How to Clean Your Hairbrush or Comb

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 25, 2021

Taking good care of your hair is essential for making it look its best. We wash and brush our hair regularly and style it to keep it looking healthy and well-kept. 

An important part of keeping your hair clean is to sanitize the tool you use to keep every hair in place – your hairbrush or comb. Your hairbrush or comb can get dirty quickly. They can be loaded with lint, oil, and hair. Cleaning your brush or comb may seem like a time-consuming chore, but it can be quick and painless.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to maintain a clean hairbrush or comb, which will help you to maintain a healthy scalp and hair.

Why Clean Your Hairbrush or Comb?

Lint is a common sight on the cushion of a hairbrush or teeth of a comb. But that’s not the only thing that can live there. 

A buildup of oils, dead skin, and hair products can usually be found on a hairbrush. It’s harder to maintain clean and shiny hair and a healthy scalp when your hairbrush is dirty. Hairbrushes and combs can get chock-full of hair, too. The average person loses 50-100 hairs every day. 

There’s no strict rule on how often you should clean your hairbrush or comb. But the more hair styling products you use, the more often you may want to clean it. 

It might also be time to clean your hairbrush when you see a buildup of debris on the brush cushion. Remove hair from the cushion daily. 

For combs, rinse it quickly after each use, then clean it thoroughly every few weeks.

Hairbrush Cleaning Tips

There are a few different ways to thoroughly clean your hairbrush or comb, so pick an option that works easily for you.  

You should choose a method based on what kind of brush you have. Hairbrushes with wooden or rubber handles can’t be left to soak in water and need an alternate cleaning method.

Before you start cleaning, take a second to remove the extra hair from your brush or comb. 

There are four ways you can make your hairbrush or comb sparkle like new. They all involve items you can find around your house. 

The sink soak:

  1. Fill your sink with warm water, and add about a teaspoon of non-medicated shampoo. 
  2. Mix the shampoo into the water with your hands until it’s evenly distributed throughout the water. 
  3. Leave your brush to soak for about half an hour. That’ll loosen the oils and debris that hides in the cracks and crevices. 
  4. Use an old toothbrush or another hairbrush to scrub the cushion to remove the oil and dirt. If you’re cleaning two brushes at once, you can scrub them together for a quick cleaning shortcut. 
  5. Rinse the brush or comb with lukewarm water, then leave out to air dry. 

The wooden or rubber brush method:

  1. Fill your sink with water, and create a cleaning solution using a teaspoon of shampoo. 
  2. Work the soap into the water until you can’t see any lumps. 
  3. Take an old toothbrush, dip it into the water, and lightly scrub the cushion of your hairbrush. 
  4. Rinse with lukewarm water, and leave to air dry. 

The vinegar or ammonia tactic: 

  1. Fill your sink or a bucket with either one part ammonia and four parts warm water, or one part vinegar to four parts water. 
  2. Leave your brush or comb to soak for about 10 minutes. 
  3. Give it a thorough rinse to flush out the cleaning solution. 
  4. Let it air dry, and you’re good to go. 

The machine clean: 

  1. Check that your hairbrush is made of sturdy material before you try this method. 
  2. Put your brush or comb in the top section of your dishwasher or washing machine. 
  3. Make sure to use the cold cycle. Too much hot water could change the shape of your hair styling tools. 
  4. If you use the washing machine, throw some other items in there too. Not only is it more eco-friendly, but it’ll muffle the sound of the brush banging inside the washing drum. 
  5. Hang your brush up to dry, or let it lie flat in a well-ventilated area. 

Show Sources


American Academy of Dermatology Association: “Do you have hair loss or hair shedding?”

How To Clean Stuff: “How to Clean a Hairbrush.”

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