How to Make a DIY Makeup Brush Cleanser

Updated on November 22, 2019
Suzie HQ profile image

I have worked as a beauty therapist, a freelance makeup artist, and a retail store manager for a fashion, beauty, and crafts store.

These DIY brush cleansers will save you time and money.
These DIY brush cleansers will save you time and money. | Source

Why Use Makeup Brushes?

Makeup Brushes have been the tools of my trade since 1984 as a professional makeup artist. As such, I have learnt how to look after them and treat them with the respect they so richly deserve.

After all, without them I would not have had the opportunities to work within an industry I adore. Makeup Brushes are essential to create the painting on the blank canvas and should be part of every makeup bag whatever the size.

Like the great Artists, the right brushes are needed in order to achieve a flawless makeup application. Using the sponge applicators or fingers will end up using more product, be very unhygienic, spread germs, and will cost you more in the end.

One brush or thirty brushes, regular cleaning is still an important discipline and routine to get into and adhere to for all makeup lovers.

My Makeup Brushes
My Makeup Brushes | Source

Makeup Brush Sets -

EcoTools 6 Piece Starter Set, Includes: Powder/Blush, Concealer, Full Shadow, Spoolie and Angled Liner Brushes, with Cosmetic Bag, Cruelty Free
EcoTools 6 Piece Starter Set, Includes: Powder/Blush, Concealer, Full Shadow, Spoolie and Angled Liner Brushes, with Cosmetic Bag, Cruelty Free
Set Includes: Blush Brush, Eye Shading Brush, Angled Eyeliner Brush, Concealer Brush, Lash & Brow Groomer, and a Hemp & Cotton Case with separate compartment for cosmetics and Brushes. Synthetic Taklon britles are 100% cruelty free Sleek ferrule is made from recycled aluminum Cosmetic brush roll is made from natural cotton and hemp Reusable storage pouch

Why Should Makeup Brushes Be Cleaned?

Makeup Brushes do not need to be expensive or extensive in numbers. What they do need to be is cleaned with a cleanser solution and washed regularly, if used frequently.

Clean Makeup Brushes will not only last and save you money in the long term, they are also essential for hygienic reasons.

My pride and joy was a large powder brush I bought at Beauty Therapy College in 1984 for the sum of £3 (Irish pound). That brush stayed with me, travelled the world and worked on a celebrity or two for over 25 years, because I looked after it.

Reasons to Clean:

  1. Build up of dead skin cells.
  2. Grime, Germs and Dust must be removed.
  3. Stale makeup in the form of Oils, Creams, Powders and Lotions are all mixed onto the bristles which must be washed off or will be transferred in your next application.
  4. The hairs or bristles of the brushes need careful washing to get the maximum life out of them.
  5. To sterilize brushes keeps them hygienic.

Save Money on Cleaning Makeup Brushes

There are a vast amount of cleanser solutions or brush cleaners out there on the market and I have used many different ones over the years in every price bracket. In these times of cutting back and being more frugal with our spending, I have tried a number of less expensive solutions for cleaning my brushes.


Cutting down does not have to mean cutting out. By applying some basic DIY knowledge, homemade cleanser solutions are just as effective as the store bought options. By using items generally found in the home or are bought at a fraction of the cost of branded brush cleansers, I have put together my top DIY cleanser solutions that may be used on Makeup brushes.

