Wooden hairbrushes are a popular option, as they’re made from sustainable bamboo, are environmentally friendly, and provide a better alternative to plastic or synthetic hairbrushes. Moreover, they tend to have widely spaced rounded wooden bristles that cause less snagging and are more effective at detangling hair.
While using a wooden hairbrush helps to massage the scalp to stimulate blood flow, leading to a healthier scalp and hair, over time, you’ll notice dirt, oil, and product residue buildup, which can transfer back onto your clean hair.
Fortunately, cleaning your wooden hairbrush at home is very easy. You will only need some simple household items like soap, tea tree oil, and a toothbrush. Let us take a look at the best way to clean your wooden hairbrush, as well as some frequently asked questions.
Cleaning Your Wooden Hairbrush
The process of cleaning a wooden hairbrush is different from cleaning a plastic or synthetic one, as wood is a porous material. When left damp, it can lend itself to rot, mildew, and mold. This means that prolonged exposure to water causes the wood to split and deteriorate and can also cause the bristles to become loose over time.
In light of the above, you should store your wooden hairbrush appropriately after cleaning it and avoid soaking it in water. An effective way to clean your wooden hairbrush is to either use a solution of warm water and soap or diluted tea tree oil and scrub the hairbrush using a toothbrush.
Diluted tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties and doesn’t need to be rinsed off since it doesn’t contain soap. If using a soapy solution, make sure to rinse off the soap from the hairbrush to get rid of any soapy residue.
Let’s get started!
Items You Will Need
- A medium-sized bowl
- A mild soap or tea tree oil
- A toothbrush
- A rat tail comb or any thin, pointed piece of plastic
- A pair of scissors
- A washcloth
- A paper towel or cloth
1. Remove Hair From the Wooden Hairbrush
The first step is to get rid of the hair trapped between the bristles of your wooden hairbrush. Take the tail end of your rat tail comb or any thin, pointy object and push it under the entangled hair at the base of the hairbrush. Gently pull up the hair to loosen it.
If there is a lot of hair, you may be able to pull the entire clump off the base of the hairbrush. For hair that stubbornly clings to the bristles, you can use a pair of small, long-nosed scissors to snip the hair in the center of the hairbrush so that it becomes easier to pull off.
This is particularly helpful if the hair is tightly twisted around the bristles. Be careful not to cut off the bristles of the hairbrush. You can do this by maintaining the scissors parallel to the bristles, as it avoids having the blades cut the bristles by accident.
Next, using just your fingers, pull out the hair that you managed to loosen until all the hair has been removed from the base of the hairbrush. For round wooden hairbrushes, keep turning the hairbrush around until you have gotten all the hair.
Important Note: Make sure you do not try to yank out the hair from the wooden hairbrush and take care not to bend, break or pull out the bristles.
2. Prepare a Cleaning Solution
You’ll now need to prepare an effective cleaning solution to remove the dirt, oil, and product residue that is trapped on the wooden hairbrush.
Using Soap & Water
If you are opting for a soap and water solution, simply mix a teaspoon of mild liquid soap or shampoo with a cup of warm water in a medium-sized bowl. Avoid using solid soap or conditioner as most of them will stick to the wooden hairbrush and will become hard to remove.
Using Tea Tree Oil
If you prefer using tea tree oil, dilute 5 drops of tea tree oil in a cup of warm water in a medium-sized bowl. Tea tree oil is widely known for its benefits of being antifungal and antibacterial when applied topically and is commonly used in a diluted form.
Using tea tree oil is our preferred method when it comes to cleaning wooden hairbrushes, due to the abovementioned properties and ease of use. However, when in contact with your skin without dilution, tea tree oil may cause irritation. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to work with gloves.
3. Clean Your Wooden Hairbrush
Now it’s time to clean your wooden hairbrush, specifically the handle, base, and bristles. Keep in mind that you should not soak it in the solution that you’ve prepared. As it’s made of wood, prolonged exposure to water will cause it to absorb moisture, which will eventually cause it to rot.
Instead, follow the process below:
- Start by taking a soft, clean washcloth and dipping it into the cleaning solution.
- Then, wipe the wooden hairbrush down completely. This will help remove any surface dirt and grime. If you have a flat wooden hairbrush, wipe the front, back, and along the edges.
- Now, use any type of brush (even an unused toothbrush) to gently but firmly brush the bristle base horizontally and vertically, navigating around the bristles. Use moderate pressure to prevent bending, deforming, or breaking the bristles.
