How to Clean Makeup Brushes in 5 Minutes with 1 Non-toxic Ingredient!


Do you love makeup?

Me too! Then, like me, you’re probably wondering how to clean makeup brushes with something natural.

Even if you’re using natural makeup, brushes can get… icky after a while.


Because it’s not just makeup on those brushes. We’re talking dead skin, oils, bacteria, dirt… you get the picture.

Today I want to teach you how to clean makeup brushes gently and effectively so they stay fresh and last longer!

Here’s how I clean my brushes:

How to Clean Makeup Brushes: What to Use

Sure, I can scrub my brushes with some kind of industrial cleaner and it’ll probably work.

But then, my pretty brushes would lose a lot of lifespan (did I tell you they were a wee bit expensive?) and I really don’t want to use chemicals if I don’t have to (or like, ever).

So for a while I was putting off cleaning them at all. Which was a mistake. I mean, look at this:

How to Clean Makeup Brushes - Yucky Brushes

We have sparkly eye shadow, rosy blush, gobs of foundation and who-knows-what-else all over the place. Ew.

But vinegar, baking soda and the like?

Wasn’t really cutting it. Plus those alkaline and acid solutions can be a little rough on your brushes.

So it was time to find a simple, non-toxic and effective way to clean my makeup brushes.

Here’s what I like to use:

I’ll be honest, the search wasn’t a long one. I actually knew exactly what to reach for: the same product I cleaned my very, very filthy oven with last year: Branch Basics.

This concentrated non-toxic cleaner has been a lifesaver for my family in the last year, which I could call the year of cleaning everything (did I mention we moved?).

What do I clean with it?

Bathtubs, walls, refrigerators, damp dusting, windows, cabinets… pretty much anything you can imagine has been cleaned with this stuff.

So why not clean my makeup brushes, too? It was too easy:

  • Add 2 tablespoons of Branch Basics to 1/4 cup hot water.
  • Soak for 5 minutes (or if your brushes are super dirty like mine, try 10-15 minutes).

It’ll look something like this:

How to Clean Makeup Brushes - Soak 'em

That’s all you need to do to start!

The enzymes and all natural soaps in Branch Basics breaks down dirt and oils so that your brushes practically clean themselves. Practically.

You have to try my next trick to get finish the job:

How to Clean Makeup Brushes: The Swirling Technique

If you love makeup like I do, then you probably know that two things are required:quality product and technique.

We’ve already got my product of choice covered, so now onto technique:

I call it swirling.

Fun name, right? Here’s how it works:

  • After adding your brush(es) to the cleaning solution and soaking for 5 minutes, now you want to swirl them.
  • Gently “swirl” your makeup brush along the bottom of the glass — not too rough, since you want to preserve the integrity of the bristles. Do this for about 30-60 seconds and watch that water turn even murkier!

How to Clean Makeup Brushes - After swirling

Tip: I find it works best to swirl one brush at a time.

You have to do a little swirling because makeup brushes can be dense, and makeup works its way down in to the bristles.

Soak then swirl.

Soaking gets the cleaner in there to break up the yucky stuff, then swirling acts like a gentle scrubbing to wash it all away.

How to Clean Makeup Brushes: The Last Step

Don’t forget to dry your brushes!

If they’re wet too long (or if you stuff them in your makeup case while they’re still wet), you risk fostering icky bacteria.

Here are some tips for drying:

  • Squeeze them gently with a towel to absorb excess moisture.
  • Then lay your brushes flat on a dry towel so they can air dry.
  • Or if you’re in a pinch, put your hair dryer on its lowest setting and gently dry them that way.

After that, your brushes will look good as new!

How to Clean Makeup Brushes After - from

Want some Branch Basics? Save 20%

Like I said, I use my Branch Basics for absolutely everything — it’s genuinely non-toxic, which means it can be used in ways you’d never think to use an all-purpose cleaner. Here are a few things I’ve tried:branch basics

  • I used it for damp dusting, cleaning mirrors, and wiping down windows in a 1:30 dilution.
  • I cleaned my shower, bathroom and kitchen with a 1:5 dilution.
  • I used a 1:3 dilution to soak dishes with burnt-on food — totally melted the scorched food right off my cookware. (Which, unfortunately, I have to do more often than I’d like — definitely no Betty Crocker here!)
  • I used a 1:5 dilution as a laundry stain remover.
  • I used a 1:5 dilution for foaming hand soap (I love adding essential oils for a cheerful smell!). Which, amazingly, you can use as a face and body wash (seriously!).
  • I used a 1:5 dilution for washing my furry friends: my two dogs Lady and Pongo. They still don’t like baths, but at least this way they don’t end up with irritated skin from harsh ingredients.


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