Stop Wasting Money- DIY Brush Cleaner | xSparkage

Stop Wasting Money- DIY Brush Cleaner

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I hate cleaning brushes. Despiiiiise. I’m the worst at keeping up with it. I’ll do my makeup, throw my used brushes into a container, and forget about them.. until I am out of brushes entirely, and have about 500 that i need to wash all at once. It also doesn’t help that when I do tutorials, I usually do the prep eye (that isn’t done on camera) in my room so I can watch TV while I play around with colors, and then forget the brushes in there when I go to film.. aka, double the brushes for one look. I suck!

Needless to say, I go through brush cleaner, FAST. The one I’ve used for years is MAC’s, and it’s fine, just expensive when you are constantly going through it. A few months ago, I finally thought “there HAS to be a DIY brush cleaner recipe out there, there just has to!”

FYI- whenever you think something along those lines in terms of makeup, Enkore is usually the answer. 95% of the time.

Koren has a video up that he made years and years ago (2007!) that is so easy, and I can almost guarantee you have all of these ingredients on hand, right now. It’s just SO simple, and if you’re like me and go through brush cleanser like it’s your job, the recipe is cake to double, triple, quadruple.. :)


The recipe shown below is me doubling the original recipe, and I was able to fill two old 8oz brush cleaning bottles, along with my little spray bottle I keep around for spot cleaning.



What you need:

2 Cups Distilled Water I just used filtered
1/2 Cup Isopropyl Alcohol The Higher the alcohol content, the cleaner the brushes. I use 91%
1TBS Dishwashing Liquid
1 TBS Clear Shampoo I recommend using baby shampoo if possible. I didn’t have any, so I opted for some hotel shampoo I had
2 TBS Leave-In Conditioning Spray

Mix it all together (Easiest in a bowl or cup with a spout, so you can pour it into your container) and viola! Done. This costs you pennies and gets enough brush cleanser to last quite some time. I highly recommend trying it out, and never waste $10 bucks on a cup of brush cleaner again!





  1. Gabi

    March 31, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    I think i’ll try this later :) Thanks!

  2. brooke

    March 31, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    so i guess for me the question is: how often do i really need to clean my brushes? they are all only personal use and mac (i’m sure quality maybe plays into the question)… and what happens if you don’t clean them x often?

    • xsparkage

      March 31, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      It’s not really a quality thing moreso that its a hygiene thing. your brushes touch your face, which grabs any oil and dirt and bacteria on your face. If you’re not washing them often, that bacteria and oil and dirt are just going to multiply, and can eventually be the reason for breakouts, clogged pores, etc. A clean brush is a happy brush! If you’re like me and don’t like to clean brushes, Getting a small sprayer like I have is an easy, quick fix. Spray on the brush, wipe dry on a tissue or a washcloth, and done!

    • barb

      April 1, 2012 at 2:43 am

      if you dont clean them you leave gross bacteria and oils on them..

  3. Sarah

    March 31, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Thanks Leesha! I started out just cleaning mine with mild hand soap, then switched to baby shampoo, and I’ve used that for years. I’ve always wanted to try a brush cleaner, but I have too many for how much most of them cost! Do you just shake it to mix?

    • xsparkage

      March 31, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      yup, just mix :)

  4. Courtney Michelle Goins

    March 31, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    ive tried this and it makes my brushes stay oily and also any tips for washing foundation out of my sigmax kabuki brushes i find it really gets stuck in them

    • xsparkage

      March 31, 2012 at 10:04 pm

      For the sigmax brushes you really have to submerge them in the cleaner to get the foundation out. I use a small bowl with cleaner in it and swirl the brush around, and press it down on the bottom of the bowl to separate the brushes a bit more. you can also hand clean with baby shampoo and just work the shampoo in with your fingers

    • Heather Kelley

      April 1, 2012 at 12:00 am

       I use 91% rubbing alcohol on all my synthetic brushes. Especially the ones that have foundation on them. I pour the alcohol in a small bowl and swirl the brush around in it. I usually have to dump the alcohol out and repeat it a few times but my brushes have never been cleaner plus they are sanitized. I have done this with my sigmax brushes a million times and I have had no problems. I learned this from gossmakeupartist. I hope this helps.

    • Plano TX

      March 11, 2015 at 9:01 am

      I agree- I tried this recipe and my brushes didn’t clean very well and they seem to have oil and makeup residue. I think this recipe would work great if the proportion of soap and shampoo is modified to 10 times more than specified.

