We know, we know. But you have to.

I wasn’t always a germaphobe. Certainly not in high school, when we would pass a Maybelline Concealer Stick around the locker room to cover our collective blemishes (so gross). Not in college, when I’d procure someone’s (anyone’s) saline solution and store my contacts in a shot glass. Definitely not as a twentysomething bridesmaid, when I’d use my personal makeup kit to get my friends camera-ready.

But somewhere between getting accidentally cut by a manicurist and a second grade lice epidemic so unstoppable that my son had to seal his belongings in a plastic bag every morning, complete, utter germaphobia kicked in—HARD.

It’s a horrible thing to skeeve your own children, but when it comes to sharing my brushes, nail clippers, and so on, sadly I do. (Word to the wise: remind them that the loofah hanging in the shower isn’t for everyone’s use). That said, even if you live alone, cleaning/disinfecting your beauty tools is something you should be doing regularly, if not often. Try this routine as you’re swapping out your products for spring.

Step 1: Here’s the Rub

You’ll need: 70% rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, cotton rounds, paper towels

Great for: Eyelash curler, tweezers, stainless nail tools, makeup sharpener, curling and flat irons

How-to: Begin by gently removing any surface residue. Use some eye makeup remover to de-gunk the eyelash curler; empty sharpener of pencil shavings. Dampen a cotton swab, round, or both with rubbing alcohol and wipe pieces down, getting into the crevices and cracks as needed. Dry well with a paper towel to prevent rust.

Round 2: Lather Up

You’ll need: Mild pump soap or dish soap, tap water

Great for: Clarisonic, makeup sponges

How-to: Remove brush head from Clarisonic. Lather hands with mild soap and water and use to thoroughly clean brush head; rinse well under running water and lay on a clean towel to air dry. With a cotton swab and soap, clean the open portion of the Clarisonic where the brush head attaches; air dry.

Clean makeup sponges similarly by hand or in two bowls of water (one to wash, one to rinse). Be sure to squeeze out all the soap while rinsing and wring out all the water before placing on a fresh towel to air dry.

Round 3: The Greener Cleaner 

You’ll need: Apple cider vinegar, hot water, dish soap

Great for: Hairbrushes, loofahs, makeup brushes

How-to: Apple cider vinegar’s antibacterial properties make it the ultimate natural alternative to cleaning products with ingredients you can’t pronounce. As a mom and a neurotic, that makes it worth trying, especially on the stuff touching my skin and hair every day.

After you remove the hair and dust from your brush, (tip: wet the brush first for easier removal, and use a toothpick or tweezers if the going gets tough), soak in a half-and-half mixture of water and vinegar for a few minutes. To ensure brush handles (especially wood ones) don’t get warped, I like to soak bristles-side down in a shallow rectangular container so the base and handle aren’t submerged. Shower loofahs can be soaked in a similar mixture in the bathroom sink.

For makeup brushes, first swish around in the palm of hand under the tap using baby shampoo to clean, then soak for a few minutes in a tumbler filled with 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and a squeeze of dish soap to really de-germ. Rinse and allow everything to thoroughly air dry.

More Articles