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Makeup brushes are essential tools in almost every makeup routine. They do everything from blending, smoothing, and buffing anything from foundation to bronzer onto the skin. And if you’re applying makeup daily—whether a full face or just a touch of it—that means your brushes are working hard.
Now, here's the no-so-fun part. Over time, your brushes and sponges become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, dead skin cells, oils, and dirt. All this buildup can begin to clog your pores and cause breakouts. Plus, dirty brushes don’t work as well as clean brushes do—makeup can end up looking streaky and uneven do to the gunky bristles. Grossed out yet? Don’t worry—it’s never too late to start getting your brushes in perfect shape.
From daily disinfecting to deep cleaning, we’ve rounded up the best makeup brush cleaners out there.
Best Budget: e.l.f. Daily Brush Cleaner
For a few bucks, you can have a brush cleaner wherever you go. Small, but mighty, you’re able to tote this spray almost anywhere, including your carry-on. The formula is gentle enough for everyday use, so if you’re a total clean freak, you can spritz this on at the end of each day. Just make sure your brushes are fully dry before using the next morning.
Best Drugstore: Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel
I’ve been using this cleanser gel for years. It’s convenient to purchase—find it at any drugstore—and it successfully gets the ick out of my brushes. It’s also free of alcohol and lathers quite nicely. Pair it with our favorite mats below for major cleaning power.
Best Electric: Hizek Makeup Brush Cleaner
Imagine a brush cleaner that literally does all the work for you. Well, your dreams have come to life. This ultra-cool and useful device is powered by a strong motor that literally spins your brushes into the cleaning solution for a maximum clean. Then, it spins it again outside of the bowl to get it dry. The best part? It does this all in 10 seconds.
Best for Sensitive Skin: EcoTools Makeup Brush Cleansing Shampoo
Fussy skin? Like your makeup or skincare products, the cleanser for your brush shouldn’t irritate your skin either. Which is why we love this brush cleansing shampoo from EcoTools. It’s dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic, and formulated with plant-derived ingredients, so it’s safe and gentle for even the most sensitive skin types.
Best Solid: Japonesque Solid Brush Cleanser
With ingredients like goat’s milk and coconut, this solid brush cleanser is a great alternative to its liquid counterparts. Simply swirl the bristles onto the actual product under running water and watch leftover makeup and residue go right down the drain.
Best for Sponges: Beauty Blender Instaclean Sponge and Brush Cleansing Spray
Need a clean sponge immediately? This waterless spray eliminates surface stains quickly, even in the middle of applying a full face of makeup. To refresh your sponge, spray onto the sponge until it’s completely saturated, then wipe onto a tissue or towel to remove makeup.
Best Mat: Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Mat
Transform your sink into the ultimate cleansing station. We love this large mat for when you have to clean every brush in your arsenal. With seven textures, it gets the grime out of all your brushes—whether it’s a dense contouring brush or a soft eyeshadow blender. Using your fave cleanser, swirl brushes into the mat and wash every speck of bacteria away.
Best Handheld Mat: Practk Palmat Makeup Brush Cleaner
Want the power of a mat, but would rather keep it compact? This handheld version is for you. Whether you’re right or left-handed, the adjustable strap is able to conform to any hand shape and size. Not only does it fit right in the palm of your hand, but it’s also got three textures to clean every type of brush.
Best Splurge: Tom Ford Brush Cleaner
Sure, this gorgeous bottle would elevate your vanity lineup, but it’s the formula inside that does all the work. It cleanses, disinfects, and conditions your makeup brushes for a smoother application and longer brush life. You need two sprays, one on either side of the brush, then tissue off, and air dry for up to two minutes.
Best for Powders: ANISA The Wash
This unique wash specifically targets powder-based makeup formulas, like pigmented blush or contour. With ingredients derived from amethyst and coconut, this foaming formula effectively gets rid of buildup, even deep within your brushes. Pro tip: Don’t add water until you’re ready to rinse your brushes off.
Best Alcohol-Free: Sephora Collection The Cleanse Daily Brush Cleaner
No alcohol means no drying and no irritation. We recommend spraying onto a towel, saturating it, and then running the head of the brush against that wet surface until it’s clean. This can be on both natural and synthetic bristles.