How To Clean Your Hair Brushes And Combs

How To Clean Your Hair Brushes And Combs

Do you have the habit of cleaning your hair brushes and combs? How often do you do it? Are you ashamed to say it? Don’t be, this is something I too didn’t do before. I confess I used them months or years on end without ever thinking about it. Gross isn’t it?! I’m sure I’m not the only one as I have walked into the bathroom of friends and family and have seen brushes and combs laden with hairs. Well, today I thought why not give you a full step guide on how to clean your curly hair brushes and combs!? Are you up for it?




First of all, you may be thinking that the simple removal of trapped hairs is enough to clean your hair brushes and combs, and I understand the logic behind your thinking. The hairs are out and your tools look so much better already, right?! Yes, a quick look may tell you that, but the reality is your brushes and combs are not properly clean yet you need to sanitise them.


Dirty Hairbrush


Just as you clean your makeup brushes (I hope you do) to avoid clogged pores, bacterial growth and all, you need to clean you hair brushes and combs too. Your hair tools harbour a whole host of things in it and some are not good at all. Let me tell you, your tools  trap hair, dust, dirt, oils, product build-up, odours,  and they can even have mites. Just thinking about it and I get the urge to scratch my scalp, don’t you?


Additionally, if you have dandruff, a flaky scalp, and other scalp conditions it is a good idea to clean your tools every week or at least once a month. Just imagine the hairbrush you like so much, that has never been cleaned or very rarely so, sliding down your hair strands and depositing all the gunk in your hair and scalp. Yes, all the oils, dirt, dandruff, product build up… literally E-VE-RY-THING that is in your hair tools. I shiver just thinking about it (it’s a nasty picture up there, isn’t it?).


This is why many times your hair may lack shine and look limp. Or the reason why your tools may not perform as well as they did in the beginning (not to mention you could be growing something up there, yuck!). To avoid all this maybe we should go straight to the cleaning guide shall we?




For this, you can go as simple or as fancy as you want, but you will need some tools to help get the job done, after all if we’re cleaning we might as well do it properly. First of all,  you need something that will help you remove the hairs out of your tools, especially your brushes. You can use 1) a simple pen (as it’s pointy), 2) a hairbrush cleaner or a 3) Denman cleaning brush and 4) a scissor to help cut through the hairs (you’ll see why later).

Hairbrush cleaning tools


  • Start by using tools number 1, 2 or 3 to lift the hairs out of your hair brush. Start at the base of your brush and pull the hairs up. For a comb, just use your hands to remove all the hair, it quite easy you know. Oh, if you have a tail comb you can also it to lift the hair.
  • Now, grab your scissor and cut across the hairs. Using the scissor will make removing the hairs easier, but you can also pull them out with your hands.




Now, is when you get rid of all the dirt, dust, product build-up, oil and the whole lot. There are two ways you can go about this, you can soak your tools or you can clean them without soaking. My advice is if your hair tools are made out of hard plastic or metal soak them. If, however, they are made of wood, your brush has a rubber cushion and/or has natural or combination bristles I would not soak these tools  as you risk damage and short life span.


A wood tool, when soaked will enlarge, which will crack any varnish it has, can get mouldy stains, change colour or break with time. Tools with a rubber cushion and natural/combination bristles will tend to absorb cleaning products that will damage them over time. For this step, you’ll need 1) Warm Water, 2) a Washing Bowl or Spray Bottle, 3) a toothbrush or your Denman Cleaning Brush and 4) a Clarifying Shampoo, but you can also use dish soap or a vegetable soap and 5) a Toothbrush.

