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Cleaning Hair Brushes


You likely cleanse and condition your hair on a regular basis, but is your hair really clean? Well, that depends. Just like leftover makeup can clog your pores, styling products on your tools and brushes can affect the cleanliness and health of your hair. So if you’re not washing the hair brush that comes into contact with your strands everyday, it likely has build-up from months of use, harboring germs and bacteria (and preventing it from functioning properly). We’re telling you everything you need to know about hair brush hygiene ahead, including how often to do it and what to use to keep your hair brushes clean

Brushing Your Hair

Brushing your hair is an important part of any good routine. So in addition to the condition of your brush, the technique you use also affects the health of your strands. If you have straight or thin hair, never brush your hair when wet as it could break easily — only gently comb it out. If your hair is curly or textured, brushing it dry will cause frizz. In this case, brush it while wet and be very gentle. Brush your hair from the bottom. If you start at the very top, you’re more likely to cause tears and breakage. Be gentle and avoid over-handling it, as that can lead to breakage, tearing, and other problems — see our previous post for more on how to brush your hair properly. Now let’s take a look at the benefits of brushing your hair. They include:

  • INCREASING SHINE AND STRENGTH. The natural oils in your scalp are essential for hair health, keeping it shiny, nourished, and happy. One of the most important benefits of brushing your hair is that it helps to evenly distribute these oils from the roots to your ends, meaning way less dryness and breakage.
  • STIMULATING THE SCALP. When the brush bristles come in contact with your scalp, they act as a mini massage. This is a great feeling on its own, this action also helps to stimulate blood flow to your follicles, promoting hair health and growth. 
  • REMOVING LOOSE STRANDS. Shedding between 50 and 100 strands of hair per day is a normal part of the hair growth process. Brushing helps to expedite it, removing loose strands before they can clog pores.


Hair brush and Davines products

Importance of Cleaning a Hairbrush

Don’t underestimate the importance of a clean hair brush. Your hair brush contains product residue, bacteria, dirt and dead skin cells that accumulate daily; this gunk attaches to the bristles and every time you brush your hair you return it back to your scalp. Add to that weather, dust, mites, and natural oils that accumulate and the environment serves as a breeding ground for bacteria and other pathogens. This can cause irritation, swelling, certain types of dandruff, and even clog hair follicles. Similarly, sharing a hair brush with others (which is advised against) increases the chances of creating the buildup of germs and dirt from one person to another. This is especially significant in cases where an individual suffers from scalp conditions such as fungal infection, seborrheic dermatitis, and allergic reactions. 


How Often Should You Clean a Hairbrush?

You should be cleaning your hair brushes a minimum of once a week. But once you get to a point where you can no longer remove the buildup in the bristles, it’s time for a new brush. Typically, brushes need replacement when the bristles start to look melted and separated. Below is a breakdown of how to keep your brush clean, no matter what type you use.


A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning a Hairbrush

The steps for cleaning a hairbrush depend on what type of brush you are cleaning: brushes with synthetic bristles and handles are the easiest to clean, while natural-bristle or wooden-handled brushes require more careful attention. 


What to Have on Hand

  • Toothbrush 
  • Baking soda
  • Shampoo
  • Warm water
  •  Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Bathroom sink or large bowl
  • Tweezers
  • Towel


Hair Brush with Synthetic Bristles and Handle

These steps work well with all types of synthetic bristles and handles, including paddle brushes.

  1. REMOVE THE HAIR. Remove as much hair as possible from the bristles using tweezers or your fingers
  2. WASH THE BRUSH. Fill the bathroom sink or a large bowl with warm water. Add a generous squeeze of shampoo and swish the brush in the solution to create some suds.
  3. LET IT SOAK. Let the brush soak for 10 minutes before using a clean toothbrush to scrub between the rows of bristles and around the handle.
  4. SCRUB WITH BAKING SODA. Dip the damp toothbrush in some dry baking soda and continue scrubbing. The baking soda acts as a gentle abrasive to remove the gunk.
  5. RINSE THOROUGHLY. Rinse the brush well with warm water and shake out the excess water. Place it on a towel with the bristles down to dry.
  6. SANITIZE THE BRUSH. Mix equal parts isopropyl alcohol and water. Dip the brush in the solution and place it on a towel, bristles facing down, to air-dry.


