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How to Clean a Hairbrush

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How to Clean a Hairbrush

Did you know that you’re supposed to clean your hairbrush? Don’t feel silly if you didn’t, many people don’t. But over time, they can collect dust, hair fragments, and bits of skin from your scalp. And you don’t want all of that rubbed back into your hair next time you brush.

Thankfully, there’s a simple solution. Rather than replacing your hairbrush each time it starts to get dirty, follow our guide and clean it instead. Let’s jump right into what you came here for: how to clean a hairbrush.

Why is it Important to Clean Your Hairbrush?

As we mentioned above, over time, hairbrushes collect things. And they’re not exactly the types of things that you would want to run through your hair next time you use it. While they smooth and detangle, hairbrushes also soak up oil, dirt, lint, dust, and dead skin.

They can also soak up your hair products, adding a film or layer or unwanted residue. This can make your hair look greasy and perpetuate many common hair problems. And the problem only becomes worse if you have preexisting scalp issues like dandruff. 

To avoid the buildup of these unwanted elements and exacerbation of common hair concerns, it’s important to give your hairbrush a good clean. We’ll get into how often and how to do it soon.

What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Hairbrush?

The list of things that buildup on hairbrushes is enough to make most of us cringe. But it’s not just the ick factor that we should consider. Not cleaning your hairbrush can actually be detrimental to the health of your strands and scalp.

Hairbrushes are meant to evenly distribute your natural oils as you brush. This way, your strands are smoothed from top to tip. But if your hairbrush is filled with layers of hair, lint, dust, skin, and product buildup, it’s not likely to work the way it’s supposed to.

Instead, your hairbrush will add dirt, oils, and other bits of unwanted materials back to your scalp and strands. This can get especially tricky if you use hairspray or other heavy products regularly.

Repeatedly transferring this buildup back to your hair can cause it to appear greasy, weigh it down, damage the overall health of your hair, or even cause hair loss. Any place where dust, oil, and skin can build up can also serve as a breeding ground for bacteria.

Believe it or not, a dirty hairbrush can even increase your risk of infection. It can also cause a smell that you may not notice but may be rubbed into your clean hair when you brush it. From the general unease caused by something unclean to actual health detriments, there are plenty of reasons to keep your hairbrush clean.

And now you understand why we dedicated a full article to how to clean a hairbrush! Next, we’ll talk about how often it should be done, how to do it, how to store your hairbrush to keep it clean, and a product that’s proven to be a true game-changer.

How Often Should You Clean Your Hairbrush?

Because hair products contribute to a significant amount of hairbrush buildup, there are two different answers to this question. If you regularly use styling creams, gels, or hairspray, you should clean your hairbrush once per week.

If you don’t use much product in your hair, aim to clean your hairbrush every two to three weeks instead. To make the process easier, remove any accumulated hair in the bristles every couple of days or so.

How to Clean a Hairbrush – Product List

Even if you’ve never done it before, cleaning a hairbrush isn’t too difficult or time-consuming. And once you’ve done it once, it’ll get easier next time. Here is what you’ll need:

  • A bowl of warm water or an empty bathroom sink.
  • A gentle shampoo; we recommend choosing one of our eco-friendly shampoo bars in citrus fresh, cocolime colada, forest mist, fresh mint, honeydew Moroccan oil, or summer breeze scent. Their natural ingredients make them safe for all hair types, including color-treated bobs. We also offer an unscented option for unisex haircare and particularly sensitive scalps. Read more about our best shampoo bars here.
  • A pair of scissors.
  • An old toothbrush.
  • Baking soda (optional.)
  • A rat-tail comb (optional.)

Step-By-Step Instructions for Cleaning Your Hairbrush

Here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for, how to clean a hairbrush:

  • Remove any hair stuck in the bristles. You can use that optional rat tail comb or any pointed object, like a pen or toothpicks. If your hair is particularly tangled in there, use the scissors to cut it away.
  • Fill your bowl or sink with warm water.
  • Add a bit of your shampoo to the water and swish around until it all suds up. If you need additional cleaning power, add one or two teaspoons of your optional baking soda, and stir the water well again.
  • If your hairbrush is plastic, submerge and let it soak for three to five minutes. But beware of soft padding at the base where the bristles attach. This material shouldn’t be submerged. Instead, dip your bristles in the water and keep the padding dry.
  • If your hairbrush is made of wood, follow the instructions for the plastic brush with padding; don’t entirely submerge it, just the bristles.
  • Dip the brush or bristles and shake around several times to loosen and remove the buildup of skin, dirt, oil, and product.

If your hairbrush wasn’t too dirty, to begin with, you may be able to stop here. But if you’re still noticing some gunk or buildup, continue to step seven.

  • For particularly dirty hairbrushes, old toothbrushes are great for deep cleaning the base and bristles. Just dip your old toothbrush into your soapy shampoo mixture and scrub the individual bristles, starting at the base and working your way up. If there’s no padding in your brush, scrub the base, too. This step will likely take longer than the others, but it will give you a good, deep clean you can feel good about. Your toothbrush can get deep into those hard-to-reach spots and eliminate sneaky bits of buildup.

