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10-Step Guide To Cleaning Makeup Brushes With Vinegar

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Skye Rhodes

How do you preserve your makeup brushes if not by cleaning makeup brushes with vinegar?

We all want to look beautiful and that is why we use these makeup products, whether they are expensive or not.

We simply adore the confidence that makeup gives us and how it gives us the mindset that we can achieve anything we set out to do.

But what about the cleaning nightmare that awaits us when we return home and what about the blush which appears on our face when someone asks us how often we clean our brushes because that’s hygienic and for our own good?


10-Step Guide To Cleaning Makeup Brushes With Vinegar

To prevent all of these, simply use the vinegar you keep in your kitchen and refresh your brushes, and now I will explain to you how to do it in 10 simple steps.

Step 1: Rinse, Rinse, Rinse!

The first step to perfectly clean brushes is to rinse them.

However, you should remember one very important thing – rinse your brushes with lukewarm water.

The lukewarm water melts down the piled-up makeup remains and enables you to easier clean them, and all of this while that same lukewarm water manages not to damage the bristles of the brush.

Cold water won’t have any effect, except that it can further harden the piled-up makeup.

This will make the task of cleaning the brushes, even more, harder by clotting the makeup between the bristles.

On the other hand, using very hot water can burn the bristles, leaving them damaged.

The bristles of the brushes are very delicate and very easy to damage, which means that if you are not careful with this cleaning phase, they can become dysfunctional and unusable.

Even the slightest amount of pressure in combination with the wrong hand movement can lead to damage of the bristles.

This will make them all fuzzy and not usable.

There are many ways in which you can damage your brushes, and this is just one possibility which we must eliminate.

And that’s why I will now tell you how to rinse your brushes correctly.

So, if we decide to wash them directly under running water, we should let the water flow along the length of the brush, i.e. from the end of the brush to its bristles.

Better still, you can also just put the bristles under the water, but once again you must have the water running down the bristles and not the other way around.

This is very important to preserve the lifespan of the makeup brushes.

Once you are done with the rinsing, the second stage of the first step follows.

Step 2: Brush Cleaning

For the second phase, you have two equally good options, you can use your palm or a silicone mat for brush cleaning.

In my opinion, the silicone mat for brush cleaning is a slightly better option because of a couple of reasons.

The biggest pro of this product is that the silicone mat has different textures on its surface and each of these textures has different cleaning functions.

The textures enable deep cleaning and break down layers of hardened makeup.

The silicone pad is not very expensive, it’s easy to use and what is more important- it’s easy to clean.

The texture of the silicone pad, along with the functionality of the vinegar method, is a combo that guarantees success and guarantees you that you can finally see the true colors of your brushes (and, not that brownish one you hate so much!).

But don’t worry if you don’t have this silicone tool at home because your palm can work just fine.

With lukewarm water, wet your palm or silicone mat and apply liquid or dishwashing soap on them.

Then, without huge pressure, rub the brush from your hand or silicone mat with light circular motions, to slowly begin to remove the hardened makeup products left in the brush.

Do this until you see that the hardened makeup on the brush is sufficiently decomposed and then rinse the brush again with lukewarm water until you notice that the water has become clear.

This step allows us to break down the layers of accumulated makeup products on the brushes we want to clean.

It’s indeed a good preparation that increases the efficiency of cleaning makeup brushes with vinegar.

Step 3: Disinfect

Disinfecting the makeup brushes is a very important step for many reasons, beginning from preventing the spread of dead skin and cells to preventing the spread of bacteria.

Over time, with constant usage, your makeup brushes absorb many types of bacteria and dead skin cells from your face.

If they are not cleaned properly, then the brushes can transmit those bacteria and dead skin cells on your face again.

This will complicate the process of applying makeup and it can even cause dermatological skin problems which are not very easy to treat.

First, these occurrences can damage the bristles and make them be directed all around the place which can lead to uneven application of the makeup, or the brush strokes can become visible and there will be streaky lines on your face.

Second, the accumulated combo of the bacteria and the dead skin cells can cause dermatological problems, such as:

  • Clogged pores
  • Rash
  • Broken out skin
  • Acne

This step is especially important for professional makeup artists who use their brushes to make up a large number of clients during the day, which means that their brushes touch countless faces.

This step is also important for all of those who are not professional makeup artists because we must admit it as something that normally happens.

