How to Clean a Hairbrush (and Why It's Important)

A woman using a hairbrush on her hair.
Using a dirty hairbrush continuously can cause damage to your clean hair. Cultura RM Exclusive/GretaMarie / Getty Images/Image Source

Learning how to clean a hairbrush might seem like a trivial task, but it's a crucial step towards maintaining your hair's health and shine.

Think about it: Every day, you brush your hair, a simple act of grooming, yet your hairbrush is silently collecting a cocktail of dead skin cells, product residue and dust.

The Dirty Truth About Your Hairbrush

Your hairbrush isn't just a styling tool. It's a magnet for dead skin cells, natural oils and remnants of hair products. This buildup doesn't just affect the brush; it can transfer back onto your hair and scalp, potentially hampering scalp health.

Ever noticed your hair lacking that shine, even after a fresh wash? Your dirty brush might be the culprit.

Sharing is caring, but not when it comes to hairbrushes. Communal brushes can become breeding grounds for head lice and bacteria. A clean brush is a line of defense against these pesky invaders.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Clean Your Hairbrush

You'll need two brushes: the one you're cleaning and a helper brush. Other essentials include a pointy-ended comb or a clean toothbrush, warm water, gentle shampoo or dish soap, and a cotton swab.

Start by removing as much hair as possible from the brush bristles. Use the pointy end of a comb or a toothbrush to loosen and lift the hair. For stubborn strands, a cotton swab works wonders.

The Deep Clean

  1. Prepare the cleaning solution. Mix warm water with a few drops of gentle shampoo or dish soap in a large bowl. For natural bristles and wooden handles, avoid hot water to prevent damage.

  2. Start a brush soak. If you have synthetic brushes, let them soak in the solution for a few minutes. For brushes with wooden handles or natural boar bristles, only the bristles should touch the water.

  3. Perform a gentle scrub. Use your helper brush or toothbrush to gently scrub the bristles. Pay special attention to the base of the bristles, where oil and product residue accumulate.

  4. Rinse thoroughly. Rinse under lukewarm water, ensuring all soap is washed away.

  5. Dry properly. Shake off excess water and lay the brush bristle-side down on a clean towel. Allow it to air dry completely.

Special Case: The Lice Scenario

If you suspect your brush has been exposed to head lice, follow these additional steps.

  1. Remove hair. As before, clear all hair from the brush.

  2. Disinfect. Soak the brush in rubbing alcohol or a lice-killing medicated shampoo.

  3. Rinse and dry. Rinse thoroughly and let it air dry.

When to Clean Your Hairbrush

How often should you clean your hairbrush? It depends on your usage and hair type. A good rule of thumb is to clean your hairbrush once a week. However, if you use lots of styling products, have long hair or have a scalp condition, you might want to clean it more frequently.

Beyond Cleaning: Maintaining Your Hairbrush

A well-maintained hairbrush not only keeps your hair clean but also ensures its longevity. Regular cleaning is vital, but there's more to hairbrush care.

  • Assess crush type. Different brushes require different care. Paddle brushes, plastic brushes and synthetic bristles can handle more water, while wooden brushes and natural bristles need a gentler approach.

  • Avoid excess water. For brushes with wooden handles or natural bristles, avoid submerging in water so as to prevent damage.

  • Remove lint and residue. Use a toothbrush to gently remove lint and residue from the base of the bristles.

  • Air dry completely. Always let your brush dry completely before using it again to prevent lingering moisture and bacteria growth.

  • Replace when needed. Over time, bristles wear out, and the brush loses its effectiveness. If you notice bent bristles, a worn-out pad or it just doesn't feel right, it might be time for a new brush.

The Importance of Cleaning Your Hair Tools

A clean brush means healthier hair and scalp. Removing hair, dead skin cells and product buildup from your brush prevents them from being redeposited onto your scalp, keeping your hair shiny and your scalp happy.

Keep in mind that proper care of your hair tools is just as important as choosing the right shampoo or conditioner. A clean brush contributes to overall hair and scalp health.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.

Original article: How to Clean a Hairbrush (and Why It's Important)

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