  5. Klaudea Li

    March 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Why not just do the olive oil + antibacterial dish liquid method? Super easy I do 2 parts dish liquid and 1 part olive oil (to condition) no mixing just make when needed and it’s SO GOOD for cutting grease and killing bacteria.

    I use this for paint brushes too.

    • xsparkage

      April 1, 2012 at 12:09 am

       This is a good option for reaaally dirty brushes, or brushes that have a wax based product on them (like lip products)! I like using the cleaner above for more general use, because you dont have to rinse it out like you would with the olive oil/dish liquid method. I’m lazy, so being able to dip, swish, and dry and be done is perfect for me! :)

      • TKB

        April 11, 2012 at 1:03 am

        I feel the olive oil method leaves a oily film on my brushes and takes a while to wash out esp on the sigmax brushes. I used the above solution for deep cleaning by dipping my brush in a little bit of solution and swirling in my hand. Then washing under water. It gets them so clean. This method is so cost effective that I don’t mind using it freely. Thanks so much for posting the info!

  6. Lily

    March 31, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    All I do is put a little hand soap in my hand, wet the brush and swirl it in the soap in my hand. I also find washing brushes meditative – like dishwashing. :D

    • Lily

      March 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm

      Then run the brush under running water to get the soap out of course! And then dry off on a towel.

      • Kay

        April 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm


    • xsparkage

      March 31, 2012 at 11:46 pm

       The only issue with that is that the brush isnt getting any conditioning. If youre using real hair brushes, you have to think of it like your own hair- if you only shampooed your hair, it most likely feels dry and not soft and shiney. Thats why I like this brush cleaner recipe- your brush is getting sanitized, cleaned, and conditioned at once :)

  7. Michelle Simmons

    March 31, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    So going to try this. Thanks!

  8. Mireilles

    April 1, 2012 at 1:23 am

     Do we have to rinse it after using it ?!

    • xsparkage

      April 1, 2012 at 2:24 am

      nope! the water dillutes it, so its cleaned without having to rinse.

  9. Phyrra

    April 1, 2012 at 4:58 am

    I’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s soap to clean my brushes, but I really think I need to give this DIY cleaner a try! I’d been wondering about using alcohol to clean since it means no drying time, right? You just spray and wipe?

    • kari

      July 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm

       I’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s too, but since I use the unscented kind, it makes my brushes smell weird afterwards. Thinking of using this recipe, but using Dr. Bronner’s in place of the baby shampoo – hopefully the scent of the alcohol and the conditioner will mask the faint weird smell unscented Dr. B’s has

  10. Samantha Fizzard

    April 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    What can you do to prevent staining? I’ve got all my brushes cleaned and looking fine, but no matter what, the white fibers in my duo-fiber brush stay pink-ish from my blush.

  11. anita22

    April 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I’ve made my own brush cleaner for years and my brushes are all in great condition. I use a different recipe though – 4 parts isopropyl alcohol to 1 part leave-in conditioner. It dries pretty quickly, but is not too drying on the bristles.

  12. msdoctor

    April 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I just use Johnson’s No More Tears baby shampoo and conditioner, and every few washes I use my normal hair conditioner on them, leave it on for a couple of mins, then rinse. It works really well and they smell like blueberries from the shampoo!

  13. MsBeautygirl007

    April 1, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    This sounds great for regular everyday cleaning.  I can’t wait to make it, I will feel like a chemist.

  14. Melody

    April 2, 2012 at 4:25 am

    I love Koren’s channel!  I started making my own brush cleaner too.  I tend to just use alcohol and baby shampoo because I’m afraid the conditioner will leave a residue but I think I’ll try it.

  15. Samantha Dancey

    April 2, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    is it ok to just use shampoo?

  16. Genevieve Rodriguez

    April 3, 2012 at 12:22 am

    a deep cleaning system is using olive oil and dishwashing liquid. ive never seen my brushes so clean!

  17. Stephanie van Kempen

    April 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Enkore is always the awnser. I made my first diy brush cleanser a couple months ago and I’m not going back to any expensive ones.

  18. Emma Pascoe

    April 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    I HATE washing brushes too. I don’t do it nearly as often as I should. I just use baby shampoo though.

  19. Angela

    April 3, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I use to clean my brushes with cleansing wipes, is it bad ?

  20. Vhew199

    April 4, 2012 at 2:32 am

    One of my friends uses the same hair revitalizing shampoo that she uses to wash her hair. It’s all natural and from Lush. I use a honey and rose based soap to clean mine. The ingredients in the soap are naturally antibacterial and they also keep the bristles of my brushes nice and soft. 