- If the bristles look dirty, give the bristle a light brush to gently clean them.
4. Rinse Your Wooden Hairbrush
Once you’ve finished cleaning your wooden hairbrush, it’s time to rinse it out. If you have used diluted tea tree oil, you should skip this step. If you have used a soap and water solution, then the soap will need to be washed off to prevent leftover residue.
You can either use a spray bottle filled with water and lightly spray the wooden hairbrush a few times or dip the toothbrush in some clean water. Gently brush the wooden components and between the rows of bristles to rinse off the soap.
Repeatedly remove soap from the toothbrush as well, before using it on your hairbrush. Remember not to soak the hairbrush in water to rinse it, due to its ability to absorb water, as we’ve outlined above.
5. Wipe It Down & Allow it to Dry
It is important to dry your wooden hairbrush completely before using it again. Leaving it damp causes a series of issues including rot, mold, mildew, bending, and breaking of bristles.
To dry your wooden hairbrush, use a clean cloth and wipe it down to remove any excess water that has accumulated on the surface during the rinsing process. Then, place the wooden hairbrush bristle-side down or on its side on a clean dry towel in an airy and ventilated place and allow it to dry overnight.
The best places for drying include:
- On a balcony
- On a verandah
- Near an open window
- Near a fan
Wooden hairbrushes require a longer time to dry compared to brushes that are made of metal or plastic, as they absorb water. Avoid using any heat setting on your hair dryer if you wish to accelerate the drying process.
Direct exposure to heat can deform or damage the bristles of your brush, or even the wooden base if exposed long enough. Make sure the hairbrush is completely dry before using or storing it.
Frequently Asked Questions
As you can see, cleaning a wooden hairbrush is straightforward. However, it does require care and some effort. Let’s take a look at some of the common questions our readers have sent in.
Why Do I Need to Clean My Wooden Hairbrush?
When you brush your hair, things like dead skin cells, dandruff, sebum (natural oils on your head), sweat, salt particles, product residue, and dirt can transfer from your head to the hairbrush.
If it’s not cleaned regularly, it results in a buildup of debris and residue which redeposits back onto your hair strands and scalp, affecting scalp and hair health. A dirty hairbrush becomes a breeding ground for dust, bacteria, and mites.
Using a dirty hairbrush can cause a dry and itchy scalp and greasy hair. In addition, not cleaning your wooden hairbrush prevents it from working effectively.
How Often Should I Clean My Wooden Brush?
There is no fixed rule on how often you should clean your wooden hairbrush. It depends on the hair products used and how often you brush your hair with them. For instance, if you use hair products such as hairsprays, gels, mousse, styling creams, or similar products regularly, then we recommend that you clean your wooden hairbrush once every 1 to 2 weeks.
If you do not use styling products, then you can get away with cleaning your hairbrush every 2 to 4 weeks. Aim to remove the accumulated hair from your wooden hairbrush after each use, or once every 1-2 days at least to prevent a web of hair from building up on the brush.
What If I Don’t Have Time for the Brush to Dry Naturally?
If you use a wooden hair brush that has natural bristles, using it wet can break or bend them. Since wood is porous, wooden hairbrushes will take a longer amount of time to dry completely compared to plastic or synthetic ones.
That is why we recommend that you allow the brush to air dry overnight. However, if there isn’t enough time, you can use a hair dryer in a low-temperature setting. Using hot air to blow dry could damage the wooden brush.
What Can I Do When There is a Buildup of Lint and Dust?
Dust and lint settle on your hairbrush naturally, resulting in a buildup, even if you clean your hairbrush regularly. To help prevent a large buildup of lint and dust, consider storing your hairbrush in a drawer or cabinet.
Also, keep your hairbrush upright so that it won’t accumulate too much debris. When cleaning your hairbrush, the lint and dust buildup is also cleaned off.
How Can I Sanitize My Wooden Hairbrush After Lice?
Your wooden hairbrush can host lice and can be transferred to others if you share it. To get rid of lice on your hairbrush, follow the cleaning process we detailed above. Just replace the tea tree oil with a medicated shampoo or rubbing alcohol that can effectively remove lice.
If your hairbrush has natural bristles, use rubbing alcohol sparingly since that can dry out the bristles, making them prone to breakage.
Sirinan is a self-proclaimed cleanaholic and the editor-in-chief of Cleaney. Apart from coming with up creative ways to keep her living spaces clean and tidy, she loves to read on rainy days.