You wouldn’t dream of forgetting to clean your makeup brushes, but what about your hair brushes? Most of us will periodically remove the hair that collects between the bristles the same way we dutifully clean out the lint trap in the dryer, but what about sanitizing them? What about cleaning oil from the bristles, which can cause rubber deterioration? What about dead skin cells?
It may seem like overkill, but a sanitized brush can help keep your hair shiny and clean that much longer. But don’t just throw your plastic brushes in boiling water and call it a day—warping or melting can occur. And if you’ve shelled out almost $200 for your Mason Pearson, you’re going to want something a little gentler than a bleach shower.
Hair salons and barbershops swear by Barbicide, the blue solution you see combs and brushes soaking in on the counter. The salon staple has been around since the 1940s, and luckily it’s available at any beauty supply store. The antiseptic uses a combination of isopropyl alcohol, sodium nitrite, benzyl ammonium chloride, and water to disinfect, and can kill surface germs, fungi, and viruses. To make your own DIY hair brush cleaner at home, mix one cup vinegar and three cups of hot water in a bowl. Remove all excess hair from your comb or plastic brush, and let the tools soak for 20 minutes.
It’s fine to use Barbicide or vinegar on plastic, but brushes with natural bristles and rubber pads caution not to use alcohol or oils, which can compromise the rubber. Some tools come with a special cleaning brush that sloughs off any residue on the bristles, but a toothpick and toothbrush can work just as well for dry brushing and scrubbing. Fill a bowl full of lukewarm water and soap (either dish soap or hand soap should work), dip your cleaning brush or toothbrush into the water, and softly scrub the hair brush, including the rubber. Since water can get trapped beneath the rubber, remember not to dip the tool in.