How to Clean Your Hairbrush (Deep and Regular Cleaning)

We show you how to clean hairbrushes with two easy methods. Includes tips for cleaning wooden hairbrushes and plastic or silicone varieties.

Taking care of our hairbrushes often falls to the bottom of our to-do lists. But did you know cleaning your hairbrush is essential for healthier, happier hair? 

Your hairbrush collects residue of all kinds in its bristles: dead skin cells, dust, hair care products like leave-in conditioners, gels, and hairspray. And every time you use your brush, this buildup is transferred back to your hair, compromising the cleanliness and health of that hair.

We’ll walk you through two simple and effective methods to keep your hairbrush fresh and clean, whether you’re dealing with a stubborn buildup or need a quick regular cleaning method. Plus, as a bonus, we’ll show you how to clean wooden hairbrushes with extra care.

What you’ll need

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap or shampoo
  • A bowl or sink
  • A toothbrush or small cleaning brush
  • A tail comb or a pen with a fine tip 
  • Clean towel or cloth


How to clean hairbrushes (2 ways)

A hairbrush harbors bacteria, smelly old hair, and scalp flakes. Cleaning your hairbrush regularly helps with hygiene, keeps your hair healthy, and prolongs the brush's lifespan. The two best ways to clean your hairbrush are with dish soap (for regular cleaning) or vinegar and baking soda mixture (for deep cleaning).

Method 1: Cleaning a hairbrush with vinegar and baking soda

Start by removing the hair buildup with your fingers or a tail comb. Then, soak the hairbrush in a mixture of one part vinegar, two parts warm water, and two teaspoons baking soda for 30 minutes. After soaking, scrub with a toothbrush, rinse with warm water, and dry thoroughly.

Remove hair buildup

Start by using your fingers to remove any loose hair wrapped around the bristles of your hairbrush. Gently pull the hair strands and unwind them from the brush. 

If it’s difficult to remove, or if the hair buildup is densely packed, grab the pointy end of a tail comb or a pen to loosen and extract them carefully. 

Doing this frees up larger clumps of hair, dust, scalp oil, and product residue, making it easier for the cleaning solution to work effectively in the following steps. Do be careful not to damage the bristles in the process.

Prepare your vinegar and baking soda cleaning solution

Fill a bowl or sink with warm water. Add one part white vinegar to two parts water, then sprinkle a teaspoon or two of baking soda into the solution. 

Mixing vinegar and baking soda helps break down oils and residue, disinfect, and remove any unpleasant odors from your brush.

Submerge the hairbrush in the solution

Now, submerge your hairbrush in the vinegar and baking soda solution, ensuring the bristles are completely submerged while the handle is kept out. 

Let the bristles soak in the solution for around 20 to 30 minutes. This soaking time helps to loosen and soften any remaining dirt and buildup on the bristles.

Scrub the hairbrush

After the soaking period, use a toothbrush or a small cleaning brush to scrub the bristles of your hairbrush. Start at the base of the bristles and work your way up toward the tips, gently scrubbing back and forth. Pay extra attention to any areas with visible residue or stubborn buildup.

Rinse and dry

Once you've thoroughly scrubbed the bristles, rinse the hairbrush under warm water to remove the vinegar and baking soda solution and any leftover residue. Pat dry with a clean towel or cloth to remove excess water, then place the brush on a dry towel to air dry. 

This vinegar and baking soda method is excellent for deep cleaning your hairbrush, as it helps to remove stubborn residue, oils, and buildup. 

However, if you're looking for a simpler method for regular cleaning or don't have vinegar and baking soda readily available, you can try the dish soap method below. It is equally effective for routine maintenance of your hairbrush.

Method 2: Cleaning a hairbrush with dish soap or shampoo

Cleaning your hairbrush with dish soap or shampoo removes dirt, oils, and buildup. First, remove the loose hair with your fingers. Then, make a solution of dish soap (or shampoo) and water in a bowl. Soak the bristles in the solution for 15 minutes and scrub with a toothbrush. Rinse with warm water and dry thoroughly.

Remove the hair buildup

Start by using your fingers or a comb to remove any hair that's tangled or wrapped around the bristles. This will make it easier to clean the brush and ensure a more thorough cleaning process.

Prepare the cleaning solution

Fill a bowl or sink with warm water. If you have synthetic bristles, add a small amount of dish soap or your regular shampoo to the water. Swirl the water gently to create a soapy solution. 

Dish soap or shampoo effectively breaks down oils, dirt, and product buildup on synthetic bristles. 

However, if your hairbrush is made with natural materials like boar bristle, it's best to use a mild shampoo free of sulfates. This helps to maintain the integrity and quality of the natural materials while still providing effective cleaning.

Soak the hairbrush

Next, place the hairbrush in the soapy water, ensuring the bristles are fully submerged. Allow it to soak for 10 to 15 minutes to loosen stubborn dirt and oils.

Scrub the hairbrush

Using a toothbrush or a small cleaning brush, gently scrub the bristles of the hairbrush. 

Start at the bristles' base and work toward the tips. Pay extra attention to any areas with visible residue or stubborn buildup. The soapy water will help lift away dirt and oils from the bristles.

Rinse and dry the hairbrush 

Thoroughly rinse the hairbrush under warm running water to remove the soap residue. Make sure to rinse all the bristles so no soap is left behind. 

Then, gently pat the hairbrush with a clean towel or cloth to remove excess water. Allow it to air dry completely, bristle-side down, or prop it up with the bristles facing down to ensure that water doesn't pool in the base of the brush. 

How to clean wooden hairbrushes

To clean a wooden hairbrush, remove as much hair as possible with your fingers or the pointed end of a comb. Dip the bristles in a bowl filled with warm, soapy water, ensuring the wood stays dry. Use a toothbrush to gently clean between the wet bristles. Rinse under running water and stand it upright to air dry.

This extra care is necessary so your wooden brush doesn’t become water damaged. Here are the detailed steps for this method: 

  • Remove any hair tangled around the bristles using your fingers or the pointed end of a comb.
  • Mix a small amount of mild shampoo or dish soap with warm water in a bowl or sink.
  • Dip the bristles into the soapy water, ensuring the wood handle remains dry.
  • Gently scrub the bristles with a toothbrush to remove dirt, oils, and product buildup.
  • Rinse the bristles thoroughly under warm running water, removing the soap residue.
  • Shake off any excess water and pat the bristles dry with a clean towel or cloth.
  • Stand the wooden hairbrush upright, with the bristles facing down, and let it air dry completely.
  • Avoid exposing the wooden handle to excessive moisture or heat, as this can cause damage to the wood.

Why is there gray fuzz in my hairbrush?

Gray fuzz in your hairbrush can happen for a few reasons. It might be because of hair falling out naturally, lint from towels or clothes, or leftovers from hair products. If the brush bristles are worn or damaged, they can also release tiny fibers that appear gray.

Can you clean hairbrushes with Dawn?

Yes, you can clean your hairbrushes with Dawn dish soap, as it can effectively remove dirt, oils, and hair product buildup from the bristles. Simply mix a small amount of Dawn with warm water, soak the hairbrush, and scrub the bristles gently with a toothbrush. Then, rinse thoroughly, and allow it to air dry. 

Learn more: If you’re already on a cleaning kick, why not also tackle these other less-than-routine tasks?

Regularly clean your hairbrush for healthier hair

It's a good idea to give your hairbrush a thorough cleaning on a regular basis if you want your hair to look its best, free of dirt or product residue. Remember that when you pamper your brushes, you also empower your hair to shine. 

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