November 09, 2023

How to Clean Makeup Sponges Like a Pro? 5 Easy Steps

Makeup sponges have become essential tools many people use for flawless makeup application. Like your makeup brushes, makeup sponges must be cleaned regularly to keep them free of germs, bacteria, and product buildup. Dirty makeup sponges are one of the reasons for acne breakouts and irritation. They also won't blend your makeup as smoothly as a fresh and clean sponge.

In this article, we'll provide tips on how to clean makeup sponges and techniques for storing and drying them regardless of their types and materials. Regularly cleaning your makeup sponges will help you achieve better and longer-lasting makeup while preventing skin irritation and acne. Follow these simple steps to clean your makeup sponges and keep them clean as new.

Benefits of Cleaning Makeup Sponges

Cleaning your makeup sponges such as beauty blenders, regularly offers a multitude of benefits for your skin and application results. Here are the top reasons to get into the habit of washing your sponges:

benefits of cleaning makeup sponge

Prevents Breakouts

The number one benefit is that it prevents acne and clogged pores! Dirty beauty blenders harbor bacteria, which get transferred back onto your skin if not washed away. Frequent cleaning sponge removes layers of built-up makeup, oils, and impurities.

Extends Lifespan of Sponges

Regularly washing and caring for your makeup sponges helps them last longer before needing to be replaced. Solid sponges get torn down over time, but gentle washing helps preserve the shape, texture and performance.

Applies Makeup Evenly

Properly cleaning sponges allows your makeup to blend smoothly and evenly onto skin. When pores are clogged with residue, product doesn’t glide the same over textured areas. A fresh sponge guarantees flawless blending.

Saves Money Over Time

While washing sponges requires an extra step in your beauty routine, it saves money in the long run by getting more use out of your high-quality sponges vs. having to replace them more frequently when they get grimy.

Makes Foundation Look Flawless

Especially when applying liquid or stick foundations, a freshly disinfected sponge buffs makeup into skin perfectly without tugging or streaking. The result is an airbrushed, filtered finish.

Removes Odors

Forget stinky sponges sitting at the bottom of your makeup bag! Regular cleansing keeps sponges smelling fresh and clean between uses rather than collecting layers of makeup fragrances.

[Recommended to Read: Different Beauty Blender Shapes And Uses]

How frequently should you clean your makeup sponges?

Determining how often to clean your makeup sponges depends on how often you use them, what type of makeup you apply, and how you store them. Considering these things can help you decide what schedule you should make to sanitize your beauty blender. It is good to wash makeup sponges at least 2-3 times per week if you are using them every day. People with oily or acne-prone skin should clean beauty blender more often than others since bacteria can lead to more acne breakouts.

If you only use sponges occasionally or for lighter makeup, weekly or twice-a-week cleaning is sufficient. It’s good to analyze sponges regularly and wash them immediately if you notice visible makeup stains. Make a cleaning schedule based on your habits and skin’s needs.

How to Wash Makeup Sponges In 5 Steps

Keeping your makeup sponges clean is essential for applying cosmetics hygienically and preventing breakouts. While makeup sponges are versatile tools for flawless coverage, they easily accumulate bacteria, dirt, oil, and makeup residue. With regular use, deep cleaning your sponges every 1-2 weeks is recommended. Here are some steps that help to make you easy and clear on how to clean makeup sponges.

1. Use Mild Soap and Warm Water

    mild soap and water for cleaning sponge

    Using mild soap and baby shampoo with running lukewarm water is an effective cleaning method recommended by many makeup artists and cosmetic brands. The soap can break down and dissolve the built-up oils, makeup, and bacteria on used sponges. When combined with soapy water, it helps lift away and rinse the dissolved residue, leaving a fresh and clean sponge.

    2. Use Olive Oil

    olive oil for cleaning makeup sponge

    Olive oil is an effective natural ingredient for cleaning stained beauty blenders. It works well to break up and dissolve makeup residue due to its oil-based properties. Apply a light coat of olive oil to saturate the sponge, massage it for 30-60 seconds, focusing on stained areas, and then rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear.

    3. Soaking in Micellar water

      Soaking in Micellar water

      Micellar water is an effective and gentle way to sanitize makeup sponges. To use it, pour a small amount of micellar water into a cup or bowl and then soak the dirty sponges in the liquid. Gently squeeze and massage the sponge to allow the micellar water to break down and dissolve the makeup residue. The micellar water breaks down and removes even waterproof makeup.

      4. Microwaving

        microwaving makeup sponge

        Microwaving is one quick method used to clean and disinfect makeup sponges. To use this technique, you start by wetting the makeup sponge and placing it in a microwave-safe bowl. Place dirty sponges into the small bowl full of lukewarm water and a few drops of mild liquid soap. Microwave the bowl for 1-2 minutes, which helps to kill bacteria and disinfect the sponge effectively. After microwaving, let the sponge cool and rinse it under running water to remove any soap or residue. Microwaving is a quick method. However, It's important to be cautious and avoid overheating or damaging the sponge.

