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How To Clean Your Makeup Sponges Without Ruining Them

Time to do it the right way.

Yeah, hi, cleaning my makeup sponges is hands down one of my least favorite tasks. Like, sure, it's super satisfying to wring out a few days' worths of foundation and concealer, but...I'd literally rather spend my time doing anything else (aka me rewatching Crash Landing On You for the 80th time). But thanks to the fact that I have stupid-sensitive skin, I've begrudgingly committed to cleaning my Beautyblender constantly to prevent irritation and breakouts.

That means I've acquired a ~special~ set of skills: Washing my sponges as fast and efficiently as humanly possible. Ahead, four ways to clean a makeup sponge or Beautyblender without, you know, hating your life. Spoiler: There's a genius hack for sanitizing—and it involves a microwave.

How to Clean a Makeup Sponge With a Cleansing Pad

The key to cleaning a makeup sponge? Using enough friction that you actually clean it, but not so much that you damage it (little sponges are delicate, y'all). That's why I love using a texturized silicone pad—it gives me a gentle-but-effective surface to deep clean my Beautyblender without tearing or snagging it. Here's what you do:

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  1. Wet your sponge. Gently squeeze your sponge under running water until it's totally wet.
  2. Add some soap. Squeeze a cleansing liquid or rub a bar of soap along with the mitt so it's fully saturated.
  3. Scrub and rinse. Run your sponge along with the silicone nibs until your makeup stains are gone—no wringing or pulling—and then rinse until the water runs clear.
  4. Dry. Set your sponge aside and let it air-dry with plenty of circulation (Psst: Drying your makeup sponge in a closed space can actually lead to mildew).


How to Clean a Makeup Sponge With Soap

If your makeup sponge is so dirty that you’re not even positive what color it originally was when you bought it, you need to reach for the big guns: Soap. Whether you prefer to use a liquid cleanser or a bar of soap is up to you, but both methods will give you the same squeaky-clean result.

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  1. Wet your sponge. Squeeze your blending sponge under running water until it expands and is completely soaked.
  2. Add the cleanser. If you’re using a liquid cleanser, squirt the soap directly onto the sponge and begin massaging, pressing, and pushing it into the palm of your wet hand. If you’re using bar soap, rub the sponge back and forth against the bar while applying pressure to build up a lather.
  3. Rinse. Once the soapy suds have turned into a makeup-y mess, you’re ready to rinse. Squeeze the sponge underneath clean water until the water runs clear, then set it aside to dry.

Just be careful: Soap can be harsh and drying, so doing this cleanse too frequently can start to break down your sponge over time. Instead, try one of these gentler options, below, and save the bar soap for monthly cleanings.


How to Clean a Makeup Sponge With a Soak

If you’re a perfectionist, and a few stains on an otherwise-clean sponge will eat away at your soul, try the double-cleansing method: Soak your sponge in a liquid cleanser, then follow with a gentle scrub with bar soap to remove every last bit of gunky residue.

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  1. Soak. Squirt a few drops of liquid cleanser into a small bowl with warm water, submerging the dirty sponge into the soapy solution. Let it soak for a few minutes before moving to step two.
  2. Scrub. Work your sponge into the soap bar, paying special attention to the areas with deep stains. Once you have a lather going, use your fingers to massage the soap deeper into the sponge.
  3. Rinse. Once the sponge starts oozing old makeup, run it under clean water to rinse. Give it a couple of squeezes to wash out all the soap. Set aside to dry.

How to Clean a Makeup Sponge in a Microwave

If you’d rather risk a bad breakout than spend all that time scrubbing and soaking your sponges, let me introduce you to the microwave method. A quick zap is all it takes to sanitize your makeup sponge. “Microwaving the sponge in soapy water is essentially like a supercharged version of putting it in your washing machine, which uses hot water and soap to cleanse fabrics,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. “The microwave energy will also likely kill any micro-organisms that may be growing on the sponge.”

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But wait! Don’t just place your dirty sponge on the microwave tray and press start or you’ll end up with a melted mess and a bad mood. Instead, follow the below steps for a sponge that looks brand new:

  1. Make a soapy water mixture. First, mix a few squirts of mild soap (dish soap or baby shampoo will work) with water in a microwave-safe cup. You can eyeball it when it comes to measurements—just make sure there’s enough soapy solution to cover the sponge fully.
  2. Wet the sponge. Give the sponge a few squeezes in the water to pre-wet it, then fully submerge it in the cup.
  3. Zap it. Microwave the cup for about a minute, waiting at least 30 seconds for the cup to cool before grabbing it from the microwave. The soapy water will have transformed into liquid makeup residue, and your gross sponge will look just like new.
  4. Wring it out. Once the water cools, rinse and wring out the sponge under running water, then set it aside to dry.
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This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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