How to Sterilize Tweezers, Hair and Makeup Tools

Avoid bacteria collection on the cosmetic items you use daily

beauty items neatly arranged on a towel

The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa  

While we want to look our best, using dirty makeup and beauty tools can leave less-than-desirable results. For instance, tweezers can be helpful for removing unwanted hair, splinters, and even ticks. But they also can harbor germs. Likewise, a dirty makeup brush has the potential to spread pink eye and other infections. So it's important to know how to sterilize tweezers, makeup brushes, and other items.

Here's how to properly clean 10 common beauty tools for your health and your best self.

  • 01 of 10


    cleaning tweezers

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 

    Tweezers are used for lots of tasks, and some of them involve contact with body fluids. To keep them sanitary, tweezers should be cleaned after every use. 

    1. For overall cleaning, wash the entire implement with hand soap and warm water.
    2. Then, dip the tips in rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, or rub with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
    3. Allow to air dry on a clean towel.

    Another way to sterilize tweezers is by using boiling water. 

    1. Bring water to a boil in a small pot. Meanwhile, wash the tweezers with soap and water, making sure to remove any visible dirt.
    2. Submerge the tweezers in the boiling water, and leave them for at least 15 minutes. 
    3. Carefully use tongs to remove the tweezers from the water. Allow them to dry on a clean towel, being careful not to touch them as they will remain hot for a while.
  • 02 of 10

    Makeup Brushes

    makeup brushes

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 

    Unless you have extras, pick a time to clean your makeup brushes when you're not in a rush.

    1. First, wet the brush well with cool, clean water. Try to wet only the bristle part to prevent weakening the adhesive that holds the brush to the handle.
    2. Place a dab of gentle shampoo or detergent in the palm of your hand. Swish the brush through the shampoo, making sure it gets into the center of the brush.
    3. Rinse with clean water, keeping the handle dry.
    4. Gently squeeze the water out of the bristles, keeping them lying as flat as possible. Lay the brushes flat on a towel to air dry at least overnight before using.
  • 03 of 10

    Ultrasonic Facial Brushes

    ultrasonic facial brush

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 

    Even though you use a cleanser with your ultrasonic facial brush, it still needs to be cleaned at least weekly. 

    1. Unscrew the brush head.
    2. Use a few drops of liquid soap on an old toothbrush to scrub between the bristles.
    3. Rinse well with warm water, and then clean the handle with soap and a soft cloth.
    4. Allow the brush head to air dry overnight separated from the handle.
  • 04 of 10

    Eyelash Curler

    cleaning an eyelash curler

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 

    Mascara, eyeliner, and bacteria can all coat the surface of your eyelash curler. A curler should be cleaned at least weekly.

    1. Wet a cotton pad or ball with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, and wipe down all the eyelash curler surfaces that come in contact with your eyes.
    2. Keep moving to a clean part of the pad as you work. When the curler looks clean, make one last pass with a clean pad dipped in rubbing alcohol.
    3. Rinse with cool, clean water because the alcohol can dry out any rubber or plastic components on the curler.
    4. Allow to air dry on a clean towel.
    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Makeup Pencil Sharpeners

    cleaning a makeup pencil sharpener

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 

    Eyeliner, eyebrow, and lip liner pencils all become dull and need to be sharpened. And these pencils might have contacted some pathogens before they are put in that sharpener. So to prevent cross-contamination, the sharpener should be cleaned after every use.

    1. Simply dip an old toothbrush into some rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, and carefully scrub into the edges of the sharpener.
    2. Rinse well with cool water, and allow to air dry.
  • 06 of 10

    Manicure and Pedicure Tools

    cleaning manicure and pedicure tools

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa  

    Dispose of single-use manicure and pedicure tools, such as wooden sticks and cotton pads, after every use. Other tools should be washed after every use.

