How to Clean Makeup Sponges – 5 Simple Methods

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Last Updated: October 20, 2021

Did you know that used makeup sponges create and harbor potentially dangerous bacteria over time, not only leading to the possibility of those annoying acne breakouts but even more serious infections? Because of this, cleaning your makeup sponges regularly is essential – keep reading to learn how to clean makeup sponges using the top methods.

Best of all, these methods take less than five minutes, so there is truly no excuse to avoid it!

How to Clean Makeup Sponges

Now, let’s get into the five different (and easy) ways you can clean your beauty sponges. 

Table of Contents (click to jump down):

The Basic Soap and Water Method

This is possibly the easiest method if your makeup sponges are looking like they could use a good cleaning and you can’t even tell what color they were to start with. 

You can use liquid soap, barred soap, or even an anti-bacterial shampoo. Just keep in mind that some soaps are harsher than others and frequent cleanings can begin to break down your sponges.

Step One: Wet Your Sponge

Hold it under running water until it completely expands and give it a few squeezes to ensure that it is completely soaked. 

Once it’s inflated with water, you’re good to move onto step number two.

♦ Step Two: Get Soapy

When using a liquid cleanser, go ahead and drizzle the soap right onto the sponge. Massage, roll, and press the sponge in between your hands, using your palms or your fingers. 

If you’re using barred soap, place the bar under running water and work up a little lather. Then press and rub the sponge against the soap bar, like you would in your palm when using liquid soap. 

Optional: If you have a cleansing pad made for makeup brushes, you can also use this in place of your palms or the bar of soap.

♦ Step Three: Rinse!

Once the suds have become muddy and messy, you’re probably ready to rinse. 

Underneath running water, continue to squeeze, press, massage, and wring the sponge to ensure the removal of all the buildup and soap. Do this until the water runs clear and then set it aside to dry. 

Here’s a short video on how to wash your makeup sponges with different types of soaps!

The Soaking Method

Maybe soaping it up and squeezing it out just isn’t enough for you and you need to know that the entire sponge is truly soaked and cleaned thoroughly.

If this is you, consider using the soaking method rather than the basics.

♦ Step One: Soak Your Sponges

Start by filling a small bowl or container with warm water and adding a few drops of liquid soap or cleanser. 

Give it a little stir to ensure it’s mixed up and go ahead and dunk that sponge right in. Let the soapy mixture do its magic and wait a few minutes before moving onto the next step. 

♦ Step Two: Scrub and Spot Clean

Now that your sponge has soaked and is ready to be worked on, go ahead and add your liquid cleanser directly to the makeup sponge and work it in, massaging, rubbing, and squeezing it, using your palms or fingers. 

You could also use the bar soap method for this step, if you’d prefer. 

♦ Step Three: Rinse Out

Once the lather becomes messy and muddy, you can go ahead and run it under clean water to begin your rinse. 

Continue massaging, squeezing, and rolling it to ensure that you’re washing out all of the makeup and soap. Once the water runs clear, you’re good to set your sponge aside to dry. 

The Microwave Method

If you want to take extra precautions and ensure that the nasty bacteria that can build up in your sponges are gone, the microwave method may be for you. 

Using the microwave method also ensures that your sponges are not only cleaned but also sanitized. Just be mindful to follow the steps below or you could end up with a melted mess and one less makeup sponge.

♦ Step One: Make a Soap Bath

You can start by mixing in a few squirts of liquid soap into a water-filled microwave-safe cup or bowl. Make sure that there is enough of the soapy solution to fully submerge the sponge. 

♦ Step Two: Get it Wet

Dip the sponge into the solution and give it a few squeezes to ensure the mixture is being pulled through the entire sponge and then let it fully submerge. Next is the fun part. 

♦ Step Three: Microwave!

Go ahead and put the bowl or cup into the microwave and let it go for about a minute. Then let it sit for at least thirty seconds before retrieving your “brand new” makeup sponge, to give it time to cool off. 

The once soapy mixture should now be muddy with makeup and your sponge should look just like new. 

♦ Step Four: Rinse

Everyone’s least favorite, but most important step. Once the water cools enough for you to pull out your makeup sponge, rinse it out. Do this by rolling, massaging, and squeezing it under running water. Once the water runs clear, it is time to just set your sponge aside and let it dry. 

The Washing Machine

This is hands down the easiest way to clean your makeup sponges, especially if you have more than one in need of a cleansing.

♦ Step One: Gather Your Sponges

Gather all your sponges and place them in a mesh or net lingerie bag and zip it up. Go ahead and toss that right into your washing machine. 

♦ Step Two: Throw in the Washer

Start by adding an appropriate amount of gentle and hypo-allergenic laundry detergent. Then, ensuring the washer is set to gentle, go ahead and start the load. 

If possible, add an extra rinse cycle. If not, consider running them one more time, with no soap.

♦ Step Three: Let Dry

Pull the bag full of sponges out of the washer and simply hang-dry them.

The UV Sanitizer

Finally, you can rid your makeup sponges of bacteria using a UV sanitizer – you might already even have one you bought during the pandemic!

If you’re lazy, this can be the only way you clean your sponges. Or, if you want to go above and beyond, this can be your final step after using a cleaning method we shared previously.

If the only way you clean your sponges is with a UV sanitizer, they will still look dirty. However, the yucky acne-causing bacteria should be gone.

How to Use: Simply place your sponges inside and turn it on, then wait for it to be done (the time varies depending on the sanitizer you have). Talk about easy!

Morphe has a UV disinfection box that can be used for all your beauty tools. Or, you can find a huge variety of different sized boxes and pouches for great prices on Amazon.

Side Note: We’re obsessed with this UV sanitizer for makeup brushes – although it doesn’t make them look clean, it’s nice to know your brushes aren’t harboring bacteria that can make you break out. It also looks nice sitting on your vanity and is easy to take on-the-go!

Bottom Line

When it comes to how to clean your makeup sponges, these methods are pretty straightforward and simple (not to mention quick). So, there’s truly no excuse not to clean your makeup sponges.