If left uncleaned, a makeup sponge — like a Beautyblender — can get very gross, very quickly. Makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci previously told Allure that “sponges are porous, so they hold onto oils, debris, and bacteria.” And well, I think it’s safe to say you probably don’t want any of those things hanging around and penetrating a tool that you use on your skin every time you do your makeup.
Luckily, Beautyblender makes several cleansing products for its famous egg-shaped sponges, including the easy-to-use solid Blendercleanser. That being said, if you don’t have this or another beauty sponge cleanser on hand, there are a few household items that you can use when you’re in a pinch.
For starters, cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski says you can use unscented dish detergent, such as Seventh Generation’s Natural Fragrance-Free Clear Liquid Dish Soap, along with hot water, to get a deep clean on your Beautyblender.
Why unscented? According to Romanowski, the main reason you want to avoid fragranced soap and detergent is “because the fragrance molecules can bind to the makeup sponge and get trapped, making it so that when you use the sponge the next time, that fragrance can transfer to your makeup and create a scent you don’t want, or it may even chemically interact with other ingredients in the makeup to cause problems, like subtle color changes.” His rule of thumb:” Avoid excess ingredients if you don’t need them.”
Additionally, Baltimore-based board-certified dermatologist Pooja Sodha says fragranced soaps can be irritating for the skin. “Avoiding fragrance soaps and detergents helps to prevent breakouts and contact allergies from re-use of the sponge,” she says. “You also want to ensure that you thoroughly rinse out the sponge once you’re done cleansing so that all of the soap material is removed.”
Aside from dish soap, Sodha also recommends mild hand and face washes, as well as bar soap. A few of her favorites include Purpose’s Gentle Cleansing Wash, Dove’s Sensitive Skin Bar Soap, and Cetaphil’s Cleansing Bar.
Santa Monica-based board-certified dermatologist Tanya Kormeili is also a fan of using facial cleansers — as well as baby shampoo, because it’s so gentle — to remove buildup and bacteria from beauty sponges. “You can soak it in a little bit of soap and water, then rinse away all soap and squeeze out the water to let it dry somewhere cool,” she says. “Never place it wet in a warm damp environment where it is conducive to the growth of bacteria, viruses, and of course, yeast.”