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How to clean make-up sponges: the ultimate guide

You want an even look, a glowing complexion and all-round healthy skin? Then you should take a look at your make-up sponges and make sure you are cleaning them properly. As practical as these colourful beauty gadgets are, without the right hygiene they will quickly become home to nasty germs. But before you go around throwing away all your beauty sponges in a panic, we have some good news for you. There are simple methods that you can start implementing immediately. Using products that you already have lying around at home. In this article, we reveal what those products are as well as everything else you need to know about how to clean make-up sponges.

27 June 2024 • 4 min. reading time

Cleaning make-up sponges – why is it so important?

Make-up sponges are made of fine-pored plastic that absorbs foundation, concealer and other products in order to distribute them evenly. However, they also unavoidably absorb sebum, skin flakes, skin cells and various micro-organisms. These are usually harmless on your skin, provided the sensitive balance is not disrupted. However, a dirty make-up sponge offers them excellent conditions for rapid growth and reproduction. If you use a make-up sponge that has not been cleaned, it will not only distribute your make-up products, it will also distribute lots of bacteria.

The consequence: skin problems, pimples and potentially even inflammation. So if you suddenly find yourself dealing with strange irritations, dirty make-up accessories might be the cause. This also applies for make-up brushes and all other tools that come into contact with your skin.

But don’t panic. Removing the bacteria from your beauty sponge is easy and doesn’t take much effort.

Important

No matter how you clean your make-up sponge, it is essential to work with clean hands. Otherwise you will transfer germs back onto the sponge when you touch it. Always use a clean cloth for pressing out excess liquid. Afterwards, you can put your beauty sponge on this cloth to dry.

How to clean make-up sponges: three efficient methods (number 3 might surprise you)

Admittedly: cleaning a make-up sponge is certainly not the most exciting job in the world. However, with these three methods up your sleeve, this unpleasant task will quickly become an essential ritual in your routine – all for the good of your skin.

Method 1: How to clean make-up sponges by hand

The classic hand wash method is quick to perform and, with a few tricks, is also effective at dealing with bacteria and fungi. It is perfect for daily cleaning after your beauty routine and considerably increases the lifespan of your beloved beauty tools. Simply follow these instructions and enjoy the feeling of clean make-up sponges:

  • Step 1: Hold your make-up sponge under warm, running water. This rinses off visible deposits and residues.
  • Step 2: Use a few drops of soap or another mild cleanser. You can also buy special cleansers for this purpose – you can read more about these below. Please avoid strong cleaning agents or disinfectants with a high alcohol content. They will destroy the germs, but they will also damage your beauty sponge.
  • Step 3: Now we get to the best part. Massage your make-up sponge in order to clean it thoroughly. You will be able to see the sponge get cleaner and cleaner before your eyes. In the case of heavy soiling, feel free to leave the cleanser for a few minutes to take effect.
  • Step 4: Now rinse your make-up sponge thoroughly again under warm water. Pro tip: Afterwards, pour a generous amount of boiling water over it. This will reliably kill any remaining germs.
  • Step 5: Squeeze out your sponge well and leave it to dry. You can do so by leaving it in a sunny spot on the window sill of by placing it on top of a radiator.

Not time to let it dry? No problem. The clean make-up sponge can be used again immediately because you would wet it again before use anyway. It is just important to always rinse it thoroughly. Doing so will prevent residues of the cleanser making it onto your delicate skin. You should also let the make-up sponge completely dry every now and again so that no mould forms.

Method 2: Treat your make-up sponge to a spin in the washing machine

It might sound unbelievable, but if you take note of a few things, you can also wash your make-up sponge in the washing machine:

To ensure your make-up sponge doesn’t get damaged or even disappear in the depths of your washing machine, place it in an old cushion cover or a washing machine net. Select a short cold wash cycle and add a small amount of detergent. You can also use standard disinfectant detergents to ensure you thoroughly wipe out all bacteria. You should also put your washing machine on the lowest spin setting. It is best to clean your make-up sponges separately so that there is no contamination from other pieces of clothing. After the wash, simply leave the make-up sponge to air dry.

Be careful: Don’t ever put the sponge in the dryer. This would drastically reduce the lifespan of your beauty sponge.

Please note: Cleaning your make-up sponge in the washing machine is an intensive process and it can lead to increased wear of your sponge. As such, a deep cycle should only be used as an exception and not as a rule.

Method 3: Cleansing your make-up sponge in the microwave

Heat kills bacteria. Ergo, the microwave is also an effective way to clean your make-up sponge. First you need a microwave-safe bowl. Place your dirty beauty sponge in the bowl and fill it with water, a few drops of your trusted cleanser and a little soap. One minute at 900 wattsis enough to kill all germs of all kinds. Then simply rinse out your beauty sponge and voilà: it will be clean right down to the pores in just two minutes.

Effective helpers: these products will help you clean your make-up sponge.

Before you dive in and start experimenting, please note: Not all cleaning products are suitable for your make-up sponge. The porous structure might be permanently damaged and your favourite beauty helper might have to end up in the bin. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, here is a quick overview of effective, harmless cleaning products:

  • Bar soap: More suitable than liquid soap for cleaning your make-up sponge. This is because it hardly contains any moisturising substances and can be washed out without leaving any residue.
  • Baby shampoo: Anything that works for sensitive baby skin is also a good choice for your make-up sponge. Sebum and skin flakes get washed away down the drain with the gentle foam. To ensure that bacteria don’t sand a chance either, it helps to finish with a dose of boiling water.
  • Beauty sponge cleanser: Gentle but thorough. These liquid cleansers get through even waterproof make-up, so cleaning your make-up sponge is as easy as pie.
  • Make-up remover: What works on your skin will work on the beauty sponge too – without damaging it. But be careful: only use liquid products without moisturising substances. Otherwise your make-up sponge can get blocked up.

It is important to regularly clean your make-up sponges so that your skin stays healthy in the long term. That’s a fact. Whether you do it with a specific brand cleanser or with a few drops of baby shampoo is up to you.

How to clean make-up sponges: FAQ

When should I clean my beauty sponge? Generally after every use. If you use your make-up sponge every day, you should thoroughly wash it with water and soap every day as well. You can put it in the microwave or washing machine every few days.
How should I store my make-up sponge after cleaning it? It should be stored somewhere where it can dry fully in order to prevent mould formation. Don’t place your beauty blender in a jar or bag after cleaning. Instead, leave it in a clean, airy spot to dry.
How often can I clean my make-up sponge? Even when cleaned carefully using optimal cleaning products, the surface of your beauty sponge will still suffer each time it is cleaned. If used every day, it will usually reach the end of its useful life after three months.

Conclusion

This is regardless of whether you wash it by hand, in the washing machine or even in the microwave, with cleanser or simply with soap or shampoo. To ensure that bacteria, fungi and germs don’t stand a chance in the long term, cleaning your beloved make-up sponges should be an integral part of every beauty routine. After all, you remove your make-up before going to bed yourself – so why not treat your make-up sponge as part of your skincare session too?

Make-up sponges
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