Can You Put Makeup Brushes In The Dishwasher?

By Cory White
Can You Put Makeup Brushes In The Dishwasher?

Are you tired of spending endless hours cleaning your makeup brushes? The dishwasher might seem like a convenient solution, but can you toss your beloved makeup brushes in it?

The question of whether you can put makeup brushes in the dishwasher is one that’s often asked, especially by those looking for a quick, efficient way to clean their beauty tools. A dishwasher can handle a multitude of items, it might seem, so why not makeup brushes? 

Well, while it’s technically possible to put makeup brushes in the dishwasher, it’s not recommended due to the risk of damaging the bristles and handles. Instead, makeup brushes are best cleaned using hand-washing methods that are gentle yet effective.

In this article, I will explore the potential benefits, risks, and expert tips,  crucial points such as the importance of cleaning these tools and recognizing when it’s time to replace them to ensure your brushes come out squeaky clean and perfectly preserved. Let’s get started! 

Why Clean Brushes Matter

a happy woman holding clean makeup brushes

Preserving the quality of makeup application and most importantly, maintaining good skin health are the two main reasons why cleaning brushes regularly matters.

Health Effects

Unclean brushes collect bacteria, dead skin cells, and oils, which when applied to the face, can provoke skin breakouts and acne. Dr. Debbie Palmer, a New York dermatologist, stated that leftover makeup on brushes can cause “irritation, infection, or an allergic reaction.”

Makeup Application

To achieve a seamless makeup look, your brushes need to be clean. Worn-out makeup or grime stuck in the bristles can disrupt the color, texture, and blending of the makeup. Hence, regular cleaning maintains the efficacy of the brushes, helping you attain that perfect look each time you apply makeup.

Dishwashing Makeup Brushes: Easy but Risky

empty dishwasher

While sliding your makeup brushes into the dishwasher alongside your dishes might seem like an easy route to cleanliness, it’s sadly accompanied by several risks that might compromise the integrity of your brushes.

High Heat Risk

The high temperatures within the dishwasher, ideal for dish sterilization, can destroy the delicate bristles of your brushes. Especially if they are made from natural materials, they risk warping or melting.

Handle Damage

The strong water force and heat that would normally clean and sanitize your plates and cutlery can end up warping or cracking the handle of your brushes, especially if they are wooden.

Structural Breakdown

Dishwashers use strong detergents, which could potentially dissolve the glue holding the bristles in place, leading to the shedding of bristles.

Steps to Safely Dishwashing Your Brushes

Should you decide to wash your brushes in the dishwasher despite the inherent risks, here are some key steps to mitigate potential damage:

  • Brush Positioning: Always position your brushes on the top rack of the dishwasher, where water pressure and heat are less intense. Make sure they can’t move around too much to prevent damage.
  • Use Mesh Bags: Consider putting makeup brushes in a mesh bag or dishwasher basket to keep them secure during the washing process.
  • Choose the Right Setting: Select the delicate or glass-care setting, if available, as it uses less heat and force.
  • Limit the Dishwashing Soap: Use less dishwashing detergent than usual to avoid intense chemicals from dissolving the glue holding the bristles together.

Alternatives: Manual Cleaning Methods

hand washing makeup brushes

If the risks of dishwashing brushes don’t appeal to you, fear not, there are effective alternatives for manual cleaning. These methods involve readily available household items as well as high-tech tools.

Basic Soap and Water

You can use mild soap or baby shampoo and warm water to clean your brushes. Swirl the bristles on the palm of your hand before rinsing thoroughly, ensuring all soap and makeup are gone.

High-Tech Cleaning Mat

For an advanced cleaning method, a silicone cleaning mat can work wonders. They come with various textures to ensure every bit of product is scrubbed out of the brushes.

Brush Cleaning Solution

There are also dedicated brush cleaning solutions that are gentle yet effective in removing makeup residues.

Drying Your Brushes Post-Cleaning

drying brushes

Drying your brushes post-cleaning is a pivotal step that ensures the longevity of the brushes, irrespective of the cleaning method used. Here’s how you can effectively do it.

Lay Flat to Dry. Always lay your brushes flat on a clean towel to dry. This method ensures water doesn’t seep into the handle which can damage the glue holding the bristles intact.”

Don’t Stand Up to Dry. Avoid standing your brushes upright to dry as this allows water to drip down into the handle, leading to potential damage.

Reshape While Wet. After washing and before drying, gently reshape the bristles with your fingers. This reformation will help your brushes maintain their original shape and function better when applying makeup.

Signs Your Brushes Need Replacing

dull  brushes

Despite the best cleaning and drying efforts, all makeup brushes will hit the endpoint of their usefulness eventually. Here’s how you can identify the signs that your brushes need replacing:

Shedding Bristles

If your brush routinely releases bristles during makeup application or cleaning, it might be nearing its end.

Loosening Handles

A noticeable wobble or even detachment of the ferrule (the metallic part connecting the handle and bristles) is also a clear sign.

Lackluster Makeup Application

Over time, brushes might not pick up or deposit makeup as evenly or efficiently as before, indicating they need replacement.

Final Tips and Considerations

As we wrap up this conversation, it’s important to keep in mind a few final tips and considerations about cleaning makeup brushes.

  • Cleaning Frequency: Ideally, you should aim to clean your makeup brushes once a week to maintain them in an optimal state. Brushes used for liquid or cream products may require more frequent cleaning due to product build-up.
  • Cleaning Gadgets: While manual cleaning methods are reliable, investing in dedicated brush cleaning gadgets can bring more efficiency and ease into the process.
  • Different Brush Types: The cleaning method might vary depending on the type of brush. For instance, brushes with natural bristles require more delicate care compared to those with synthetic ones.


In conclusion, although it’s possible to clean your makeup brushes in a dishwasher, it’s not the safest or most recommended technique due to potential damage to the bristles and handles. Instead, manually cleaning them with mild soap and water, dedicated brush cleaning solutions, or using high-tech cleaning mats is more appropriate. Remember, a little effort and diligent care can significantly preserve your precious makeup brushes, thus contributing to an enjoyable and hygienic makeup routine.

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