How to Clean Your Makeup Bag Like a Pro

How to Clean Your Makeup Bag Like a Pro

Chances are that the last time you purged your makeup bag was... never. This case of beauty essentials helps you be your best every day - but why is it not given the proper attention? It's commonly known that the cause of a breakout maybe dirty tool or expired product. Bacteria and other critters thrive on old makeup creating unhealthy environment in your bag and contaminating other products. However people prefer to ignore dusty and grimy insides of their purses and sometimes don't even know how important it is.

Having a clean, organized makeup space saves you a lot of time and money. Regularly maintaining a clean cosmetic bag makes you feel so much better! Help yourself to let go of the old and embrace the new with these easy steps:



beauty photoshoot

Find a flat surface where you can sort all your makeup on. I'll use a towel.

Empty out your makeup bag and lay EVERYTHING out in front of you. While we are in a cleaning mood - stop and think for a second. Do you have any makeup anywhere else in the house? Think of lipstick in your jacket pocket, balms near the work table. What about bathroom? Maybe there are some items stuck in the drawers that you forgot about? Put everything you find in front of you.

This will show you the REAL situation of your makeup collection: forgotten and expired items and items you love and use everyday.

beauty photoshoot

Separate all the brushes you find in you collection. Don't forget about the ones that come with powders and eyeshadows. Put them away for now. Also look for anything you need to toss: used cotton swabs, disposable tools and sponges, etc. .


See what's inside

beauty photoshoot

Take a look at your makeup bag. It's usually a heavy duty closed space that we reach to every day. Besides makeup, all kinds of cosmetic residue and dirty items can be found there: from old disposable sponges to used cotton swabs. According to statistics, most women don't bother cleaning their beauty treasures at all and only 34% do it once a year.

Whether you had never thought of cleaning your makeup bag or you do that frequently, it's time to grab some wipes and get started!

beauty photoshoot

At first, flip the bag inside out if possible. One of the most useful products in this case are baby wipes . They have gentle cleansing formula that is effective against light dusty surface. Then, if a stain is hard to remove I suggest using dish soap or makeup remover. If stains are all over - try putting it in a washer if the fabric allows it.
Generally, I go through this procedure when cleaning brush holders and brush belts.

In my opinion, makeup bag is rather intimate object. It represents your taste and you style, it's very personal. And I think it deserves to be pretty and clean!

Imagine you see your cosmetic bag for the first time, as if you looking at it in a store - do you like it? Does it perform like you need it to? Can you see all your makeup in there or do you always forget about what you own?

If you don't have a makeup bag to your liking, you are welcome to browse through the list I made. These are my favorite ones:

The most important features to consider

  • Easy to organize. I love using sections and dividers - keeps my makeup beautifully stored!
  • Easy to clean. Give preference to durable materials that are machine washable. Saves time!
  • Everything is visible. If you choose clear containers and sections it will be easier to reach for whatever you need. No more digging!

*For those who prefer getting ready in a bathroom, I suggest putting makeup away in a drawer. All the humidity and moisture spread germs very easily so don't let it get to your products, store wisely.



Okay, it is time to take a deep breath and face your makeup collection. Start with the simplest thing. First, clean out everything that is disposable: cotton swabs, sponges, plastic tools. Then, toss away products that are dry or empty: old smelly mascara, 10 year old lipstick, separated nail polish. Maybe, some strange items are found during purge? Check for coins, band-aids, hair pins - we need to discard all non-makeup staff.

Is there anything left that irritates you? Anything that is broken? Maybe the lipstick of very strange shade? Or 50 colors palette that you don't use every day? Do you really need hundreds of the same type of pink lip gloss? Also, think of the items of low quality that doesn't give you joy and toss it away.

Usually we are afraid of letting the things go because we gave money for it. But take a breath and acknowledge that it was a wrong choice for you BUT it served it's purpose already and maybe you didn't know it. For example you bought very expensive eyeshadow palette and they are just so pretty but you rarely had a chance to use them. Well, evidently, their purpose was to GIVE you happiness the moment you bought them: adorable package, beautiful colors.

Be honest with yourself and allow to let go. It served it's "destiny" already but occupies precious space in your bag.



When going through makeup, you can still feel uncertain whether you need a product or not. Take a look at your collection once more. Your main intention now is to focus on finding EXPIRED items or those you no longer love. The expire date should be taken into consideration not just because of flaking and dryness, but also because of bacteria which creates brakeouts. Visually you can recognize expired product by discoloration, separation of ingredients or waxy build - up. Check the smell as well - it can be a clear evidence of it!


Take each item and inspect the label in the back for the expiration date. You'll find that most of them have Period After Opening (PAO) symbol which shows you how many months this particular product works before going bad. The starting point is the day you open it. For example, this foundation lasts 24 months.

