Hair hygiene

Hair Hygiene: The Cleaning Routine You Didn’t Know You Needed

Cleaner hair in no time.

There is a reason why “Clean with Me” Tik Toks continue to go viral: there is something inherently satisfying about watching homes transform from chaos to order in under thirty seconds. And while many of us do carry our #cleaningobsessed behaviors over to our real lives, there is one area that is often neglected: hair hygiene.

Hot tools, hairbrushes, and our less-than-perfect hair washing routines all contribute to the presence and buildup of oils and product residue, thereby creating a hotbed for bacteria. This will not only interfere with the health of your scalp and hair, but it will also cause a (literal) snag in your hair styling routine. If you have a hard enough time remembering to wash your makeup brushes and can’t fathom adding another task to your to-do list, read on for some expert tips for the best and most efficient hair hygiene practices.

Hair Hygiene: The Numbers Don’t Lie

Our studies show that significant number of American women neglect the regular cleaning and replacement of their hairbrushes and hair tools, and most of them also aren’t washing their hair properly. If you wipe down your kitchen counters every night, sweep the floors daily, and wouldn’t even consider sitting on your couch in “street clothes,” you might be in for a rude awakening when it comes to learning how your hair hygiene can likely be improved.

If you are anything like us, you have been using the same trusty hair straightener since high school because it’s still working and gets the job done. But when you take into consideration the accumulation of dirt, oils, and product residue that can build up over time, you might want to reconsider.

All Things Hair conducted a study about a hair hygiene and learned that 50% of the respondents said they clean their hairbrush just once a month, 24% once every few months, and 20% admitted to washing it once every few years or not at all. We also learned that 66% have owned their hairbrush for over a year, and 30% haven’t replaced theirs in over three years.

The hair tools statistics weren’t much better with 25% of women saying they clean their hair tools once every few years or not at all, and 44% saying they only clean their hair dryers once every few years or not at all.

Stats to Consider About Hair Cleanliness

  • 50% of women said they clean their hair brush just once a month, 24% once every few months and 20% admitted to washing it once every few years or not at all. The majority (66%) have owned their hairbrush for over a year, with 30% hanging on to theirs for 3+ years.
  • A quarter (25%) of women who own straighteners and curling tongs saying they clean them once every few years or not at all. 
  • Nearly half (44%) of respondents said they only clean their hair dryer once every few years or not at all. 
  • Nearly half of respondents (44%) wash their hair once or twice a week which isn’t as frequently as hair experts recommend. 
  • Only 18% of respondents said they were using the recommended product to wash their hair, that is, shampooing twice, followed by conditioner. 
  • Half of the respondents (48%) spend less than a minute rinsing product out of their hair, whereas only 16% of women spend the recommended amount of time thoroughly rinsing product out of their hair – that is 3+ minutes.  
hair hygiene comb brunette hair
Your hair tools might not be as clean as you think!

The Experts Weigh In

We spoke to Oscar Merlo and Tricia Oesterling, a hairstylist and colorist duo who have been doing hair in New York City since the 80s, about the cleanliness of hair tools and how essential it is for professionals and amateurs alike.

“The cleanliness of our tools is one of the important things besides our knowledge of our craft,” Merlo and Oesterling shared. “Basically, it stops cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria. Sanitizing combs, scissors, blades, brushes, etc., prevents the spread of illness. Natural oils, dust, and products easily build up on brushes and irons, and then it’s challenging to achieve your desired results with the hair. Our irons are especially important to remove product buildup, so it doesn’t snag, snap, or burn the hair.”

The experts went on to explain that the cleanliness of hair tools most definitely affects the health of their clients’ hair and the outcome of their hairstyles. “The same thing applies to people at home,” they shared. “It’s impossible to achieve great styling with dirty hair or dirty hair tools. The hair will look flat, greasy and sticky.”

How to Clean Your Hair Tools

Now that we understand the importance of cleaning hair tools, the obvious question is how? Stripping the hair tools of bacteria and product buildup without damaging them can be tricky, so be sure to follow these expert-approved tips.

Hair Dryers

The most important aspect of cleaning a hair dryer is cleaning out the filter. Pop or twist open the back of your hair dryer and separate the filter from the electronic portion of the tool. Wipe away dust and dirt and then soak the pieces in hot soapy water.

Once they are completely dry, you can put the dryer back together and rest assured you won’t be blowing bacteria-filled hot air onto your strands.

Hot Tools

Cleaning your other hot tools might require a bit more elbow grease depending on how long it’s been since you last cleaned them. Use a combination of rubbing alcohol and baking soda to create a paste and spread the paste over your still-warm hot tools that have been unplugged from the wall! The leftover heat will help loosen that buildup for easy removal.

Let the paste sit for 10-15 minutes and wipe the mixture away with a clean cloth.


Start by removing the hair from your hairbrush and let the brush soak in a hot water and shampoo mixture for 10 minutes. Experts recommend using a clean toothbrush to scrub between the bristles if there is a lot of buildup! Rinse the brush well with warm water and place it face down on a towel to dry.

When to Cut Your Losses

It is recommended to replace your hairbrush every 6-12 months and your hot tools every 2-7 years depending on wear and tear. Regularly cleaning your hair tools will no doubt guarantee a longer lifespan.

Hair Hygiene: How Often Do You Wash Your Hair?

And while we have seen our fair share of influencers bragging about washing their less than one time per week, hair experts recommend washing your hair much more frequently than that. 44% of those who responded to our poll said they wash their hair only once or twice a week, only 18% shampoo twice and follow with conditioner, and half only spend less than a minute rinsing product out of their hair rather than the recommended 3+ minutes.

hair hygiene towel hair
Focus in on your hair washing routine with a new perspective.

How to Wash Your Hair

Merlo and Oesterling stressed the importance of an intensive hair washing routine and the benefits of following the recommended process.

1. Start by brushing your scalp.

The experts recommend starting by lightly brush your dry hair to lift some of the residue from your scalp. The built-up of hair product, oils, and bacteria have likely made quite a home in your roots and might need some assistance on their way out.

2. Saturate your hair and start scrubbing.

Use warm water to saturate your hair fully so that you fully activate the benefits of your shampoo. Merlo and Oesterling recommend lathering it up in your hands and then applying it from the back to front of your head. Using the pads of your fingers, gently massage to clean your scalp, loosen up dirt, residue, oils, and skin flakes.

3. Stay focused.

“Focus on your scalp, and the hair will naturally get clean,” they say. “The scalp is your key to healthy hair; stimulating it with a light massage helps with nerve and blood flow.”

4. Rinse and condition.

Finish by rinsing with warm water for at least two minutes to avoid product buildup. When applying your conditioner, the experts recommend applying from mid-shaft to ends before bringing it up to the roots. The final rinse should be a bit cooler if you can handle it as it stimulates blood circulation and helps seal the cuticle for a frizz-free finish.

Set a reminder on your phone to clean your hairbrush and hot tools and add a little extra self-care to your hair washing routine. Your scalp and your strands will thank you!

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