Cleaning Hair tools or brush

SOAKING METHOD (Plastic or Metal Tools)

  • Place the warm water in your washing bowl.
  • Pour some clarifying shampoo to make a soapy/foamy liquid to place your tools in. I like using a clarifying shampoo because it removes all dirt, oil and product build-up. Even if you’re not able to remove all your curly hairs, at least, they’ll be squicky clean. Alternatively, you can use dish soap, vegetable soap or a baby shampoo.
  • Place all your plastic and metal tools inside and let them rest for 5 minutes to soften all the gunk and any remaining hair.
  • Once the soaking time is over remove any residual hairs, grab your brush or comb and with a toothbrush or your Denman Cleaning Brush work to remove  all dirt, oil and hair products. Brush at the base of the brush/comb, around the bristles/comb teeth.
  • Rinse your tools under running water and let them rest while you prepare a  sanitising wash.


SWIRL METHOD (Wood, Rubber Cushion, Natural or Combination Bristles)

  • Prepare cleansing water as in the soaking method.
  • If you prefer using a more gentle shampoo that’s perfectly fine.
  • Grab your hair tool from the handle and swirl it in the soapy water, don’t immerse it! Dip it enough to have the bristles wet and do it for 1 to 2 minutes, if you leave it for too long the bristles will absorb the water in.
  • If you still have any trapped hairs remove them and then use your fingers, toothbrush or the Denman Cleaning Brush (yes, it’s very handy!) to “massage” the bristles facilitating the release of gunk.
  • Rinse bristles under running water or in a bowl with clean water (swirl).
  • Repeat if you think it’s necessary. Rest your comb or your brush face down on a towel and let it dry. It will take longer to dry than a plastic brush with synthetic bristles.



Step 3| SANITISING (Optional)

This step is totally up to you, but if you want to deeply clean and sanitise your tools you can add this step to your cleaning hair tools routine. Truth be told, it may me more relevant to your natural or combination bristles as they’re natural and may harbour bacteria more easily, but you can do it to all your tools. This step will help eliminate anything left on your combs and brushes. You’ll need 1) Water, 2) Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and, this is optional, 3) Sodium Bicarbonate. As you know ACV has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is used by many naturalistas on their natural hair regimen to clean and clarify their curly hair.

Sanitise Hair Tools

SOAKING (Plastic or Metal Tools)

  • In a washing bowl, mix warm water with 1 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 tsp. of sodium bicarbonate.
  • Immerse your tools and let them rest for 20 minutes.
  • Rinse under water and shake to remove excess water.
  • Rest your tool face down on a towel and let them dry.


SWIRL METHOD (Wood, Rubber Cushion, Natural or Combination Bristles)

  • Mix water with 1 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • Swirl your bristle brush in this water for a few minutes (don’t wet the rubber cushion).
  • Rinse under water massaging the bristles and shake to remove excess water.
  • Rest your brush face down on a towel until dry.
  • If you don’t like the smell of ACV, rinse (swirl) your tools on a bowl with water and a few drops of your preferred essential oil.




There many different ways you can go about cleaning your hair tools. This is how I believe it’s best. Some people don’t seem to make any differentiation between plastic, metal, wood, or other natural materials and cleanse them all together in the same solution or soaked them, other people like mixing the shampoo/soap with sodium bicarbonate or ACV, there’s even those who use anti-bacterial soap.


Although I believe the important thing is to clean your brushes and combs, if you want your tools to last, especially the ones made of natural ingredients, you need to care for them differently. Well, but that’s just me.


Wow, I feel so much better now, don’t you? All clean and fresh. This is how your tools will look and you’ll feel the difference when you use them. Try cleaning your brushes once a week, if you feel that’s too much and you know you won’t commit to that for too long then clean your brushes and combs once a month. I think that is pretty doable. Think of all the nasty little things that can grow on your pretty little head. You don’t want that, do you?


Mark it on your calendar, set a monthly alarm clock on your phone, mark it on your to do list but get it done. Seriously, girlfriend DO IT!


Do you clean your hair tools? How do you clean them?


Featured Image Credit: Dirty Hairbrush by m01229 on Flickr (license); Toothbrush by BillyBy on Flickr (license); Post image by Nicki Mannix (license).


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