Regularly cleaning your brush prevents dirt, oil, and bacteria from being deposited right back onto your scalp.
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Woman's hand brushing blonde hair. Cares about a healthy and clean hair.
Credit: GETTY IMAGES

While you may regularly clean your makeup brushes and face towels, one beauty tool that's often overlooked when it comes to routine maintenance is your hairbrush. A hub for excess dirt, oil, and dust, an un-clean hairbrush can cause those substances to wind up back on your head.

To keep your scalp clean, removing the hair from your brush and giving it a thorough scrub regularly is a must. While we understand that you might not want to add yet another beauty chore to your list, cleaning your hairbrush is one you'll be thankful you took the time to check off. 

How Often to Clean a Hairbrush

You should aim to clean your hairbrush bi-weekly—or more frequently if you have dandruff or psoriasis—to limit the buildup of bacteria and dust. "If we use an unclean hairbrush, all of the oil and dirt will return back onto our hair, causing dandruff, clogging hair follicles, and increasing oil production," says Jamie Wiley, artistic director of Pureology. Over time, products like dry shampoo and styling waxes can remain on the hairbrush and be deposited back onto your scalp.

What You'll Need to Clean a Hairbrush

Make sure you have these tools on hand before you tackle this beauty chore.

  • Pintail comb
  • Tweezers
  • Soap
  • Baking soda
  • Toothbrush

How to Remove Hair From the Brush

The first step to cleaning your brush, no matter what type you have, is removing the hair from the bristles. There are a few different ways to do this. The easiest approach is to "simply use your fingers to pull the strands out of the bristles in one swift motion," says LeAna McKnight, founder of SL Raw Virgin Hair. Alternatively, you can use a pintail comb by moving the comb around the base of the brush with its point tip and pulling the strands out. Use tweezers to remove any excess product buildup.

How to Clean a Hairbrush With Synthetic Bristles

To clean a brush with synthetic bristles (think nylon), follow these steps from Helen Reavey, board certified trichologist and founder of Act+Acre

  1. Remove hair and any product buildup using your fingers, a pintail comb, or tweezers. 
  2. Fill a large bowl with lukewarm water and let the brush soak with the bristles down. 
  3. Wait two minutes then pour baking soda into the water and gently scrub the brush to ensure all of the product buildup is being taken off the brush. 
  4. If excess product remains, apply shampoo to a bamboo toothbrush and scrub the brush to get around the bristles more easily. 
  5. Once clean, remove the brush from the water and place it with the bristles down to let it dry.

How to Clean a Hairbrush With Natural Bristles

Although the steps are similar, there are some key differences when cleaning a brush with natural bristles (like boar hair) versus one with synthetic bristles. 

  1. Remove hair and any product buildup using your fingers, a pintail comb, or tweezers. 
  2. Fill a large bowl with cold water, add a drop or two of shampoo and let the brush soak with the bristles down. 
  3. Apply shampoo directly to the bristles and use your hands to carefully lather the shampoo between each bristle. 
  4. Rinse with cold water.
  5. Once clean, remove the brush from the water and place it with the bristles down to let it dry.

How to Clean a Hairbrush With a Wooden Handle 

Brushes with wooden handles should never soak in water like their plastic counterparts. "This will reduce the brush's lifespan and can potentially cause severe damage by swelling or creating cracks," says McKnight. 

  1. Remove hair and any product buildup using your fingers, a pintail comb, or tweezers. 
  2. With the bristles facing down, run cool water over the brush without getting the handle wet. 
  3. Apply a small amount of shampoo or dish detergent to the bristles and use your hands to carefully lather the shampoo between each bristle. 
  4. Rinse with cool water. 
  5. Hang the brush upside down with the bristles facing downwards to air dry.

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