From clean teeth to colorful walls, brushes are some of the most-used tools in your home. They’re so ingrained in daily life that cleaning them can get overlooked. And dirty brushes are more than just gross – they can be dangerous! Dirty toothbrushes have been linked to health problems including heart disease, stroke and arthritis.
Note: There’s more than one way to clean a brush, and these tips are by no means the end-all-be-all of brush cleaning. If you have a different method that works for you, stick with it!
Toothbrush. The American Dental Association recommends that you always keep your toothbrush covered or stored in a cabinet to keep it clean. Once a month, deep clean your brush by boiling it for three to five minutes. Regardless of how your toothbrush looks, replace it every four months. Note: If you use a toothbrush protector, make sure that your brush is completely dry before putting the protector over the bristles. Otherwise, the dampness could attract mold.
Hairbrush. A dirty brush can spread more than just grease – some skin diseases can move from one person to another by sharing a dirty brush. To clean a hairbrush, start by pulling out any hair that’s stuck in the bristles. Once most of the hair is out, wet the brush under hot water. Then apply a small amount of shampoo to the bristles and lather it (like you would your hair). This will make any remaining hair easier to remove, and also disinfect the brush. Tip: To make this job less painful next time, stretch a pair of pantyhose over the clean brush. When your brush needs to be cleaned, simply lift up and remove the pantyhose – all of the hair will come off, too!
Makeup brush. Keep your makeup brushes clean to prevent the spread of bacteria on your face (read: acne). To clean them, first hold the bristles under running water. Then fill a coffee mug or small bowl with warm water and a few drops of clarifying shampoo or mild dish detergent. Gently swirl the brushes in the soapy bowl until the residue is removed from the brushes (you may need to use your hands). Once all of the makeup is removed, rinse the remaining suds away under the faucet. Tip: If you have any oily residue on your brushes, dip them in a mild astringent.
Grill brush. Grill brushes are typically made from stainless steel or brass, which can make them difficult to clean. The best way to clean debris and grease from a wire brush is with a second wire brush. If you have two brushes, rub them together until they are both free of major debris. (If you don’t have two, you can bang the brush against a hard, flat surface until debris comes free.)
Then, fill a large bucket with water and a few squirts of mild dish soap. Place your brushes in the water and scrub them against each other while they’re submerged to get everything else off. If you’re only cleaning one brush, simply submerge it. Rinse the soap residue away with a garden hose, and let the brushes dry completely before using them again. Note: If your brushes are rusty, it’s time to replace them.
Paintbrush. Brushes should be cleaned before and after every paint project. To do this, fill an old saucepan with enough vinegar to cover the bristles. Soak the brushes in the vinegar for 30-60 minutes. Then, heat the vinegar on the stove until it’s boiling and remove from the heat. Let the brushes soak for another 30 minutes or so before removing to hand-wash them in cool water. Let them dry fully before using again.