There’s the professional way to clean your makeup brushes…and then there’s the real girl way. Here’s how to effectively degunk and de-grime your brushes when you don’t want to spend hours doing so (and really, who does?).

Like flossing or drinking enough water, we all know weshould be cleaning our makeup brushes regularly, but, let’s get real, how many of us actually are? We’re certainly guilty as charged (it just seems so time-consuming!). Still, there’s no denying that grimy brushes are majorly gross — they can lead to all kinds of unwanted skin issues like breakouts and even infection — not to mention that they don’t work as well. So we asked the pros for the easiest, fastest ways to clean makeup brushes. Read on for game-changing advice that’s guaranteed to make even the laziest girl a clean brush convert.

Why It’s Important to Keep Your Brushes Clean

Let’s start with the most obvious: Dirty brushes are a breeding ground for bacteria (insert obligatory ‘duh’ here). “Keeping your brushes clean ensures that you’re not transferring germs between your face and your makeup,” explains makeup artist, beauty expert and founder of Lazy Perfection Jenny Patinkin. This holds especially true for cream products kept in your bathroom, she adds (humidity in the air and water in the product encourage bacterial growth).

Aside from the ick factor, there’s also the matter of efficacy. Dirty brushes deposit a layer of oils from your skin onto your makeup, creating a hard film on the surface that makes it hard to get the product onto the brush, notes Patinkin. (If your makeup looks speckled or shiny, that’s a telltale sign). Plus, dirty bristles can start to stick together, leading to streaky application, and not cleaning brushes in between colors can affect how the color looks, points out celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli. The bottom line: Clean yo’ brushes.

For a Fast Fix In Between Uses

Lightly rub the brush on a washcloth or towel (one that’s specifically reserved for this use, and this use only.) While this quick fix isn’t necessarily enough to get rid of germs, it’s sufficient to remove excess product and will help extend the length of time you can go between deeper cleans, says Patinkin. Just avoid using paper towels or tissues if your brushes have natural bristles: “Paper products contain tiny fibers of wood pulp that can get into the porous natural hairs and dry them out,” she explains.

A Spray or Wipe Also Works

To quickly address the germy component, a brush cleansing spray is the laziest way to clean makeup brushes, says Patinkin, who likes Japoneseque Makeup Brush Cleanser, $14. “It contains alcohol to sanitize, but also conditions the bristles so that they won’t dry out,” she says. Just spritz lightly, since ODing on the spray can leave behind an unwanted residue. Patinkin advises using only one to two spritzes and holding the bottle six inches away from the brush. Don’t feel like buying an extra product? When he doesn’t have a makeup brush cleaner handy, Scibelli wipes his brushes on fragrance-free face wipes for a similar effect.


For a Deeper Clean…

While quick wipes and spritzes are great for day-to-day, you’ll occasionally need to wash makeup brushes thoroughly. “In theory, once a week is ideal, but in reality, aim for every three to four weeks,” suggests Patinkin. (The one caveat: If you’re dealing with active breakouts or things like styes or cold sores, a weekly makeup brush cleanse is mandatory.)

Not sure how to get started? Here’s how to clean makeup brushes the right way. If you’re using a solid formula, wet the brush, then rub it right onto the soap. Liquid? Add a few drops into a mug filled one-third of the way with warm water and swirl the bristles in the suds. Scibelli also likes using Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Mat, $32, a textured rubber mat that deep cleans bristles. No matter what, the most important thing is to avoid getting water into the ferrule, the part of the brush that connects the bristles with the handle; this can loosen the glue and ruin the brush, cautions Patinkin.

Choose Makeup Brush Cleaner Carefully

There’s no shortage of makeup brush cleansers out there, not to mention a slew of brush-cleansing hacks to be found on the internet. Patinkin and Scibelli both like solid formulas, like the Takeda Brush Purely Soap, $14, and theBeautyBlender BlenderCleanser Solid, $16.

As far as liquids go, you may have heard that baby shampoo is a good choice: “It’s OK in that it’s gentle, but it doesn’t really cut oil effectively,” says Patinkin. She prefers gentle detergents, like Woolite or Dreft, which both get rid of oil and condition bristles. And while we’d never dream of bashing coconut oil, cleaning makeup brushes may be the one thing it’s not good for (it leaves behind a greasy residue that’s super hard to rinse off, Patinkin explains). Also, puh-lease don’t put your brushes in the dishwasher. “Not only can the heat loosen the glue that holds the brush together, but it can also up the likelihood of bacterial growth if not every last germ has been killed,” warns Patinkin.


Try This Device If You’re Super Lazy

If even those simple makeup brush cleansing techniques seem far too challenging, there’s an option for the laziest of all of us: Enter the Lilumia 2, $159, which takes all the elbow grease out of cleaning makeup brushes. Pop up to 12 brushes into the egg-shaped device and it automatically washes them in just 15 minutes, while you do something more productive with your time. Yes, it’s as easy as that. What’s your excuse now?


Be Careful About How You Dry

Drying is an important step when cleaning your makeup brushes, but it doesn’t have to be crazy complicated. Blot the bristles with a towel, then lay each brush over the edge of the counter to dry overnight. That last part is key: Placing them flat on the counter can squish the bristles and interfere with air circulation, while standing them up in a cup can cause water to drip down into the ferrule and handle. In a pinch, Patinkin says blow-drying is OK, but keep the air flow low and the temperature down, since you don’t want to dry out the bristles or blow out the shape of the brush.