Natural-Bristle Hair Brush

Natural-bristle hair brushes are more expensive, and generally considered the best quality.

  1. REMOVE THE HAIR. Remove as much hair as possible from the bristles using your fingers or tweezers.
  2. WASH THE BRISTLES. In a shallow bowl that is wide enough to submerge the bristles but not the handle, mix warm water and about one teaspoon of shampoo. Place the hairbrush over the bowl so that only the bristles are submerged. Allow the bristles to soak for 10 minutes. Remove the brush and use your hands to work the suds between the rows of bristles, getting down to the base.
  3. RINSE THE BRUSH. Quickly rinse the brush under warm running water and place the brush bristles-down on a towel to dry overnight.
  4. SANITIZE THE BRUSH. If you feel the brush needs to be sanitized, lightly spray with a disinfecting spray to kill bacteria. Do not use isopropyl alcohol, because it can dry out the natural bristles.


How to clean a hairbrush with a wooden handle

Hair Brush with a Wooden Handle 

A hair brush with a wooden handle can have synthetic, natural, or a mixture of bristles. Unlike plastic handles, wooden hair brushes should never be soaked in water. The water can cause the wood to deteriorate and the bristles to loosen. If the handle has excessive hair product buildup, dip a toothbrush in soapy water and lightly scrub to remove any residue. Wipe the handle with a clean towel and place it on a towel with the bristles down to air-dry.

How to Clean a Hair Brush with Lint 

After you remove the tangled hair from the bristles, you may notice bits of lint or dust stuck to the base of the brush. This can be difficult to remove because it’s mixed with scalp oils and product residue. If any lint remains after cleaning the type of bristles your hairbrush has, use a toothbrush to sweep out the lint from the base. Move both horizontally and vertically through the rows of bristles.Rinse well and allow the brush to air dry with the bristles down.


Best Products for Hair Loss

If you’re noticing more strands left behind in your hair brush than usual you may be losing your hair. Hair shedding is a part of everyday life, but if you’re losing clumps of hair at a time, have bald patches or receding hairline, you’re likely experiencing hair loss. Below is a list of the best products for hair loss from our Naturaltech Energizing line: they offer targeted solutions that act preventively against the loss of fine and fragile hair.


Davines Energizing family for hair loss

Energizing Shampoo

A balancing shampoo that cleanses the hair while stimulating the scalp for hair growth.

Energizing Seasonal Superactive

A regenerating lotion to counter hair loss caused by stressors and seasonal factors, makes hair stronger leaving it clean and light, with added thickness and body.

Energizing Superactive

A stimulating serum to counteract hair loss associated with hormonal factors.

Energizing Thickening Tonic

A thickening tonic for fragile scalps and hair with a tendency to fall out.


Energizing Gel

A treatment gel that stimulates new hair growth while reinforcing weak hair to prevent future breakage.


Final Thoughts on Hair Brushes

The more natural styling products you use, the less likely you'll experience that gunky buildup that's sometimes impossible to remove completely. If you absolutely hate cleaning your hair brushes, consider your product selection. All Davines products are free of harmful toxins and are made with renewable energy and packaging that minimizes the environmental impact. If you’re dealing with hair loss, try a Naturaltech Energizing treatment with one of our hair stylists at a salon near you. Our hair care isn’t just good for your hair, it’s good for the planet.


by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor

Stimulating shampoo for fragile, thin hair, or hair prone to falling out.


Revitalizing leave-in gel for fragile, thin hair, or hair prone to falling out.


Stimulating leave-in serum for fragile, thin hair, or hair prone to falling out.


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