How To Clean Your Hair Brushes

When was the last time you took a long, hard look at your hairbrush and realised that it has some hygiene issues? For some people, the answer may be never. However, how about you get up and really look at the bottom of the bristles of your hairbrush.

Because that’s where the real problem lies. The innocent-looking grey lint in a snug circular hold is what constitutes a “dirty brush.” And it’s not just the ick factor that prompts people to Google “how to clean your hair brushes,” this linty gunk is actually harmful to your scalp health. Let’s find out how.

Why Cleaning Your Brush Is Important?

We could make a list of all the things that your hairbrush has to suffer through on a daily basis.


First, it’s the good ol’ sebum – the shiny grease you see on your hair. If you hold a bristle in between your two fingers and run the length of them, you’ll find out that it’s oily. And you have to thank your sebum for that. Any sebum on your hair brush will also stick to your clean hair roots and lead to greasy hair more easily.

Hair Product

Next up, there’s the hair product. From shampoos (especially if it’s dry shampoo), masks, conditioners to hair sprays and serums, the list of products that promise luscious hair is endless. And, somehow, we always end up falling for the packaging and the scent of these. Well, if your hair is full of product, it will show on the dirty hairbrush.

Skin Cells & Dandruff

After that, there are dead skin cells and dandruff. Sure, that stuff flakes off the head, but you know how brushing generates static, right? The clinging gives ample opportunity for cells and dandruff to stick to the brush itself and settle at the bottom.

Dust, and Maybe, Food

And lastly, there’s the dust. The tiny motes of them that you come across from the waking hour of the day till you sleep at night and, of course, during that. So, really, all the time. And if you have more “wild” table manners, you’ll also find a few bits and pieces of food in there.

Loose Hair

Of course, it ends up there. Those strands that choose to part from your scalp end up entangled between the bristles of the brush. Some tiny broken hair can also get stuck in the plug of the bristles or end up in the lint.

Okay, So What?

All of the things mentioned above come together to form this Frankenstein residue. And, yes, it will wreak havoc on your hair. Imagine washing your hair and coming out of your bathroom like a model in a shampoo commercial.

But instead of using clean hairbrushes, you use brush bristles that have a lot of dirt trapped in them. In a minute or so, you’ll put the gunk back in your freshly washed hair that you put so much time into getting out. If your hairbrush stays dirty, so will your hair.

Now, the problem doesn’t end there. Since your hairbrush is the perfect place for microbes to breed, that’s exactly what they’ll do. And you can end up with scalp infections. Bacteria and fungi will have a field day, but you can suffer from their presence. The dirty hairbrushes actually help them spread throughout the entire scalp. So, that’s why it’s important for you to clean these just as you clean your makeup brushes.

How to Clean Your Hair Brushes?

How to clean your hair brushes is going to be tedious. However, it is something that needs to be done. Don’t fret; it won’t take long. So, let’s find out how to clean your hair brushes.

Step 1: Get The Big Stuff Out

You need to get out all the hair that is stuck in the brush. You can get this excess hair out by either using your fingers, which can be quite time-consuming, tweezers, a wide-toothed comb, or a long stick. All you need to do is lift it from the base, and then using a scissor, cut it out. If the hair network is too dense and hard to dislodge, begin by cutting it with scissors.

Step 2: Prepare A Hot Water Bath…For Your Brush

We can agree that it deserves that. This is the part where you do a deep clean of your brush. Take some warm water. Either fill your sink with it or take a small tub. And then, put some gentle shampoo into the water. What better way to clean a hairbrush than with a few drops of shampoo? You can add a couple of teaspoons of baking soda to the mix. After that, you need to let the brush soak in the warm water for at least 30 minutes.

Now, of course, you have to be careful about a few things here. If it’s a full plastic brush, you can put it in the water without worrying much. However, if it’s a wooden brush, you shouldn’t completely submerge it since it can damage the brush. In any case, it’s better not to submerge it entirely since if the water gets trapped behind the base of the brush, you may get stuck with mould, which is even worse.

Step 3: Scrub, Rinse & Dry

Now is the time you convert your toothbrush into a brush for your hairbrush (only slightly confusing). With this, you need to get to scrubbing the base and the bristles. After scrubbing, thoroughly rinse the brush with warm water. Once that’s done, lay the wet brush with the bristles facing down to let it dry. Now keep in mind it’s usually the paddle brush or brushes, in general, that is more tricky to clean. For a plastic brush or comb, one round in the dishwater would do for thorough cleaning.

How Do You Clean A Lice Comb?

Lice comb definitely counts as being dirty, and you may wonder how to clean your hair brushes that have lice in them. Now, you have to be careful about cleaning these well to avoid an infestation. Even though there are special lice combs (or nit combs) that you won’t normally use, you should expect the lice on it to do some jumping from one brush to the other, just like it did with your scalp.

So, if you don’t clean the lice comb, you’ll end up with lice in your clean hairbrushes, and soon enough, you’ll have a lice problem at hand. But how exactly do you nip the evil in the bud? Turns out, there are a few ways.

  • First, take a paper towel to wipe away any visible eggs or bugs on the comb and put it in a bag before throwing it away.
  • After that, take the comb under a high-pressure spray and make sure to get each tong by spacing it apart using your fingers.
  • This might not be enough, which is why you need to boil some water to 130°F according to the CDC, and let the comb sit in it for 5–10 minutes.
  • Then take it out to dry and also clean it with rubbing alcohol. In addition, you can use a toothbrush, floss, or a special cleaning device that comes with the comb to clean between the tongs.
  • You can then leave the comb to dry.

How Frequently Should You Clean Your Hairbrush?

Now that we’ve explained how to clean your hair brushes, we can move on to how frequently we should clean them. It depends on a few things, and the answer to the question can vary accordingly. Still, it’s better to perform a health check-up on your hairbrush once every week to make sure that it’s clean.

Of course, people with shorter hair won’t have as much gunk or residue in their hair as people with longer hair. So, their brush won’t be as dirty, requiring less frequent cleaning. Some people don’t brush their hair as often. This is especially true for those who have curly hair.

If you don’t use as many or any hair products, you can go without cleaning your hairbrush for a month. Keep an eye on how much you put your scalp through daily. If you stay out in the sun and sweat quite a lot, either due to work or sports, you’ll have more dirt in your hair, which will make your brush dirty more quickly.

When Should You Replace the Old Hairbrush or Comb?

Now, rather than finding out how to clean your hair brushes, many people simply want to do away with them rather than go through the hassle of cleaning them. That’s definitely not a good idea, especially for the environment. However, in some cases, it’s necessary. Now, there’s no average time after which you should replace your hairbrush. It can vastly vary depending on your use and your hair.

But if your brush has lost a lot of the bristles or they’re bent out of shape, you may need to replace the old hairbrush. And in some cases, finding out how to clean your hair brushes is not enough because the gunk may be too hard to dislodge, and continual use of the brush can cause you harm. Just keep in that when a hair brush isn’t able to serve its purpose completely or adequately, it’s probably time to replace it.

Conclusion on How to Clean Your Hair Brushes

Now you know that you should be cleaning your hairbrush because it collects dirt, dead skin cells, oil, sweat, and so much more, which not only makes the hair dirty but increases the risk of infection. Cleaning lice combs is even more important to avoid reinfestation.

Reviewed and Approved by Trichologist Yaprak Yazan

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