I’m not going to beat around the bush; I’m pretty into my hair. And I have a lot of it. And I have a lot of hair brushes. And my daughter Riley has a few hair brushes too. And my husband Chad has a couple of hair brushes. So knowing how to clean a hair brush is very important in my household, and I’m guessing it’s important in yours too.
In the past, I would use hair brushes for years and not really think about cleaning them. Sometimes I would get a flash of brilliance and decide to pick the hair out, but that’s about as far as I’ll go.
Honestly, I feel a slight pinch of shame now that I’ve done the research and know how thoroughly disgusting dirty hair brushes are. Hair brushes are similar to sponges or carpets. They harbor a whole bunch of unwanted stuff. They trap hair (of course), dust, dirt, oils, and old hair products. And worst of all, they can even trap dust mites!
But the fact that really got me was this: each time you brush with an unclean hair brush, you actually re-deposit grease, product, dust, and dead skin cells back into your hair. Need a barf bag? Further, your brush smells and loses efficacy when it’s clogged up (no surprise there). So if that isn’t motivation enough to clean your hair brush, I don’t know what is!
So let’s give your hair a break from grease, grime, oils, and all kinds of other nasty stuff, and clean your hair brush!
Hair Brush Cleaning 101
It is recommended to clean hair brushes out, but if that seems unrealistic, once a month is still way better than nothing. And once your hair brush is clean, you’ll realize how much better it feels and how much better your hair feels too.
How to clean your hair brush will depend on if your hair brush is made of plastic, metal, or wood and if the bristles are natural or nylon. So today, I’m discussing how to clean a plastic or metal paddle and round brush, how to clean a plastic or metal comb, and how to clean a wooden brush with natural bristles (or a mix of nylon and natural). Boom, I’ve got you covered!
Tools You Need to Clean A Hair Brush
Before you get started cleaning your hair brush, you’ll need a few tools.
- A pen, pick, or edge of a rat tail comb
- A pair of scissors
- A garbage bag
- A cleaning toothbrush
- A teaspoon of baking soda
- A teaspoon of shampoo or vegetable soap
What you need depends on what time of hair brush you have, so keep reading to learn about the tools and techniques that will work for your hair brush.
Plastic & Metal Paddle (and Round) Brushes & Combs
Here’s everything you need to know to clean plastic and metal brushes (round and rectangular) and combs.
Step 1: Start by using the end of the rat tail comb (or pen or pick) and loosening the hair from the bottom of the brush, working your way up to the top. Really get under everything, go right up against the pad of the brush to dig out all the hair and dust.
You can use the comb teeth to lift out any extra hair if necessary. Just be careful not to pop off the little plastic balls at the tip of the bristles. I use the teeth to raise the hair up right under the ends of the bristles and then use the rat tail end of the comb to pop the hair balls and dust out (and can I just say, EW!).
Step 2: Once you’ve loosened the hair, take the scissors and snip down the center. This is going to make pulling the hair out a lot easier. Now, grab the clumps of hair and throw them away (duh!). And a quick reminder, unless you have a crush on your plumber, the hair should go in the garbage and not down the sink.
If you have a round brush, use this same technique on one half of the brush, then rotate it 180 degrees and repeat the technique on the other side. This is a little more difficult than with a rectangular-shaped brush.
Step 3: Now, it’s time to wash the brushes. I don’t recommend soaking the brushes because they’re not made to be submerged in water. Instead, create a cleaning solution using a cup of water, one teaspoon of shampoo, and one teaspoon of baking soda.
Mix your solution together and apply it to the bristles and bristle base (or pad), brushing gently but thoroughly. Make sure to clean the outer edge of the brush as well as each bristle, starting at the bottom and brushing in an upward motion. Use your cleaning toothbrush to tackle any remaining hairs.
Step 4: Finally, give your brush a quick rinse and lay it flat, bristles down, to dry.
Wooden Brushes With Natural or Combination Bristles
If you have a wooden base brush, you’ll have to take a bit of a different route because you have to keep them pretty dry.
Step 1 & 2: Complete steps 1 and 2 as outlined in the previous section.
Step 3: Make a cleaning solution with one cup of water and five drops of tea tree oil. Mix that up and then follow step 3.
Step 4: Lightly mist water onto the brush base and bristles to rinse the tea tree oil off. Wipe well with a microfiber cloth and lay flat, bristles down, to dry.
How to Clean a Hair Brush
Now you have no excuse not to clean your hair brush (sorry, but it’s true). But trust me, once you start cleaning your hair brush, you’ll never want to use a dirty brush again.
And speaking of hair, if your pet has a lot of hair, be sure to read Best Pet Hair Remover: 5 Simple Tips. OK, OK, it’s a bad segue, but it’s a great article!
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