How to Clean All of Your Beauty and Skincare Tools
Cleaning is an essential part of any skincare or beauty routine. Whether manifested as washing your face or sanitizing your tools, it's a key component in not just maintaining your products, but your health, too. As you're storing your winter sweaters and dusting off the grill, take time to give your beauty tools a washing this spring (and long after). With the right care, they'll be as good as new—and help makeup go on smoother and your hair shine brighter.
If you're not sure when it's time to clean or toss an item, there are often actually indicators right on the product. Many brands use a "period after opening" (PAO) symbol on their packaging to indicate how long a product is safe to use after it's been opened. To remember when exactly you cracked the seal (without keeping unsightly plastic around), note the date on the container with a permanent marker. Don't see a PAO? Smell and touch the item. Odor and goop are sure signs you should toss it, says Chicago cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski. Items like electronic face brushes need to be cleaned daily, while others, like your makeup bag, can be washed quarterly. We're sharing expert-approved techniques for cleaning everyday health essentials, like your toothbrush, as well as dishing on Martha's go-to methods for cleaning your hairbrush.
Spring is all about new beginnings—and that includes your bathroom essentials. We've got your scrub-down strategy to refresh the skincare and beauty tool essentials in your routine to keep them tidy.
How and When to Clean an Electronic Face Brush
This skincare routine essential needs to be cleaned daily. Using a grimy face brush is counterproductive. "Dead cells, oil, and bacteria accumulate on the bristles and wind up back on your skin," explains Mona Gohara, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. To clean it, dislodge particles from the brush head by rubbing it against a dry washcloth. Every few days, apply a non-soap wash—like Cetaphil Gentle Skin cleanser ($6.59, walgreens.com)—to the device and turn it on to work in the cleanser. Then rinse it with warm water and let it air-dry. It's important to replace the head every three months, as bristles become distressed and bent out of shape.
How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes
"You can get some nasty infections, including pink eye and even staph, from a dirty brush," cautions Chicago makeup artist Jenny Patinkin. To get your most used brushes in tip top shape, clean them monthly by swirling brush heads on a bar of facial soap to dislodge debris. (Martha loves Orentreich Medical Group's emollient silicone soap bar). Then rinse the bristles thoroughly with warm water. Repeat these steps until the water runs clear. Let brushes dry overnight on a towel, making sure the heads hang over an edge to keep their shape intact. Replace it anytime the bristles start to snap or shed.
How to Clean Your Toothbrush
A healthy smile is a major aspect of your beauty, and wellness, routine. Used twice a day, your toothbrush can become a source for germs. Our mouths are the germiest part of our bodies. As a result, toothbrushes are riddled with bacteria, making proper cleaning crucial, says Marc Lowenberg, a cosmetic dentist in New York City. He recommends cleaning your toothbrush once a week by swishing your toothbrush in equal parts hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, then rinsing thoroughly. The former is an antibacterial agent; the latter offers gentle abrasion, explains Lowenberg. If you share a brush holder, use one with individual holes to keep the bristles from touching and picking up germs from one another.
How to Clean a Hairbrush
We recommend cleaning your hairbrush bimonthly, as product residue and natural oil from your scalp build up on bristles, which then weighs down your hair, says San Diego stylist Jet Rhys. To clean your hairbrush, remove loose strands after each use by running another hairbrush through the bristles. (Or do as Martha does: Lift away mats with an orange stick.) To cut through dirt, Rhys recommends a deep-cleaning every few weeks by soaking the brush in one-part apple-cider vinegar to two parts warm water. Then rinse it with warm water for a few minutes and let it dry overnight. Once the bristles become bent or start falling out, it's time to replace it.
How to Clean Your Loofah
Loofahs, poofs, sponges—they're all veritable petri dishes, which is why it's important to clean them daily. "Consider all the crevices, coupled with their being stored in a damp shower—it's a prime environment for bacterial growth," says Gohara. Before sudsing up, run your sponge under hot water and rub body wash or soap into it. This helps remove any accumulated germs, says Gohara. After bathing, rinse it well with hot water again and dry it outside the tub, by hanging it on a hook or cabinet handle. Replace it every two months, or when it begins to discolor.
How to Clean a Makeup Bag
Even without major mishaps, uncapped makeup and cracked compacts sully a bag's interior—along with your hands, which emerge filthy each time you reach inside. To clean your cherished beauty bag, empty out its contents, then scour the insides with a disposable makeup-removing wipe, advises Patinkin, who likes Neutrogena Makeup Remover cleansing towelettes ($5.99, target.com). Pitch or fix anything that's broken, then clean the rest of your makeup and tools before storing; do this quarterly. You'll know it's time to replace it when the interior won't come clean or the lining starts to peel.