Rinse the hairbrush under the running water. 
  • Voila, you get a clean hairbrush!

7. Conclusion

After reading this article, we not only know how to clean a hairbrush but we also know ‘why to clean a hairbrush’ and ‘when to clean a hairbrush’. Cleaning our hairbrushes is considered a basic self-hygiene that we all must follow. We have shared 3 methods and a hack on how can we clean our hairbrushes.

There is no better match than a clean hairbrush for healthy and freshly washed hair.

Hope this article will help the next time you clean your hairbrushes!


1. Do I have to clean my hairbrush every time I use it?

Ans. No. Let’s not overdo this, as cleaning the hairbrush after every use might loosen and damage the hair bristles. 

So, you can clean your hairbrushes every one to two weeks. But, if you have used any product like hair oil, hair color, or hair mask and brushed your hair with the hairbrush to spread it equally, then you must clean your hairbrush after every such use. Else, it will only get messy for you. 

2. How can I clean my paddle brush?

Ans. You can clean your paddle hairbrush, by the following steps:

  1. Take a pen or pencil and start collecting the hair tangled on your paddle brush. 
  2. After removing all the hair, take a big bowl of water and soak the bristles of your paddle hairbrush. 
  3. Let it sit there for a few minutes. 
  4. Then, remove the water and dry it off.

3. Can I get an infection from a hairbrush?

Ans. Yes, you might get infected by using a hairbrush. Thus, it is always recommended never to share hairbrushes with others.

Read more

  1. van Velzen, Bas. “Cleaning and Maintaining Brushes.” Journal of Paper Conservation 16.2 (2015): 76-77. ↩︎
  2. Fonte, Ellen S., et al. “The combination of different carbon sources enhances bacterial growth efficiency in aquatic ecosystems.” Microbial ecology 66 (2013): 871-878. ↩︎

Last Updated on by ayeshayusuf


Komal Rajani

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