Handmade soap
Handmade soap | Source

Homemade Brush Cleanser Ideas

Here are my suggestions for DIY Cleanser solutions:

No. 1

  • ½ cup Warm Water
  • ¼ cup Vinegar

No. 2

  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 2 tbsp Rubbing Alcohol (Surgical Spirit, Tea Tree Oil or Witch Hazel)
  • 1 tbsp Baby Shampoo (Johnston’s)

No. 3

  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 1 tbsp Baby Shampoo (Johnston’s)

No. 4

  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 1 tbsp Liquid Dish Detergent (Fairy Liquid)

No. 5

  • ¼ cup Warm Water
  • 1 tbsp Woolite

No. 6

  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 1 tbsp Baby Shampoo
  • ½ tsp Tea Tree Oil

No. 7

  • 2 cups Water
  • 2 tbsp Rubbing Alcohol (Surgical Spirits, Witch Hazel OR Tea Tree Oil)
  • 2 tbsp Conditioning Shampoo
  • 1 tsp Liquid Dish Detergent (Fairy Liquid or an antibacterial dish soap works great if acne or spot prone)

No. 8

  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil (Pure or Extra Virgin)
  • 2 tbsp Baby Shampoo


The three ways I have cleaned brushes are either in a bowl, using a spray bottle or on a side plate. By trying a few different methods you will find what works best for you as It will also depend on how many brushes you need to clean. I find the spray bottle is handy for quick fixes on a daily basis.

For numbers 1–7 place all ingredients into a bowl and give a gentle stir to mix. Swirl your brushes in the bowl, being careful not to submerge the hairs up to where they are attached. If water or liquid gets in here the hairs will end up falling out. When clean, give a rinse gently. I usually give a light press of the brush hairs in a paper towel before setting down flat on a towel or over the edge of a work top counter, shelf or dressing table.

For number 8, pour the ingredients onto a clean plate as shown in the video, and give your brush a swirl before rinsing carefully.


Size matters. Big Powder brushes will take the longest to dry (can take a couple of days to dry naturally) whereas a small eyeliner, lip or shadow brush will be dry in a few hours.

Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil | Source
Olive Oil
Olive Oil | Source

Homemade Cleanser Solutions

(click column header to sort results)
Reason to Use  
needed to react with many of the chosen products to clean brushes.
Tea Tree Oil
antiseptic, kills germs.
Witch Hazel
astringent and antiseptic properties, kills germs.
Surgical Spirit
alcohol, antiseptic, healing and kills germs.
fabric softener, softens and cleans gently.
Baby Shampoo
mild but thorough cleanser.
Olive Oil
softens and conditions hairs on brushes.
Liquid Dish Washer
cleans and lifts all oil particle build up.
removes all grime by loosening all impurities.
Conditioning Shampoo
a cleanser that will remove all build up of stale makeup effectively.
disinfectant properties that cleans thoroughly, may leave a slight odour initially.

The Best Advice on The Internet for DIY Brush Cleaning!

Do you currently use store bought or do you have a go at homemade brush cleaners?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

How to Make DIY Brush Cleanser Solution Comments

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    • Akoria Ofega profile image

      Akoria Ofega 

      4 years ago from Nigeria

      The way you discussed about makeup brush handling is tremendous. I don't think I need to hear any more. Off I am to wash my brushes. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

    • Nicole S profile image

      Nicole S Hanson 

      6 years ago from Minnesota

      Awesome tips. I'm ashamed to say that I don't wash my brushes enough. Maybe once every couple months. But I think I will do it more now!

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi kiverson,

      Delighted you enjoyed and found some good ideas to try. I know from using bought ones for years, they can be seriously costly. Tea tree oil has great disinfectant / antibacterial qualities which are important for brushes. Thanks for commenting and Enjoy!

    • kiverson profile image

      Kelly Iverson 

      7 years ago

      Wow this really helped me! I have spent soooo much money on brush cleansers it's crazy. I had no idea that tea tree oil can be used for this! Thank you for that all natural tip!

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Akarime31,

      Thanks so much for commenting! I know the feeling, forking out on good brands is costly so if there is a way to cut down but not cut out I'm all for it! Being a makeup lover certain things are not so easy to let go of but this was definitely one of the ways!! Appreciate your input! :-)

    • Akarime31 profile image


      7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Very useful hub, I usually spend money on that Mac brush cleaner but now I'm going to make my own. I like the water and vinegar one, I use vinegar as a house hold cleaner.

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi vespa!