    1. Metal implements should be washed with soap and water using an old toothbrush to get into the hard-to-reach areas. Then, clean the edges with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
    2. Plastic or synthetic materials, such as toe separators or nail brushes, should be wiped down with rubbing alcohol.
    3. Abrasive surfaces, such as nail files and buffers, can be cleaned by brushing with a clean nail brush.
    4. Make sure tools are completely dry and stored properly in a clean container. Do not leave dirty tools in an airtight container.
  • 07 of 10

    Curling and Flat Irons

    alcohol and hot hair tools

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa  

    Hair spray and other hair products can build up on curling and flat irons, and all of that heat bakes it onto the surface. But you can't just dunk these appliances in water, and scraping off the gunk can damage surfaces.

    1. Unplug the appliance, and make sure it is completely cool.
    2. Wet a cotton pad or ball with rubbing alcohol, and go over the sticky surfaces. You might need to use several pads to complete the job. Allow it to work for a few minutes. Then, wipe down the surface with a clean, damp cloth, and dry it with a soft cloth.
    3. If the surface still isn't clean, you also can try a mixture of 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of water. Apply the paste to the sticky areas with a soft cloth, and scrub lightly. Wipe away the residue with a clean cloth dipped in water, and then dry with a soft cloth.
  • 08 of 10

    Hair Brushes, Combs, and Accessories

    hair brushes and combs

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 

    Hairbrushes and combs collect lots of oily dirt, dead skin, and hair products on their surfaces. If you don't clean them regularly, all of that gunk can be transferred back to your hair and leave it looking dull and flat.

    1. First, remove as much hair as possible from the brush or comb with your fingers or with tweezers.
    2. Next, dampen the brush or comb with water, and work in a bit of shampoo. Use your hands to work the shampoo into the bristles or teeth.
    3. Fill a sink with warm water, and allow the brush or comb to soak for at least 15 minutes. Note: For natural boar bristle, cushioned, and wooden hair tools, skip this soaking step, as it might damage parts of the tool. Instead, you might need to repeat step 2.
    4. Use an old toothbrush to loosen any residue that remains.
    5. Rinse well with warm water, and allow to air dry on a clean towel.

    Plastic and metal barrettes, headbands, and clips can be cleaned using the steps above. But you might also need to use a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad to remove hairspray residue.

    For fabric headbands and bows, follow label directions or spot clean with a gentle detergent and water. Allow the items to air dry. Then, spritz on a bit of spray starch or fabric sizing, and gently reshape with your fingers.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Shower Loofahs and Poofs

    shower loofah

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 

    Your body may be clean after a bath or shower, but where did all that dirt and oil go? Into your loofah or bath poof.

    1. After every use, rinse the loofah or poof well. Shake it out, and hang it to dry (outside the shower is best).
    2. At least once per week, clean the loofah or poof thoroughly by soaking it in a diluted bleach and water solution (1 tablespoon of household bleach to 2 cups of warm water) for five minutes. A poof also can be tossed in a washing machine with bath towels.
    3. Replace worn or visibly dirty or musty loofahs and poofs.
  • 10 of 10


    makeup mirror and bag

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 

    Whether your mirror is a large one over the bathroom sink, a hand-held mirror, or one that has extra lighting, you can easily keep it crystal clear.

    1. Make your own glass cleaner by mixing 1 cup rubbing alcohol, 1 cup water, and 1 tablespoon vinegar in a spray bottle. Be sure to label the container.
    2. Spray the homemade glass cleaner (or a commercial brand) on your mirror, and then wipe it down with a microfiber or other lint-free cloth.
    3. For any remaining tough hair spray stains on glass, wipe the area with a cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Then, dry it with a lint-free cloth.
  • How do I sterilize my salon equipment?

    Many salons use an autoclave to sterilize equipment. An autoclave is a machine that uses pressurized steam to kill germs on the instruments placed inside.

  • Can hand sanitizer sterilize tweezers?

    Hand sanitizer that has at least a 60% alcohol content can kill many, but not all, germs on a surface.

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ticks. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  2. Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

  3. Show Me the Science – When & How to Use Hand Sanitizer in Community Settings. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.