Some of your family members or friends may borrow your brushes or sometimes during the day when your brushes are not in use, they are put in one place and different dust particles can stick to them.

We must all be aware that the hygiene of our brushes must be a top priority because as much as makeup can cover up your shortcomings, it can also cause dermatological problems that are not easily treatable.

Step 4: Create a mini solution

To start the disinfection process, take a small bowl or small jar in which you will have to dissolve a liquid solution made from one-third vinegar and two-thirds water.

Take your brushes and soak their bristles in the solution.

Then, without putting pressure on the brushes and pressing them against the walls of the container, make light circular motions with the brushes in the solution.

You should do this for about a minute.

And, can you guess what follows after this?

You are right, you’d have to rinse again, and with lukewarm water of course.

Once you’ve finished rinsing, place the brushes on a clean towel for them to dry a little bit while you prepare the solution for the great cleaning.

This phase is of utmost importance for those who have been using the brushes for a really long time and haven’t cleaned their brushes at all.

Skipping this step will decrease the chances of thorough cleaning of the brushes and it can mean that there will be possible makeup leftovers in the bristles.

Step 5: Prepare the Solution for the Main Cleaning

This is really the most important part of the vinegar cleansing procedure, so please pay very close attention.

Once again, take a jar or a very deep container in which you can leave the brushes in such a way that their bristles will be immersed in the solution that you will make.

This is very important because you will have to leave the brushes in the container for a longer time period.

To make the solution, and I mean make it efficient, you need to fill the bowl with lukewarm or hot water (but not that hot because as I’ve already told you- it can burn the bristles), one tablespoon of vinegar, and half a teaspoon of liquid soap or dishwashing liquid.

If you want to make a soap-free solution to clean your brushes, instead of liquid soap or dishwashing soap, you can also make it with two-thirds vinegar and one-third water.

The most important thing is that you must have vinegar as your main ingredient for creating this necessary solution.

Despite the rational fear that the brushes will come out smelling like vinegar, trust me- that’s not the case and in the other steps of this article I will explain to you why it’s like that.

Vinegar is a good natural cleanser that is made from acetic acid and that enables it also to kill bacteria naturally.

This is especially important because these brushes touch your face and you most definitely would not want to put additional chemicals that can irritate your skin.

Step 6: Swirl it all around

Take your makeup brush and with its bristles, place it in the already created vinegar solution.

Once again, bear in mind that you shouldn’t apply too much pressure and you shouldn’t press the brush’s bristles against the wall of the container you have chosen.

Once you’ve placed the brush in the solution, gently start swirling it around, just like a straw in a glass of drink.

In this step, you can see how the clean water slowly starts to get dirty, making the brush more and more new alike.

Swirl the brush in the solution until you see that there’s no more dirt coming out of it.

Place your brush on a paper towel and let it sit while you repeat this process with the other brushes.

This is very important because you must swirl one brush at a time.

Swirl, paper towel, swirl, and paper towel.

Step 7: Let’s Take a Vinegar Bath Together

Once you’ve swirled all of your brushes, grab them all together and put them inside of the container with the solution.

But it’s really important to create a new solution (one tablespoon of vinegar and half a teaspoon of liquid soap or dishwashing liquid) because putting them in the dirty one will do you no good- it can only make the already cleaned brushes dirty.

Let them sit there without touching them for about five to ten minutes.

Just make sure that they are positioned in a way that doesn’t damage the bristles, they should be all together and placed in the same direction.

This will ensure that every last piece of the piled-up makeup will dissolve and will be rinsed out.

Many people who try vinegar cleaning are worried that the vinegar will leave a smell in the bristles of the brushes.

But guess what?

You don’t have to worry about that.

First of all, that’s why the vinegar is dissolved either with liquid/dish soap or water.

The soap has its own smell which can overpower the smell of the vinegar, whilst the water dilutes the vinegar’s ingredients.

Second, the ninth step of this short cleaning tutorial ensures that none of the vinegar’s smell will be left out on the bristles.

That’s because the vinegar is a natural deodorizer which means that after the brushes are completely dry, the smell of the vinegar will evaporate by itself, leaving no trace of the strong smell you are all used to.

Step 8: Rinse Again

I know that you all must think that I’m repeating this one too many times, but you know what they say- repetition is the mother of learning.

So once again, place your wet brushes on a clean paper towel.

Take one brush at a time and rinse it with cold water.

