Written by Sarah Jones
Last Updated

While make-up is great at covering and concealing break-outs, the last thing you want is for make-up sponges and brushes to be the reason your skin is suffering in the first place. These kinds of beauty tools can harbor bacteria if not looked after. 

If you re-use sponges and brushes, you are wiping the bacteria and germs directly onto your skin each time you use them, so it’s important to get into a good cleaning routine, and to replace them completely on a regular basis. 

For make-up sponges, you should be rinsing them after use but that will only lift off the surface layer of make-up, bacteria and germs will be living inside the sponge, which is why you need to clean it properly. 

There are several ways to make sure your sponges are perfectly clean and hygienic.

Buy a Specialist Sponge Cleaning Product

There are specialist products out there designed for cleaning make-up sponges, which you can use, safe in the knowledge that your sponges will be free of any nastiness and that the cleanser won’t affect your skin when you use the sponge again afterward.


Use Your Soap

If you don’t want the expense of buying a sponge cleanser then you can just use your regular facial soap to clean your make-up sponges. If using the soap you need to wet and rinse the sponges first, then wet the soap and rub it into the sponges to make sure they are soaked in soap. Then rinse and squeeze repeatedly until all the soap and water are removed, and then leave it to dry thoroughly before using it again. 

All make-up sponges and brushes should be replaced completely every three months as they are not designed for long-term use but if you want to keep them germ-free while in use then it’s important to clean them regularly.


Here is a quick guide to the perfect way to clean your make-up sponge: 

Set aside a cleaning day when you can take all of your make-up sponges and brushes and wash them thoroughly, one at a time, using the wet, spin, and rinse method. You should aim to do this as often as you can.


Wet the Sponge

It’s important to get your sponge soaking wet before you start to think about cleaning it. Soak it in some warm water to get it nice and wet and to loosen all of the dirt and make-up like your favorite foundation that is caked onto it already. Once the sponge is wet you can move to the next stage.


Spin the Sponge

Once the sponge is soaked, add your sponge cleaning product to the water and then spin the sponge around in the product to build up a later. If using soap the spin the soap bar over the whole sponge to cover it. Keep doing this until you are happy it is clean. You can rinse and repeat this process as many times as you need. 

Most make-up sponges are porous which means they soak up the foundation, your primer, and other products inside them so it’s important to keep doing this process and squeezing all of the soap and water out of the sponge, to remove in-built dirt.


Rinse Your Sponge

Once you are happy that all of the make-up and soap is out of your sponge, you need to fill up the sink with clean warm water to rinse it as the final step in your cleaning program. It’s important to get all soap or cleanser out of your sponge as any residue could irritate your skin. 

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Rinse your sponges thoroughly and then leave them out to dry before using them again. Don’t put wet or damp make-up sponges into make-up bags as bacteria will breed on the wet surface and you will have ruined all your hard cleaning work.


How NOT to Clean Your Make-Up Sponges

Here are a few tips to help keep your make-up sponges lasting longer: 

  • Don’t clean your sponges with any product containing alcohol as this will break the sponge down. 
  • Don’t use any kind of face toner or face cleaning product other than soap as these can leave residue
  • Don’t put make-up sponges in the washing machine
  • Don’t use boiling water or dry them with the hairdryer as they won’t survive the heat



Make-up sponges have grown in popularity thanks to the perfect sheer coverage they provide when applying foundation, however, they are not designed to be used repeatedly and should be discarded after three months of use. 

If you want to avoid suffering spots and ugly break-outs then it’s vital to keep your sponges clean during the three months of use, by washing them regularly using an appropriate product and allowing them to dry thoroughly before using them again.


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