How to Clean Hairbrushes and Combs Properly

Our hair is subject to wear and tear each day. So, we need to look after it as best we can. Something you may not consider as often is the cleanliness of hairbrushes and combs. This is such a crucial part of your haircare routine, but it is commonly forgotten about or ignored.

Maybe you wash your hair daily, have regular appointments with your stylist or hairdresser to get it cut and colored. Regardless, you still need to ensure that your hair tools are regularly cleaned to avoid infection and the build-up of dirt, hair, and debris.

Table of Contents:

Looking After Your Brushes and Combs Correctly

Below are some tried-and-tested methods for getting your brushes and combs sparkling clean:

  • Vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Ammonia
  • Toothbrush

Imagine that you’ve just finished washing your hair and it’s all nice and squeaky clean. Then, naturally, you get your brush or comb that you’ve used many times before on your unwashed (and sometimes dirty) hair and then use it on your freshly cleaned hair.

This kind of situation could be avoided. A dirty hairbrush or comb is not good and shouldn’t be used on clean hair as it can spread harmful bacteria and make your hair dirty again.

How to Clean your Hair Care Tools

Before you try out any hair brush cleaning methods, it’s essential that you first remove the excess hair from them. It’s highly recommended that you do this in a bathroom rather than the kitchen. This is common sense as the kitchen is mainly used for cooking food and loose hair can get into food easily, which is very unhygienic.

Remove all the hair with your fingers. If this is proving difficult, use a finer implement such as a toothpick or needle. If you’re struggling to get all of the hair out, you want to wet the hairbrush with lukewarm water. This will soften the hair and make it easier to remove.

With this in mind, it’s often recommended that you soak your hairbrush or comb in warm water beforehand as this can loosen the debris, making them easier to clean.

Dirty brushes can become more rough and dry as they are caked with product debris and sebum from your scalp. This can severely irritate your skin. Therefore, cleaning your brushes regularly keeps them soft enough not to cause damage to your head and prevents them from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria.

Vinegar Solution

The high acidity of vinegar means that it’s a useful liquid for cleaning many items. It’s crucial to note that you may want to consider wearing gloves when using any of the advised cleaning methods. This will protect your hands from any sensitivity.

Here are some easy-to-follow directions:

  1. Pour half a cup of vinegar into half a cup of warm water.
  2. Place your brush or comb into the cup to soak for around half an hour.
  3. Repeat the measurements and steep each brush and comb until they’re clean.

You need to use plain vinegar. Try and avoid malt vinegar and other types as they may not be acidic.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is an excellent way to clean haircare tools.

Here is a quick guide:

  1. Mix together two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with one tablespoon of dish soap in a cup.
  2. Dilute the mixture by filling the rest of the measuring cup with hot water.
  3. Mix the liquid together and then place your brushes in the cup (one at a time) and allow them to soak for ten minutes.
  4. Once the brushes have soaked in the mix, rinse them with cold water, let them dry, and voila, they’re ready to use.

What do you soak hair brushes in?

Baking Soda

Much like the above cleaning methods, baking soda can also be excellent for cleaning brushes and combs. There are a couple of techniques that can be successful.

  • Try mixing a half cup of baking soda and half a cup of warm water. This will form a paste which you can then soak your comb or brush in. This process will take around 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Alternatively, mix baking soda and warm water and follow the steps as above. This method is less acidic and more natural so is the favored choice for many.


When using ammonia to clean, you should mix it with warm water. Ensure that the water isn’t so hot that you burn yourself or even melt your brush. Let your brush soak in the solution for about 10 minutes. Try and avoid doing it for longer as this can melt the fibers in your brush.

Once the process is complete, if you don’t want to pour vinegar or ammonia into your sink, you can soak your brush in a bucket or other portable container and dispose of it accordingly.

  • Important: Take care when cleaning with ammonia as it’s a potent substance. Make sure you use gloves and don’t get any on your skin as it can cause severe burns. If you do, seek medical assistance.


Sometimes, the easiest way to get the nitty gritty bits or hair and dirt out of your brush or comb can be to use a toothbrush. It’s just a smaller version of a brush but can work wonders in getting the excess dirt and grime out.

Any cheap toothbrush will suffice – all it needs to do is get to the hard-to-reach areas of your comb or brush. It can sometimes help to steep your hair care tool before you use a toothbrush as this will loosen the debris.