Whether you end on step six or seven, the next and final step is to rinse and dry. If you don’t have padding or wood to worry about, just rinse thoroughly under a cool stream of water.

Then, leave it to dry with the bristles face down on a clean cloth or towel. If you’re working with padding or a wooden hairbrush, sprinkle a little water on the brush and wipe it dry with a clean cloth instead.

How to Clean a Hairbrush Full of Lint

The steps for how to clean a hairbrush are generally the same whether you’ve collected bits of skin and hair or oil and dirt. But there’s one unwanted substance that may prove a bit more challenging. And that substance is lint.

If there’s one thing we know about lint, it’s that it sticks. And the lint that accumulates in our hairbrushes isn’t regular lint. It’s a combination of other things, like those dust, dirt, and skin particles that we talked about earlier.

To clean the lint out of your hairbrush, follow the step-by-step guide above, but pay special attention to the scrubbing part. When your hairbrush is full of lint, the scrubbing stage is more of a necessity than an option.

Use your old toothbrush to give it a really good scrub and loosen out the accumulated lint. And give it an extra rinse when you’re done to get it all out.

How to Clean a Hairbrush Made of Wood

If you’re wondering how to clean a wooden hairbrush, we’ll cover that here. And thankfully, it’s not much harder than cleaning any other hairbrush. Plus, wooden hairbrushes tend to last longer, so it’s worth the extra effort.

Like a traditional brush filled with lint, cleaning a wooden hairbrush just takes a little extra care. We broke down the difference in the step-by-step guide above, but to simplify, let’s recap. If you’re cleaning a wooden hairbrush, the biggest difference is that you can’t submerge it.

Submerging a wooden hairbrush can alter the finish or even ruin the wood itself. Instead, dip the bristles in the soapy water. You can gently swish them around in the water or use a toothbrush to spot clean the particularly dirty areas.

When your brush is looking nice and clean, don’t rinse. Sprinkle a little water on it and wipe it dry with a clean cloth or towel instead. Following these extra steps will help keep your wooden hairbrush looking good and staying clean for longer. For more info on why we love using a wooden hair brush read this article.

How to Store Your Hairbrush

Once it’s nice and clean, you’ll want to keep it that way for as long as possible. We have some suggestions for that, too. After all, what good is all that effort if it just gets dirty again as soon as you’re done?

Hairbrush storage isn’t something that most people think about. But the proper storage can help keep your hairbrush clean, dry, and free from bacteria and other unwanted buildup. One of the best ways to store your hairbrush is to tuck it into a plastic shoe hanger.

Plastic shoe hangers that dangle on the inside of closet doors are excellent spots for storing beauty products and cleaning supplies. You can also attach a utensil holder to the inside of a bathroom cabinet or lie it down flat inside your medicine cabinet.

Each of these spots is less prone to dirt, dust, and lint accumulation than leaving it out in the open.

The EcoRoots Wooden Hairbrush and Hairbrush Cleaner

Did you know that traditional hairbrushes should be replaced every year? Depending on how much product you use daily, experts recommend replacing them every six months to a year. That’s not a very long shelf life.

Especially for something that may end up floating in the ocean or sitting on a pile in a landfill for a hundred years after you’re done with it. These are two of the primary factors that led to us choosing our wooden hairbrush and hairbrush cleaner. Properly cared for, our set can last for decades.

This gorgeous and handmade wooden hairbrush set is the perfect zero-waste alternative to plastic-based hairbrushes. Both the brush and brush cleaner are compostable. The natural rubber is recyclable, and the brush pins are made from compostable bamboo.

It is suitable for all hair types, vegan and cruelty-free, and always comes in plastic-free packaging. Strong and planet-friendly, our wooden brush gently detangles and smooths strands while gently massaging the scalp.

As a bonus benefit, the massaging bristles are not only relaxing but also improve blood circulation! This wooden hairbrush glides through your hair, promoting the secretion of natural and necessary oils, making your hair look healthier and softer.

At the same time, its bamboo bristles prevent static, which makes hair frizzy and more brittle. The ergonomically designed bamboo handle fits comfortably into your hand for a lightweight, portable tool and a firmer grip.

And it’s just as easy to use as any other hairbrush. Just brush vertically to detangle. Or brush horizontally to smooth or massage your scalp. When you’re done, use our brush cleaner to prevent hair and product from accumulating in the bristles. It’s that easy.

Building Better Beauty Habits with EcoRoots  

For the health of your hair, scalp, and skin, eco-friendly bath and beauty products simply make sense. And when something is better for you and the planet, there’s no downside! From bath and beauty to home and kitchen, we provide products you can be proud of.  

And we offer tons of tips, tricks, and information on our zero-waste blog page, too. Whether you’re here to shop or learn, we’re thrilled to have you on this journey with us!

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