DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner: A Simple Natural Recipe

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DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner Homemade

DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner

A few weeks ago, I noticed my skin was starting to break out. It started with little bumps around my hairline, then I noticed a few on my chin.

I started thinking about what could have caused it. Did I change soaps recently? Was it something I could be eating? Then it hit me: I haven’t cleaned my makeup brushes in quite some time.

I don’t generally wear a lot of makeup, normally just some natural mascara and lip balm, but lately we’ve had several occasions to dress up which means I’ve been putting my makeup brushes to good use. After inspecting my brushes, I noticed that there was quite a buildup of makeup and they felt a little grimy. I tried to rinse them under some warm water, but the grime just wouldn’t budge.

So I did a little research and found that I really should be using a cleaning solution to clean my brushes 1-2 times each week. Yikes!

Failing to clean makeup brushes regularly not only leads to buildup of makeup, but also buildup of bacteria, skin cells, and naturally occurring skin oils on the brushes. Any one of these could be the culprit for my breakout.

Making Your Own Makeup Brush Cleaner

Of course, there are so many makeup brush cleaners on the market. You can go to any beauty store and pick one up, but they are often expensive, heavily fragranced, or full of toxic ingredients.

There are a few great, natural makeup brush cleaners on the market, but they are extremely pricey and I find that I go through makeup brush cleaner really quickly.

With all that said, I needed a frugal, natural alternative that wasn’t going to hurt my brushes. I’ve seen quite a few natural brush cleaner recipes online and they use some harsh ingredients like alcohol, commercial dish soap, and lemon juice. Some of these acids can really do a number on natural or synthetic makeup brushes. With these recipes, if you don’t use the proper cleaning method, the solution can get into your brush heads/binders and even loosen the glue!

Not only that, but if you are using a natural makeup brush, you will need to recondition the bristles after cleaning. Too much cleaning without reconditioning can make the bristles brittle or dry. This recipe uses some conditioning oils to help bring natural moisture back to brushes.

To disinfect brushes, you’ll want to use something like rubbing alcohol, but  you can simply use a fine mist sprayer to spray your brush once clean. No need to completely saturate the brush with alcohol.

Also note: you should toss your makeup brushes every 1-5 years depending on the type of brush and how often you use them.

Ingredients for Gentle Cleaning

The recipe below can be changed to suit your particular brush needs, and made with whatever ingredients you happen to have in your home. I used castile soap and (fractionated) coconut oil, but another natural soap and nourishing oil should work just as well. (Fractionated coconut oil is always liquid, making it easier to work with in recipes like this.)

One of my favorite oils to use is sweet almond because it is light and odorless. You could also choose olive oil or jojoba oil. I used baby mild castile soap in this recipe because I prefer to “baby” my brushes and not use anything too harsh or acidic.

Natural DIY Makeup Brush Cleaner



  1. Add coconut oil and castile soap to a small dish.
  2. Using brush, mix well on the plate (take care to keep the mixture to the brush head only).
  3. After mixing for 1-2 minutes, rinse brush in sink pointing the tip of the brush downward.
  4. Rinse brush and blot excess water on a towel.
  5. If the towel is clean, let brush air dry. If the brush leaves makeup stains on the towel, repeat this process until clean.

Note: this recipe is simply to clean brushes. If you need to disinfect your brush, you can spray with rubbing alcohol to get rid of many germs.


About Katie Vance

Katie is a wife, mother, aromatherapist, and lover of all things DIY. She offers consultations and gives simple aromatherapy advice at Katie Vance, Aromatherapy Simplified. You can also find Katie on Facebook.

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  1. Ben Grego says

    How about diluted shampoo, either half water, half shampoo. Or 1 part shampoo to 2 parts water???

    Keep it simple!!!

    • Katie Vance says

      While you could try adding Tea Tree, I’m not sure what effect it will have on the brush bristles. That essential oil, while quite effective at killing bacteria and viruses, can be very acidic.