How to clean hair brushes and combs

Like make up brushes, your hair brushes and combs should be cleaned on a regular basis – beyond just pulling out the stray hairs embedded into your brush. Did you know your hair brush traps dust, conditioner, oil, hair product (like dry shampoo) and other germs that you don’t want to think about? Just think, the dirtier your hair gets between washes, that dirt then gets transferred on to your hair brush. Kind of disgusting right?

Did you know that a clean brush, especially a round brush or the brush you use to blow your hair with, will allow you to get much more tension in the hair, allowing you to create better smoothness and shine during a blow dry?

But how do you clean your hair brushes properly? We asked some hair experts for their tips and tricks for making sure their most important tools stay clean.

How to clean hair brushes

Tips from Ali Holmes, ghd Hair Director


Cleaning paddle brushes

Water can get stuck under the cushion of a paddle brush so probably best not to run under water too often. If the brush is really dirty wash as above but allow plenty of time to dry. Most paddle brushes have a hole in them so try not to get water in the hole. Alternatively, you can use this hole to squeeze water out!

  1. To clean without using water, rub a round brush along the paddle brush to remove dust and hairs. If you do this regularly you will not need to wash with water resulting in trapped water.


Cleaning combs

  1. Remove loose hairs with your fingers then wash under warm water using shampoo. You may need to clean in between the teeth (sometimes combs gather dust) and a tooth brush is ideal for this.
  2. Rinse the shampoo under warm water and dry with the blow dryer.


Cleaning brushes (including round brushes)

  1. Use 2 brushes and rub them together to remove loose hairs. If you don’t have 2 brushes, use a wide tooth comb.
  2. Once all the loose hairs are removed, run the brush under warm water and gently shampoo.
  3. Rinse the shampoo off and blow dry to dry. If you have a wooden brush leave to dry naturally as drying too quickly can split the wood.

Easy right?

But what about if you’re hair brush is made from wood or plastic? I asked the man who I trust with cutting my hair, Barney Martin of Barney Martin Hairdressing & Pantene Ambassador on his tips for cleaning wood and plastic brushes.

Cleaning plastic and other non-wood brushes

  • To get rid of built up styling products simply place them in warm soapy water – then shake and tap them to get out as much water as you can and leave them on a towel until they are completely dry.

Cleaning wood or boar bristle brushes

  • If you have wooden or boar bristle brushes, you need to be extremely careful when cleaning them as the wood can get damaged if left in water. Instead use a damp cloth to wipe them down and treat them with care.

According to Barney, if you’re willing to splurge a little on the luxe-top-of-the-line hair brushes by Mason Pearson, they come with their own cleaning brush. Handy. But I have yet to be able to justify the price even though friends have told me they are amazing. One day.

How regularly should you clean your hair brushes?

I would time the cleaning of hair brushes to every fortnight – around the same time you should also be cleaning your make up brushes. It only takes a few minutes and then everything can dry together.

All brushes pictured are by ghd and were loaned to us for photography purposes.