M·Y·O Cosmetic Cases

How to Clean Makeup Brushes, Palettes and Bags the Safe and Effective Way

how to clean makeup brushes and makeup palettes

As makeup artists and beauty lovers, we can make a pretty mess in no time at all. But beyond tidying up, it’s so important that we take the time to regularly disinfect our makeup brushes, palettes and bags. Our beauty products go directly onto the skin (a highly absorbent organ!) on an almost-daily basis, as well as in and around our eyes and mouth (mucous membranes!). Makeup and brushes left unsanitized will quickly become a breeding ground for bacterial growth…yikes. The ugly truth is that it’s really easy to give yourself (or heavens forbid, your client) an infection if you don’t make a point to sanitize your makeup kit thoroughly on the regular.

With so many objects to disinfect (palettes, brushes, powders, cases, bags, creams, pencils, and more) it can be difficult to know if you’re sanitizing safely. Many alcohol-based disinfectants are super harsh and can cause your palettes, brushes and makeup to dry out and crack. You don’t want to use any disinfecting products that contain harsh chemicals that could irritate the eyes and skin—yet you want to be disinfecting thoroughly. If you feel overwhelmed by the tall and ever-important task of sanitizing your kit in this post-COVID era, don’t worry. In this article, we guide you through the best ways to clean makeup brushes, bags, palettes and more.

how to clean makeup brushes

How to Properly Clean Makeup Brushes

Hate to break it to you, but Frends Beauty recommends deep-cleaning your personal-use makeup brushes once per week. If you’re a professional makeup artist (we hope this goes without saying) you must clean your makeup brushes after every single use with a client. That’s a lot of cleaning! And we’re going to guess that for most non-pro makeup-wearing folks, you probably can’t remember the last time you cleaned your brushes. No judgement, but it’s a really good thing you’re here!

Regularly cleaning brushes will not only ensure a flawless makeup application—it will keep skin happy and healthy in the long run. Luxury Bridal Makeup Artist and Esthetician Mariana McGrath of Salt Spell Beauty recommends a few best practices for cleaning makeup brushes. 


Favorite Products to Clean Makeup Brushes

Beautyblender’s solid brush cleaner BlenderCleanser. It’s effective, has a light scent, and is gentler on brushes than alcohol-based cleansers. “For any stubborn products that harden in the brush and stain the bristles, like gel liners and red lipstick, I use Parian Spirit to cut through the product instantly,” says Mariana. Also use 70% alcohol to disinfect the brush handles, where germs and products can build up.


Best Practices for Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Wearing disposable gloves, gently scrub dirty makeup brushes against the rubber mat that comes with the Blendercleanser to remove any product. Keep applying soap and rinsing out the brushes with warm water until no residue or soap suds remain. To maintain the integrity of the brush, keep the brush hairs facing down while washing to control direction of the water, because the glue to adhere bristles is found in the metal part of the brush. Lastly, disinfect makeup brush handles with 70% alcohol and paper towels.

Best Practices for Drying Clean Makeup Brushes

When the brush is totally clean, gently squeeze (don’t wring!) the bristles with your hand or a paper towel. Reshape the brush bristles into their original form. Lay the makeup brush flat on a towel on the edge of a table, with the bristles hanging off. This detail is the most important! The brush hairs should NOT touch the towel itself, otherwise your freshly clean brushes will dry stinky and breed bacterial growth. 

Many people like to use a dish drying rack or hang clean brushes upside down (see this ingenious method from Depot Chopra). Whatever you do, Mariana says don’t sit them in a cup with the bristles upright to dry, because the water will drip down into the brush’s glue reserve and eventually loosen the bristles and ruin your brush.


how to sanitize makeup palettes

How to Clean Makeup Palettes Step-By-Step

Cleaning your makeup palettes will not only ensure you’re not caking bacteria onto the skin, but it will also leave you with a highly satisfied feeling. There’s nothing quite like a crisp, clean makeup palette — whether it’s for your own use, or you’re working on a makeup client. “Ultimately, the more clean you keep your kit, the better youll look as a makeup artist in the eyes of the people hiring you,” Mariana reminds us. “If your palettes are looking dusty, don’t be lazy. Take the shadows out and wipe everything down.” 

The Ultimate Product to Clean Makeup Palettes

Hands down, the best multi-purpose cleaner comes from Force of Nature. Using the power of electricity, Force of Nature supercharges just 3 ingredients—salt, water and vinegar—to create a nontoxic, powerful all-in-one cleaner, deodorizer, EPA registered sanitizer and disinfectant that kills 99.9% of germs (including COVID-19). It’s more powerful than bleach, yet entirely safe for humans as well as MYO Palettes. Force of Nature is a powerful, sustainable, affordable cleaning system built for people and planet. Check out the Force of Nature system here.


Our technique to clean makeup palettes is simple, but thorough:

  1. Start by covering your work surface with paper towels. Remove each individual pan makeup (eyeshadow, blush, pod, etc) from the palette and place onto the clean paper towel. 
  2. Spray BeautySoClean Cosmetic Sanitizer Mist directly onto the makeup. This disinfectant was formulated specifically for cosmetics, so it won’t dry out your powders or alter the formulation. Wipe the surface of all makeup with a clean paper towel. 
  3. Now for the empty palette: Remove makeup and dust from the palette, using Force of Nature Multi-Purpose Cleaner and a paper towel. Q-tips come in handy to get into the crevices. Parian Spirit is amazing for spot-cleaning any stubborn makeup. Once all makeup and dust has been removed, spray again with Force of Nature. Allow the product to air-dry to be fully disinfected, sanitized, deodorized, and ready to go. 
  4. Replace freshly sanitized makeup pans into the clean makeup palette, and admire your sparkling clean kit.


how to clean makeup bags

Yes, You Also Need to Clean Your Makeup Bag

We’ve covered cleaning makeup, palettes, and brushes, but of course the bags that house our makeup can also hold onto bacteria. And with these products being used so closely to our eyes, mouth and directly on the skin, it’s paramount that we sanitize our makeup bags as well. 

While makeup bags vary greatly in size and materials, so does the “washability”. Most personal-use canvas makeup bags can be thrown in the washing machine on a hot cycle to kill bacteria. However, many professional makeup bags come with foam dividers meant to protect our products, but wind up being impossible to fully disinfect. 

We love Bags For Makeup Lightweight Padded Bag for its easy-to-clean, genius design. It’s cushioned on the outside for protection, but the inside is lined with an insulated fabric that’s easy to wipe down AND protects your product from extreme temperatures. (Bonus points because this bag also looks like you borrowed it from the International Space Station.) This product was designed to be easily disinfected—and it just so happens to fit the MYO Companion Palettes perfectly. 

Keep your makeup sparkling clean and bacteria-free with the tips shared in this article! Follow us on Instagram for more makeup organization, downsizing and cleaning tips. Got questions? Drop them in the comments.