Makeup Expiration List for you for reference

beauty photoshoot

Keep or Toss?

  • Sometimes because of hydrating agents and oil ingredients the shelf-life of cream based makeup shortens. For example: liquid foundation, moisturizing balm, lipsticks, cream highlighters. Check for separated products and for undesirable smell - clear evidence of a product gone bad.
  • As for powder products, the timing lessens because we constantly put dirty brushes inside. By swiping your finger across the product check if the shade has changed or if there is a waxy build-up and don't hesitate to toss!
  • Check all your mascaras and see if any of them are dry, flaking or not even properly closed. Toss them in that case. To prevent mascara from quick dryness, instead of pumping the wand up and down, move it in a circular motion so no extra air gets in.

Be fair and strict and don't try to save money at the expense of your health. Write down items you need to restock on.


Clean and Sanitize

Don't know about you, but this is my favorite part! The joy of wiping all nasty grime and dust and seeing afterwards crystal clean surfaces. In my makeup cleaning kit I usually keep baby wipes, alcohol, brush cleaner and hand towels. I start with a pack of baby wipes to clean liquids, caps, inside and out of powder products, mirrors.

beauty photoshoot beauty photoshoot
beauty photoshoot beauty photoshoot

I don't forget about pencils. Using a cotton swab, I clean inside caps and sharpen them along the way. I use alcohol sanitizer or wipes to clean eyelash curler, pencil sharpener, lipsticks. Get the gunk out! After that, I go through the rest of makeup and spray it with alcohol.

beauty photoshoot

The products I use:

  • Isopropyl Alcohol: This is my secret to keeping all of my makeup and brushes in my kit sanitized. Pour into a small spray bottle and give your pallets a spritz or two of this and it will eliminate the germs and bacteria.


Check Tools

Using a sponge is one of the best ways to apply makeup. In my usual makeup work I keep beauty blenders and simple triangle sponges at hand because it's easy to use and you get perfect "no texture" finish. And if triangle cosmetic sponges are disposable, maintaining 20$ beauty blender sponge can be a challange.

There were a lot of times when I just tossed my money away because I store these amazing sponges the wrong way. NEVER NEVER leave it damp inside closed space. It was my mistake when I used it and put it away in a makeup bag. Next thing you see are small black dots on the surface which mean that it got bacteria because of humidity - like any other sponge. So I had to toss them like them like that.

And now my beauty blender maintaining routine is very careful. If the sponge is still damp I store it only in an open air. I also clean it before or after EACH use. Though for me it's always been a rule because I use the same sponge on different people.

But many of us wonder: "why should I clean so often if I use it only on myself?" Well, think of this. if you have dirty hands - would you like to apply foundation with them? So why put it on with a Beauty Blender or a brush that has not been cleaned?

Here is my cleaning solution for multi-use sponges:

For pigmented oily products: dish soap
For light cleaning: any shampoo or mild soap
It usually takes several times to clean it completely. When finished, let the sponge dry in the open air.


Check Brushes

beauty photoshoot

Even if your makeup bag consists of one lipstick and mascara, I bet somewhere you have a brush or two left at the bottom of makeup bag and they need your attention.
Cleaning brushes is my separate routine. Depending on what makeup is left on a brush I use different product. For gentle cleaning I prefer working with face cleansing product or shampoo of the cheapest brand. Unlike harsh soap, these two products cleanse brush hair very easily. The hardest thing to remove are oily pigments / lipsticks for some artistic makeup looks and I counter it with 1 part oil + 1 part dish soap.

Sometimes when I'm on set and need quick and efficient brush cleaning I love using Cinema Secrets spray. It comes in handy when you don't have much time between the clients but need you tools to be sanitized and clean. This particular product is my favorite!

Quick Tip: If you try washing your brushes with rubber glove you'll see how quick and easy it is to remove the makeup. Check my cleaning list:

After washing, I leave brushes on a towel to dry "heads down" so that their shape remains. I prefer drying them in a balcony where fresh air does it's job.

beauty photoshoot



We finally cleaned everything possible and our makeup bag is pristine clean and fresh. If you found out along the way the necessity of shopping - this is a great time! Thoughtfully make a list of products you want based on your daily routine and treat yourself with spring/summer colors!

Here is the list of my favorite makeup online stores:

Now is a wonderful time to make a fresh start and any cleaning process helps you rethink the old habits and implement new ones. Whether you are a makeup guru or don't wear makeup at all, think of keeping your favorite beauty products clean and easy to access. Try implementing PRO cleaning tips in your routine and go through your makeup stash AT LEAST couple of times a year.

Let me know in the section below: "How often do you clean your makeup? Have you ever found any unusual items inside your cosmetic bag that don't belong there? I promise not to judge!"