        5. Cleansing Pad

          A cleansing pad is an effective tool for cleaning beauty blender due to its texture. To use it, wet your makeup sponge and add a small amount of mild liquid soap to the cleansing pad's surface. Gently rub the sponge against the textured side of the pad, moving it in circular motions to remove makeup residue from the sponge's surface. Continue until the sponge appears clean, and rinse it under running water. After that, allow the sponge to dry in the air. A cleansing pad is a portable method to refresh sponges after each use or deep clean weekly.

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          Common Mistakes to Avoid While Cleaning Makeup Sponges

          When it comes to cleaning makeup sponges, there are a few common mistakes that people should avoid.  By avoiding these common mistakes, you can keep your makeup sponges clean, hygienic, and in good condition for longer use. Some common mistakes are:

          Avoiding Regular Cleaning: One of the biggest mistakes is not cleaning the sponge regularly. Makeup sponges can harbor bacteria and buildup, so cleaning them after each use or at least once a week is essential. 

          Using harsh cleansers: Another mistake is using harsh cleansers. Makeup sponges are typically made of delicate materials, and using harsh chemicals or rough scrubbing can damage the sponge's texture and integrity. It's best to use a gentle cleanser specifically designed for makeup sponges, mild soap, and warm water.  Avoid products with dyes, fragrances, and oils that can damage the sponge material. 

          Not rinsing thoroughly: It's essential to rinse out all the soap or cleanser residue to prevent any skin irritation or product buildup. Leftover cleanser residue can irritate skin and clog pores. Rinse sponges thoroughly until water runs clear.

          Not allowing the sponge to dry completely: Damp sponges breed bacteria. So it is important to dry thoroughly after each use and cleaning. Moisture can lead to the growth of mold and bacteria. After cleaning, squeeze out excess water and let the sponge air dry completely in a well-ventilated area. 

          Over-scrubbing: Aggressively rubbing the sponge can cause it to tear and shred. Gently massage the cleanser into the sponge to lift dirt. Sponges are porous and made of fine, interconnected webs that provide the ideal application surface. But when scrubbed too hard, these webs can tear, creating holes or causing the sponge to shred.

          Using hot water: Very hot water can melt glue holding sponges together. Hot water can warp or change the shape of certain makeup sponges over time. The high heat causes the sponge material to expand, stretch, and deform if it remains in the water for too long. This damage from hot water will quickly lead to a frayed, warped sponge that is no longer usable. The ideal water temperature for cleaning makeup sponges is lukewarm.

          How to Dry Makeup Sponges

          Knowing how to dry makeup sponges is equally crucial as cleaning makeup sponges. Drying makeup sponges ensures they remain clean and ready for your next makeup application. Usually, it takes a long time to completely dry the beauty sponges, so it is a good idea to have multiple sponges in rotation for easy application during skincare application. Here are some steps that you can follow to dry your makeup sponges:

          Squeeze out water

          After cleaning, gently squeeze out excess water from the beauty sponge. Don't twist or wring forcefully, as this can damage its texture. Remove as much moisture as possible, then stand the sponge upright or lay flat in a dry area.

          Towel blotting

          Gently blotting with a clean towel, paper towel, or cloth can help speed up drying time for a beauty sponge. After washing and squeezing excess moisture from the sponge, place it between two fresh paper towels or soft cloth towels. Apply light pressure to blot and absorb residual water deep in the sponge.

          Air Dry

          The best way to dry your makeup sponge is by allowing it to air dry naturally. After cleansing and squeezing, let the sponge dry naturally by placing it in an open, dry area. Don’t put them in closed containers or bags that block airflow. 

          Drying Stands

          An air-drying stand is an ideal way to dry makeup sponges after washing. The open-air design of the stand allows airflow all around the sponge for drying. Simply place the squeezed-out wet sponge upright into the slots or prongs of the stand.

          How to Store Makeup Sponges

          Properly storing your makeup sponges between uses helps keep them clean and well-preserved.  Here are some tips on how to store your makeup sponges:

          Ventilated Containers

          Storing makeup sponges in ventilated containers is best for preventing bacteria growth. The open-air design allows airflow so no moisture gets trapped inside after cleaning. Ventilated storage containers maintain dryness and freshness between uses.

          Separation from Other Makeup Products

          Storing makeup sponges separately from other makeup products helps prevent cross-contamination and preserve freshness. After use, sponges contain dirt, oils, and bacteria that can transfer to powder or cream products if stored together.

