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How to Make a DIY Makeup Brush Cleanser

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.

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.

Cleaning your makeup brushes is important.

Cleaning your makeup brushes is important.

My Makeup Brushes

My Makeup Brushes

Makeup Brush Sets -

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.

Homemade Brush Cleanser Ideas

Here Are My Suggestions for DIY Cleanser Solutions:

No. 1

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  • 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.

Homemade Cleanser Solutions

IngredientReason 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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

How to Make DIY Brush Cleanser Solution Comments

Akoria Ofega from Nigeria on July 01, 2015:

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 Hanson from Minnesota on December 19, 2013:

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!

Suzanne Ridgeway (author) from Dublin, Ireland on November 09, 2012:

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!

Kelly Iverson on November 09, 2012:

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!

Suzanne Ridgeway (author) from Dublin, Ireland on October 30, 2012:

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 from Las Vegas, NV on October 29, 2012:

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.

Suzanne Ridgeway (author) from Dublin, Ireland on October 29, 2012:

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! :-)

Suzanne Ridgeway (author) from Dublin, Ireland on October 29, 2012:

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!! :-)

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on October 29, 2012:

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 from Hawaii on October 28, 2012:

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!

Suzanne Ridgeway (author) from Dublin, Ireland on October 27, 2012:

Hi everythingdazzles,

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

Suzanne Ridgeway (author) from Dublin, Ireland on October 27, 2012:

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! :-)

Suzanne Ridgeway (author) from Dublin, Ireland on October 27, 2012:

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! :-)

Janelle from Houston on October 27, 2012:

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

Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on October 27, 2012:

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 from Texas on October 27, 2012:

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!

Suzanne Ridgeway (author) from Dublin, Ireland on October 26, 2012:

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!! :-)

Suzanne Ridgeway (author) from Dublin, Ireland on October 26, 2012:

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!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on October 25, 2012:

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 from Midwest on October 25, 2012:


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!

Suzanne Ridgeway (author) from Dublin, Ireland on October 25, 2012:

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!! :-)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 25, 2012:

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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