Let the water slide down the bristle of the brush and pay attention to the water that falls in the sink.

Once the water is clear, it’s time to use your hand or the silicon mat again.

Without putting any additional cleaners, and under running water, start making a circular movement with the bristles while applying light pressure on your palm or your silicone mat.

When every drop of makeup is cleaned, rinse the brush once again and place it on a clean paper towel.

In this step, unlike in the others, you are to use cold water.

Cold water is recommended because we want to have the bristles of the brushes hardened so we can reshape them if it’s necessary.

When you use your brushes, over time they can lose their primary shape and some of the bristles can lose their desired direction and can stand out from the rest of the bristles.

By applying light pressure and squeezing the bristles together, you can help them to stand together.

You know what they say- together we stand, divided we fall.

Step 10: Dry the brushes overnight

Once you have placed the cleaned brushes on a clean paper towel, grab another one, and use it to lightly squeeze the remaining water between the bristles.

This is to ensure that there are no big drops of water stuck in between the bristles because they will not dry out completely by themselves and the final result will be moist brushes which can destroy the powdered makeup.

And then, once again, gently with your hand, reshape the bristles of the brush just in case some of them are still displaced and bent.

Place the brushes on a clean paper towel and let them sit overnight.

You mustn’t use any tools for heat drying the brushes- like a blow dryer, microwave, or anything that is heat-based.

Just let them sit overnight and this way, you can be certain that the brushes will dry naturally, avoiding any heat damage.

And as I’ve told you previously, with the long process of drying (overnight) you create a timeframe in which the vinegar will have time to turn on its role as a natural deodorizer and will evaporate by itself, leaving no trace of the strong smell.

And ta-da!

Your makeup brushes are clean and ready to use again.

I told you that this vinegar method is easy, doesn’t require any additional efforts or purchase of special cleaning agents, didn’t I?

Once they are completely dry, you can go ahead and use them.

The fresh smell and their clean appearance can take you to memory lane when you first bought them and unpacked them.

With your clean brushes, you can recreate the happiness you first had with them.

Surely this is also a bit more economical because with this way of cleaning you will not have to replace your brushes with new ones just because you couldn’t clean them.

I’m also pretty sure that once you see how clean they are and how clean they look- you will never neglect cleaning them again and you will look forward to the two-week cleaning appointment.

Problems that Come with Applying Makeup

We all finish doing our makeup and go straight to beginning our day or go straight to that Friday night party we’ve been preparing for.

After doing this, for a couple of hours, we forget about the piles of dirty brushes that we never seem to clean and make them look new or like the ones we bought from the store.

We constantly see brush cleaning products that are either too expensive or pure fantasy and non-functional, leaving us with the impression that we will never see our brushes clean again.

Sometimes, this can demotivate you leaving you thinking that you are helpless and that you only have two options- to continue using the dirty brushes or to buy new ones.

However, you can restore those brushes to their original state by simply cleaning makeup brushes with vinegar.

Following this guide will greatly help.

Summary of the Cleaning Process

Once you see how easy the vinegar cleaning method is, you will realize that it’s not worth it to blush in front of your friends when they ask you when was the last time you cleaned your brushes.

This method of cleaning your makeup brushes can extend their lifespan and can protect you from not so esthetic application of your makeup, or it can even protect you from numerous bacteria and dust particles.

The vinegar method is definitely one of the most efficient ways in which you can clean your brushes at home, with ingredients that you surely already own.

Well, I think that we all must admit that we don’t clean our brushes this often, even though they touch our faces every day, even multiple times a day, but don’t worry, I’ve got your back.

The vinegar cleaning method is very effective, economic and most importantly- it’s not time-consuming.

Try this method and I guarantee you that your brushes will be perfectly clean.

All you have to do is:

  • Rinse
  • Brush clean
  • Disinfect
  • Dip in solution
  • Swirl
  • Rinse
  • Dry
  • Repeat every two weeks

Final Thoughts

After cleaning makeup brushes with vinegar, they will look like they’re brand new.

You will save money on not buying specialized cleaning agents and on not buying new brushes every month.

Half an hour of cleaning the brushes and letting them dry overnight surely’s not time-consuming.

You all have to have this method in mind, especially because experts suggest that we should clean our brushes at least once in two weeks, and once you see your brushes so clean, I’m pretty sure that you will want to use the vinegar method more frequently than two weeks.

Cleaning your brushes is fun and very satisfying.

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