How To Clean Combs and Hairbrushes

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When was the last time you cleaned your combs and hairbrushes? If you’re like me, most of the time you’d rather not answer that question.  It’s one of those little chores that you can put off for a loooong time. But when you finally do take the time to do it, boy, it sure is wonderful to have them all nice and fresh again.

combs and hairbrushes with borax and dish soap for cleaning

Cleaning Combs and Brushes at Home

So when my procrastinating is over and I at last decide to get busy and remove the buildup from my combs and hairbrushes, I like to use a simple homemade soaking solution. It’s been a great way for me to deep clean a hairbrush or comb that takes very little effort on my part.

My soaking solution uses borax for a great cleaning boost and dish soap (I like to use Dawn) for help dissolving away greasy or oily buildup. After a good soaking the gunk and product buildup dissolves away and even the handles feel much better again.

To begin, I fill my bathroom sink about a quarter full with warm water, and add a ¼ cup of borax, swishing it around with my hand to help dissolve it.

Then I squirt in a little bit of dish soap while I fill up the sink with some more water until it is about ¾ full.

Filling a sink to clean combs and hairbrushes

For the hairbrushes in particular, I remove as much of any hair that may be stuck in them. Then I put my combs and hairbrushes into the warm soapy borax water and let them soak for about 30 minutes.

combs and hairbrushes soaking in a sink
How to clean combs

After that time much of the dirt and gunk has dissolved away. Sometimes there’s just a little scrubbing left to be done and I usually use a small nail brush for that job. Then I give them a final rinse and they look great! Now I’m all set for the next five years or so.

Just kidding . . . sort of 🙂

Clean combs and hairbrushes with borax and dish soap

A Note About Storing Your Borax

Finally, here’s a quick note about how I store my borax. I don’t use up my borax as quickly as I used to because I now often use this homemade laundry mixture that has no borax in the recipe. However I still like to use borax for some cleaning jobs, such as cleaning my combs and brushes, so I still like to keep some borax on hand.

If you leave borax in the box it is sold in, it can turn hard as a rock over time and be almost impossible to break apart again. For that reason, I always transfer my borax to another container with a tight fitting lid which helps to keep any moisture out which is the reason the borax can clump up in the first place (I do this with my washing soda too). I cut out the label from the box of borax and taped it to the top of my plastic container so I can easily identify it, and that’s what you see in the photos here. You can read more about this strategy here, as well as some interesting comments from others on what they do about their hard borax – – > What To Do About Hard & Clumpy Borax

containers of borax and washing soda

Sometimes I also use Borax in these mixtures:

Happy cleaning!

This post was originally published February, 2013 and updated April, 2023

How To Clean Combs and Hairbrushes

Deep clean your combs and hairbrushes with this simple soaking solution that lifts away the gunk and buildup and makes them look super clean again!
Prep Time1 minute
soaking time30 minutes
Author: Beverly


  • Sink or large bowl


  • Warm Water
  • 1/4 cup Borax
  • Small Squirt Dish Soap (I like to use Dawn)


  • Begin by filling your sink about a quarter full with warm water.
  • Add the 1/4 cup of Borax and swish it around with your hands to help it dissolve.
  • Squirt some dish soap in the sink and then finish filling the sink with warm water until its about 3/4 full.  You don't want it so full that it will overflow when you add your combs and brushes.
  • Particularly for the hairbrushes, remove as much of the hair that may be stuck in them as possible. Then add your dirty combs and brushes to the soapy borax water in the sink.
  • Let the combs and brushes soak for 30 minutes.
  • After the 30 minutes of soaking, if there are still some dirty areas, give them a little scrubbing with a small brush such as an old toothbrush or a nail brush.
  • Finally, give them a rinse with some clear water and dry them off. Your combs and hairbrushes should now be nice and clean!

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  1. I remember my mother using water and ammonia to soak our combs and brushes to clean them. It worked like magic.

  2. The lazy girl’s way to do this is to put them on the top rack of the dishwasher. Take out all of the hair first, of course. I also wash my dustpan this way.

  3. I wash my combs and brushes every time I wash me and my girls hair every other Saturday via washing machine with clorox…. Lol

  4. I’ve always used ammonia and a drop or two of dish detergent in hot water to soak my combs and brushes in. It cut the oils and hair products like a whiz. I wouldn’t recommend it for natural bristles though. It would strip and dry them out too much.

  5. Sometimes I just soak my comb overnight in a jar filled with warm water and a tablespoon or so of baking soda. In the morning all the gunk has dissolved off!

  6. Interesting to come across this post when i just read this on borax today:

    I’ll have to give this a try with my brushes. Problem with soaking is that they have the pads in them, and airing them out afterwards can take days. So once every five years might be right on target. I found a little wire thingy that does a pretty good job of removing the hair.

    As always, thanks for your reports.