You can also clean smaller brushes and combs with a toothbrush. If you’re looking to conduct a hard clean, you should buy a toothbrush that’s ‘hard’ as opposed to ‘soft’ or ‘medium.’ A hard toothbrush can make it much easier to get the job done.

How do you sanitize hair brushes?

Clean the Brush Handle

It’s all very well cleaning the pad and bristles of your hairbrush, but it’s also advisable to give the handle a good clean. This is a useful procedure as it prevents the spread of germs.

It can be quick to do – rinse it in soapy water and dry it off with a towel. It can be good to clean the handle of the brush more regularly than the pad and bristles as there can be more product debris on the brush handle.

Cleaning Different Types of Brushes and Combs

All brushes can be washed and sterilized in the same way.

The different types of hairbrushes included, but are not limited to:

  • Round hairbrushes
  • Wooden hairbrushes
  • Boar bristle hair brushes
  • Styling combs
  • Backcombing tools

When it comes to nit combs and fine-toothed combs, these are best sterilized in acidic substances such as vinegar or a special liquid that ensures all the ‘beasties’ are removed effectively.

Some brushes are easier to clean than others. For example, a new style of brush has been introduced that comes apart, making it easier to get into the nooks and crannies and target the dirt and debris.

How to Remove Dandruff from a Hairbrush or Comb

Dandruff is a common complaint and causes the scalp to flake and may cause visible flakes on clothing or in the hair. In most cases, dandruff is caused by fungal infection of the scalp. Dry scalp, by contrast, occurs when the scalp does not produce enough moisture.

Because dandruff causes your scalp to flake, it’s common for loose skin to end up on your comb or brush. If this happens, it can be difficult to remove it. However, there is a solution.

Here is how to clean dandruff from a comb:

  1. Buy a cheap disposable toothbrush and dip it in warm soapy water.
  2. Use the toothbrush to gently scrub the bristles and hairbrush pad of your brush or comb.
  3. Then, rinse the hairbrush in the bowl of clean water to wash away any soapy residue.
  4. Shake the excess water from the hairbrush and leave it to dry.

This should successfully remove dandruff from your brush easily and effectively.

how to disinfect hair brushes after lice

My Hair Brush Smells Bad – What Should I Do?

Keep your hair car tools clean to keep hygienic.  Your hairbrush and combs are a hub of germs caused by a build-up of hair products, oil, dead skin and old hair.

While it may not seem like a big deal, a clean brush can improve the way you style your hair and also keep germs at bay.

Many people may notice over time that their hairbrush starts to smell weird. However, there is no need to throw it out. By following the above steps (see the previous section), you can eradicate the build-up of debris and bad smells.

Once you’ve effectively cleaned your brushes and combs, spritz your brush with one of your favorite perfumes or body sprays. This can help get rid of any bad odors and can also help to make your hair smell good.

Bonus Hair Care Tips

Throw away pieces or clumps of hair that become stuck in your brushes and combs. These can support the build-up of oil on your scalp, and this can damage your hair. Additionally, the build-up of gunk on your brush can even cause common conditions such as dandruff.

A top tip is to remove excess hair from your hairbrushes and combs after each brushing. Also, always clean your hairbrushes and combs gently, so bristles don’t break off.

Avoid using your finger as it can be painful to get pinned in the finger by a bristle or even worse if it were to get under a fingernail.

When it comes to the maintenance of your hair and hair care tools, it’s vital to carry the cleaning out (as instructed) to avoid any damage. If well looked after, a hairbrush will last a long time. However, if it’s not salvageable, it’s worth replacing it to avoid any problems.

Looking After Your Hair

Just like any other part of your body, the scalp and your hair can be sensitive. Your body is unique and reacts to a variety of environmental pressures such as stress, hormones and the changes in weather. All of these elements can wreak havoc on your precious locks.

Keeping your brushes clean can:

  • Improve the overall condition of your hair
  • Make your hair appear shinier
  • Prevent nasty infections of hair complaints, such as dandruff
  • Prevent the spread of harmful bacteria
  • Allow your hair to grow naturally
  • Prevent the build-up of oils causing your hair to look greasy

Just like the rest of your body, catering to the specific needs of your scalp and hair can make the world of difference in the long run. That’s why it’s so critical to keep on top of cleaning your hair care tools regularly.

Copyright 2018 by DryScalpGone.