      I always smile when I see you chilling on the bench! Thanks so much for reading this, tea tree oil is one I love but if it comes in tiny bottles it may end up expensive to use. It's one of those must have items that has so many benefits. Thanks for the input and support! :-)

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi TattooKitty,

      Love the enthusiasm, you are very welcome!! Delighted you found the timing spot on since you are running out, do give them a go! Your wallet and brushes will thank you!! Appreciate the lovely comments and votes!! :-)

    • vespawoolf profile image

      Vespa Woolf 

      7 years ago from Peru, South America

      I've always used shampoo to clean my brushes but never thought to add tea tree oil to kill bacteria. I also think woolite sounds like a great idea. Thanks for sharing your life's experience with us, Suzie!

    • TattooKitty profile image


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for showing me some cost-effective alternatives to my usual name-brand brush cleanser. I'm actually running out and was getting ready to buy more...I'm so glad I won't have to demolish my wallet to get those make-up brushes clean! Voted up, awesome, & useful!

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi everythingdazzles,

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Glad yo hear you have success at similar DIY for the brushes!

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Sinea Pies!

      Small world, I worked for Revlon for 3 years! Cooking oil I must remember but I generally don't have any as I use Olive oil for most of my cooking. Appreciate your comments and for the tip! :-)

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Jamie!

      Thanks so much for visiting! I'm such a fan of your hubs, glad you enjoyed and yes many of these ingredients are great for other things eg vinegar is a brilliant disinfectant/ cleaner round the house, witch hazel I use as a facial toner/astringent great for combination skin and fairy liquid if your stuck as shower gel . . . all have uses! Thanks for the votes and pin! :-)

    • everythingdazzles profile image


      7 years ago from Houston

      I make a version of this myself. Works wonders. Good hub.

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 

      7 years ago from Northeastern United States

      Great tips! A friend of mine use to work for Revlon corporate, many years ago. She gave me a tip on removing eye makeup. She told me to save my money and simply use cooking oil. Rub it on, wipe it off, wash face. Works great.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for these make-up brush cleaner recipes.. :) Going to bookmark this one for sure! I'll bet you can use these to clean LOTS of things besides just brushes :) Very useful, voting up and pinning!

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      LOL, my 2 Bill's are definitely secret makeup wearer's I think! Appreciate you reading when it is not really your cup of tea! Hopefully your wife will find useful. Thanks very much my friend for the constant support, it is very much appreciated as always Bill!! :-)

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Kimberly,

      What a nice compliment, thanks so much! Do give some of these a go as they do work depending on how much of a clean your brushes need. I included different ingredients to show what household items people may have at any given time. Appreciate your comments as always and votes!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Suzie. Imagine, a Hub on makeup and the two Bill's are here to comment. Yes, we think highly of you and your writing so that's what we do, support each other.

      I'm sure my wife can put this info to good use. Great job.

    • Kimberly Vaughn profile image

      Kimberly Vaughn 

      7 years ago from Midwest


      I was hopping some hubs and saw this beautifully formatted hub. I immediately thought "That looks like a Suzie HQ hub." I went to see who the author was and sure enough it was you!

      Great topic! I rarely wear makeup but I do have a few make up brushes that I never thought about cleaning. I am definitely going to use your advice. Voted up!

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Oh Bill,

      LOL, you are the ultimate follower! No interest in makeup and here you are! Delighted you "enjoyed", you never know when the urge may hit you to wear a bit of blush or lippy, maybe for a fancy dress? You will be prepared like a good boy scout should be and have some cheap and cheerful ways of cleaning your tools!! Appreciate your support and encouragement my good buddy!! :-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is a sure sign that someone follows you because they like you and respect you.....there is no way I'm interested in makeup brushes, but my friend Suzanne wrote about them, so here I am.

      I do like this because it is eco-friendly, and I do like this because you wrote it. Well done my dear.

      wishing you peace and happiness, today and always



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