          Avoid Airtight Containers

          Closed containers or sealed bags trap moisture inside after washing instead of allowing the sponge to dry out thoroughly. This can promote bacterial growth. Instead, use open containers like mesh or cloth bags and cups with holes that allow ventilation.

          How Long Can You Use the Same Makeup Sponge 

          When it comes to makeup sponges, it's important not to use them for too long. Makeup sponges should be replaced every 2-5 months with regular use. The porous material unavoidably accumulates makeup residuals, skin oils, and bacteria. No cleaning method can entirely remove this buildup after months of use. For hygienic applications, it's best to replace sponges around 4 times yearly.

          However, how long a sponge lasts depends on several factors: how often you use it, the type of makeup you use, and how you clean a sponge and store it. With heavy daily use, replace more frequently every 1-2 months. Throw out immediately if you notice tearing, smell, or mold. Properly cleaning, drying, and storing sponges in clean, ventilated containers can extend their lifespan slightly. Remember that makeup sponges are not as expensive as other makeup products and are meant to be replaced. Replacing the sponge every few months gives the best and safest makeup application.

          Cleaning Vs Replacing Old Sponges

          When it comes to old sponges, there is a balance between cleaning and replacing them. While regular cleaning can help extend their lifespan, there comes a point where it's necessary to replace them altogether. Sponges are prone to accumulating bacteria, food particles, and other contaminants over time, even with proper cleaning. If a sponge starts to emit a foul odor, shows signs of wear and tear, or becomes excessively dirty despite cleaning efforts, it's a clear indication that it's time for a replacement. Using old and unsanitary sponges can potentially spread bacteria and lead to cross-contamination.

          How to extend Extending the Life of Your makeup Sponges

          Taking proper care of your makeup sponges helps prolong their use and maintain their integrity. Be sure to deep clean them regularly every 1-2 weeks to remove stained makeup, oils, and bacteria buildup that can breed within the sponge fibers. When washing, use lukewarm water and avoid harsh cleansers like alcohol or intense soaps that can degrade the material prematurely. Always gently pat dry the sponges after cleansing and allow them to fully air dry before storage to prevent mold growth. 

          Store cleaned sponges in a breathable container like a mesh bag rather than sealing them in an airtight space. During daily makeup application, don't over-saturate the sponge which strains its structure. Go for a light, patting motion, and rinse thoroughly after use. Avoid twisting, bending, or aggressively scrubbing the sponge during cleansing or makeup application. Discard immediately when you notice any tearing, holes, or changes in texture. 


          Cleaning your reusable makeup sponges regularly is essential to remove buildup and bacteria for hygienic purposes and flawless makeup application. By learning how to clean makeup sponges properly, you can improve the lifespan of these beauty tools. Be sure to use mild sponge cleansers like antibacterial soap or olive oil to remove the buildup. Additionally, the proper drying and storage of your makeup sponge are vital to prevent bacterial growth and extend its usability. By thoroughly cleaning, drying, and storing your sponges, you'll maintain hygienic application with these helpful makeup tools.

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          FAQs on How to Wash Makeup Sponges

          What is the best way to clean a makeup sponge?

          The best way to clean a makeup sponge is to rinse it under warm water and create a soapy solution with gentle liquid soap.

          How often should the makeup sponge be cleaned?

          If you are a regular sponge user, it’s good to clean them at least 2-3 times per week. People with acne-prone or oily skin must clean their sponges more often than others.

          What happens if you don't wash your makeup sponge?

          If you don't wash your makeup sponge, it can accumulate makeup residue, oils, and bacteria and lead to skin irritation, acne breakouts, and eye infections if used near the eyes.

          How do I remove stubborn stains from my makeup sponges?

          To remove stubborn stains from makeup sponges, try soaking them in warm water and gentle cleanser or using a brush cleanser designed explicitly for sponges. Gently massage the stained areas and rinse thoroughly until the stains are removed.

          Is it necessary to use a special cleanser for makeup sponges?

          While it's not necessary to use a special cleanser for makeup sponges, using a cleanser specifically formulated for these sponges can be more effective in removing makeup residue and bacteria. They are designed to be gentle on the sponge material and help maintain its texture and performance.

          Can I use regular soap to clean makeup sponges?

          Regular soap can be used to clean makeup sponges, but choosing a mild soap that is gentle on the sponge material is essential. Avoid using harsh soaps or detergents that can damage the sponge or irritate the skin.

          What can I do with old makeup sponges?

          You can repurpose old makeup sponges for various tasks. You can use old makeup sponges for cleaning tasks like dusting or use them as soft polishing pads for jewelry or glasses.

          Should you wash makeup sponges after every use?

          Yes, you should wash makeup sponges after every use. This prevents the buildup of oils, makeup residue, dirt, and bacteria in the sponge. Regular washing keeps sponges fresh and hygienic for applying makeup to your face.

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