How To Clean Makeup Sponges

face powder, highlighter and different lipstick shades

A makeup sponge is an essential tool in any makeup kit. It can help you blend and build up coverage to achieve a flawless finish. However, all that hard work means it gets dirty in a hurry. 

Keeping your makeup tools clean is crucial to keeping your skin glowing and healthy. You don't want to spread around the dirt, oil, and harmful germs that could be living in your used makeup sponge. You could develop skin issues and not get the best application if you're not using a clean sponge. 

We will go over why you should clean your sponge and the steps to getting the job done. We will also cover how often you should be cleaning it and when to throw it away. 

Why You Need To Clean Your Makeup Sponge

Your makeup can quickly build up on your makeup sponges after only a few uses. Not only do dirty sponges make them harder to use, but they can also be harmful to your skin. They can store germs and moisture, leading to a plethora of issues. Let's go over some of the potential risks of not using a clean makeup sponge. 

Bacteria Buildup

When you allow germs and grime to build up on your damp makeup sponges, microorganisms can flourish. A wet, warm environment is a petri dish that allows bacteria to reproduce at a rapid rate. These small bacteria colonies can get out of control in a hurry. 

Every time you use your unclean sponge, you spread this bacteria around on your face. Yuck! As if bacteria infestations aren't enough of a reason to clean your makeup sponges, there are even more reasons.


One of the main reasons you should clean your makeup sponges is to keep your skin clean. Dirty sponges can lead to breakouts. When you swipe bacteria over your face, your skin is suddenly dealing with microorganisms it doesn't know how to handle.

Your body will reject this bacteria, and you could end up with a slew of new pimples. You may also develop a rash or blistering from the bacteria, which is no fun. If you notice breakouts after wearing makeup, it may not be coming from your products, but your unclean makeup sponges!

Not to mention that if it's not bacteria causing breakouts, it could be from clogged pores. Accumulated makeup in your unclean sponges can get into your pores and oil glands and clog them. Oftentimes, these blocked pores can result in breakouts. You'll just be transferring dirt from your skin, into your makeup sponges, and then back to your face in a vicious circle if you don't clean your tools. 

Skin Irritation

Oil and grime accumulation can cause your skin to respond in a variety of ways. An excess of germs can cause your skin to become inflamed, just as it can cause breakouts. 

When your makeup is caked onto your sponge, you may have to rub a little more to blend out your products, which can cause further irritation to your skin. 

Viral Infections

We aren't done with the scary stuff yet. Unclean makeup sponges can also result in viral infections. Your skin is already irritated from reapplying your dirt and oils, but if you share your sponges, it opens the door to Pandora's box. 

When you share makeup tools, you now have a mix of your germs and someone else's. The foreign bacteria can result in an adverse skin reaction. You can also catch things like pink eye or herpes, even if you don't notice these viruses on your friend. 

You just never know what you could be exposing yourself to when you share makeup tools or use dirty sponges. You would rather be safe than sorry! Plus, your skin will thank you. 

Cleaning Your Makeup Sponges

Now that you're likely thoroughly freaked out by what your dirty makeup sponges may be harboring; let's go over how to get them good as new. 

There are a variety of options to get your sponges clean and ready to use again. 

Soap or Cleanser

One of the quickest and cheapest ways to clean your makeup sponges is with some good old-fashioned soap or cleanser. There are a variety of products that you may use to clean your sponges. You can use antibacterial hand soap or even baby wash to clean them. 

  1. First, submerge your sponge in warm water to expand it and allow you to get the soap inside of it. 
  2. Next, begin to massage the sponge and work out the makeup. Use circular motions on the palm of your hand to help loosen up the makeup. 
  3. Finally, rinse the sponge under running water, squeezing the soap and dirt out as you go. You may need to repeat step 2 several times before it's spotless. 

Soak Your Sponge

Soaking your makeup sponge in warm water is another quick and easy technique to clean it. You can also use this method if your usual washing doesn't completely remove the dirt and grime.

You need to use warm, soapy water for this, and you should let your makeup sponges soak for at least 30 minutes. During this time, the warm water will help lift any extra product that has been absorbed and dried in your sponge. Once the time is up, squeeze the sponge under running water and then dry it with a clean towel. Make sure it's completely dry before reusing it.

Microwave Your Sponges

Surprise! Your microwave is useful in more ways than just heating up food. You can use it to clean your dirty makeup sponges. The heat from the microwave will kill the bacteria. Don't worry; you won't ruin your sponge if you follow the instructions.

  1. Saturate your sponge entirely in warm soapy water.
  2. Once it's starting to look clean, squeeze it out, and soak it again. 
  3. Place it in a cup of soapy water and microwave it for one minute. 
  4. Wait for the water to cool down and remove it from the cup.
  5. Run the sponge under the faucet, squeezing it as you go until it's rinsed out. 
  6. Dry it with a towel and leave it in the open air until it's no longer wet to the touch. 

Olive Oil and Dish Detergent

You can also use dishwashing detergent and olive oil to clean your sponges. These products are antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antiviral, making them a great alternative to standard cleansers.

In a mixing bowl, combine warm water, olive oil, baby shampoo, and dishwashing detergent. Next, dip the sponge into the bowel and squeeze out the sponge under a hot tap. Repeat this process several times until the water coming out of the sponge looks clean. 

Makeup Removers

You can use makeup remover or micellar water to remove the makeup from your sponges. This is an excellent option since makeup remover is designed to break up stubborn makeup.

You just need to combine the makeup remover with water in a bowl and soak your sponges in the mixture. Next, squeeze out the sponge and work it between your fingers to remove the makeup. Similar to the other steps, rinse it under the faucet until it looks clean and let it dry out before using it again.

Commonly Asked Questions

There are many different things you may be wondering about when it comes to makeup tools. Let's go over some commonly asked questions to give you answers. 

Can You Reuse All Makeup Sponges?

Most makeup sponges are meant to be used several times and washed regularly. However, there are some single-use makeup sponges out there. If it's a cheaply made sponge, it may start disintegrating and tearing. In this case, it's time to throw it away. 

When Is It Time To Throw Out My Makeup Sponge

You should try to clean your makeup sponges every seven to 10 days. When your sponge has stains that you can't get out, or it's starting to break down, it's time for a new sponge. 

If you notice it starting to smell, it may be harboring bacteria, and you should throw it away. If you clean your makeup sponge regularly and it's high-quality, it can last three to six months.

Is a Makeup Sponge Better Than a Brush?

Most people have both a sponge and a variety of brushes in their makeup kit. A sponge can be great for blending out liquid foundations and concealers. You may find it more difficult to get a flawless finish blending with a brush. However, it's more about personal preference. Brushes are definitely the way to go for applying powder products.  

HIDE Premium Foundation is easy to blend out with a makeup sponge or a brush. 


A Clean Sponge Is a Happy Sponge

Cleaning your makeup sponges is essential if you want to keep your skin safe and clear. There are many different techniques for cleaning your dirty sponges quickly and efficiently. A clean sponge is better for blending out liquid makeup, like HIDE premium products



8 Gross Things That Happen If You Don't Clean Your Makeup Brushes & Sponges | Bustle

Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Prevention | Web MD

How to clean your makeup brushes | AAD

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