Published on January 15, 2019

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Illustration by Meghan McNeer

Cleaning your makeup tools and brushes is really important. But cleaning your Beautyblender and makeup sponges is vitally urgent. If you skip a daily cleaning, and then a few more, and a few more after that, your beloved sponge could gain a few friends, like bacteria overgrowth, extreme mold, and/or even actual bugs. (Ewww.)

The reason beauty sponges are much more susceptible to bacteria is that they’re made of extremely porous material; they practically suck up anything and everything they interact with, like skin cells, product, dirt, and wetness. It’s a miracle they’re not dirtier, honestly. That cocktail of interactions can do a number if not cleaned properly though. “A dirty brush or blender can cause breakouts, irritation, illness, bad application, and damaged brushes,” says Rea Ann Silva, founder of Beautyblender.

So how often do makeup sponges need to be cleaned? Sorry to say, but every single day, after every single use. Cleaning haphazardly isn’t enough—there isn’t an A for effort award here—you’ll have to put in the daily work. There are a whole lot of hacks for cleaning sponges on the internet, but the expert says proceed with caution. “Forget the hacks you’ve read about microwaving (please don’t) or pouring vinegar (no, no, no) on your blender,” says Silva.

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Courtesy of Beautyblender

Thankfully, it’s incredibly easy and shouldn’t take more than a minute. Wet the sponge, put a bit of Beautyblender soap or any gentle dish or hand soap (Dove can work well) on the blender, and work it into a lather. If it’s stained or especially dirty, submerge the blender in a bowl of water for a few extra minutes and cleanse again. Squeeze (gently so you don’t tear or snag) and rinse with clean water until it runs clear, and then squeeze again to make sure you get out all excess water.

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Courtesy of Juno & Co.

Cleaning is important, but the drying process is also vital. It needs to completely dry after washing. Washing and then storing a blender without allowing it to fully dry is a recipe for bacteria growth and mold. Let the sponge dry completely in a clean, well-ventilated area and considered elevating it to speed up the process. This Cubist Holder ($4), from Juno & Co., is a clever tool the prevents bacteria from breeding as your sponge dries.

When to toss? A good rule of thumb is a new sponge every month, along with daily cleanings.

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