  21. Sofia Mahan

    April 4, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    It is incredibly difficult to get hold of rubbing alcohol in Norway. Can I substitute it with nail polish remover?

    • Karen

      April 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      No, You’ll kill your brushes! Nailpolish remover is ethanol, way too stong.

    • Futuralon

      April 10, 2012 at 2:41 am

      Nail polish remover is usually acetone, so no. It’ll strip paint and there’s no way that’s good for hair and will probably ruin synthetic hair.

    • Murielle

      April 14, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      You may use other types of disinfectant alcohol, such as Antibac 85% (liquid, not gel) or similar products. They sell them at regular pharmacies.

  22. Kittengrin

    April 7, 2012 at 3:28 am

    Will this dry quickly enough to be able to use a brush again almost immediately, or do I need to make sure I have time to let the brush dry first?  

  23. Amy

    April 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    This recipe is amazing. I’ve been using it for a few months, but I also add a few drops of Tea Tree Oil for an added antibacterial. Even if you use this cleanser, you still should deep clean, ie wash, your brushes at *least* once a month (I admit, I don’t always…), especially cream and foundation brushes. Deep cleaning can be done with a mild soap or shampoo. I find that this DIY cleanser is also very efficient at removing stains from light colored brushes. As far as dry time, I can’t use the brush immediately, but it’s dry within an hour, even fluffy brushes (just shake out vigorously), but I’ll just spray a bit of alcohol on it if I need it within a few minutes. Clean brushes also prevent bacteria from accumulating in makeup pans, extending usage.

  24. Bobbie

    May 9, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    I’m so glad you posted this! I was actually thinking about trying the MAC brush cleanser, but coming from you that this works great, not anymore! THANKS! :D

  25. Michelle

    May 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Will Detangler work in place of leave in conditioner?

    • Gunnvor Valkyrie

      December 22, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      I would just condition the brushes after washing them.

  26. Melissa G

    June 9, 2012 at 2:40 am

    Going to make this tomorrow thanks so much!

  27. Anja Christianson

    July 25, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Is there a way to give them also a good smell? I use the MAC cleaner currently and want something that smells a little better? If I use the recipe above can I somehow add something or substitute for smell ?
    Thank you!! :)

    • Monica

      October 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      You could try a couple drops of organic lavender, orange, peppermint oil or some other botanical oil?

      • Lillybeth Melmoth

        July 14, 2013 at 7:21 pm

        Umm, I wouldn’t recommend it! All those you listed are potentially irritating for skin (as it alcohol) so maybe a different essential oil…

  28. girlonfire

    October 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I’m in esthetics school and my instructor was a MAC instructor for years. She told us to mix I think 1/4 of MAC brush cleaner with 3/4 distilled water in a spray bottle to make it last longer.

  29. Andrea

    November 12, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    How do you resolve the separation of the leave-in conditioner from the rest of the cleaner????

  30. Chara

    December 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    This is great!! Thank you.. But how many milliliters in a cup ?

  31. Paula Silverio

    December 16, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Is there a way to make this spot cleaner without using rubbing alcohol?

  32. Mélanie Croisetière

    March 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    how you use the product???? are you only just spray on your brush and wipe on a tissu?

  33. Mélanie Croisetière

    March 18, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    xsparkage, on your text you write ”VIOLA”, it is not writing like that; it is write: ”VOILA” in french…. :0) have a nice day!

  34. Bexie

    September 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    I usually clean my brushes with a moisturising anti-bacterial handwash. That way it gets the make up out, kills bacteria, and doesn’t dry them out. I’ll probably make some of this for quicker spot cleans, though – I had to buy some rubbing alcohol to remove the old thermal paste from my PC when I was replacing it and I only needed a little on a cotton pad for that, so I have pretty much an entire big bottle of the stuff just sitting there. Might as well use it xD

    I also use the rubbing alcohol to clean the inside of my makeup bag. I just have a basic plasticy bag and if I have to put dirty brushes back in it, then it all rubs off on the sides, and then if I put the clean brushes back in they just get all the bacteria back on them again. So I just put a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad and wipe round the inside of my makeup bag – it does get REALLY dirty sometimes!

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  36. Zeze

    July 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I only had one of those five ingredients. :/ untrustable guarentee.

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  38. Ashley

    April 20, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Hey Leesha do you still use this or do u just buy brush cleaner again? or is there something else you do to spot clean?

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