How Often Should You Replace Your Hairbrush?

When was the last time you even thought about changing — or cleaning — your hairbrush? Peter Cade/Getty Images

You probably have a pretty standard morning routine that includes showering, brushing your teeth and then applying some makeup — or at least you did pre-pandemic. Now, though, at a bare minimum, you're likely to mindlessly run a brush through your hair to look presentable for those Zoom meetings.

And you probably replace your toothbrush roughly every three months because your dentist tells you to, but have you ever asked your stylist the same about your hairbrush? If you're like most of us and haven't really given it much thought, here are a few guidelines and why you should care.


When to Replace Your Hairbrush

Overall, replacing your hairbrush about every six to 12 months is a good baseline for most value-priced brushes; higher quality ones can last years with proper care. That said, the actual length of time they last will depend on other factors such as your hair type, the type of brush and how often you clean them.

You might not think using the incorrect brush for your hair type affects the life of the brush, but it can. Those with thick or curly hair may see wear sooner than others.


An old, dirty or otherwise broken-down brush isn't just unattractive on your countertop, it can actually cause a few issues beyond aesthetics. Gerard Cunningham, a retired cosmetologist and master colorist from Atlanta, says an old hairbrush can contribute to split ends and hair breakage. And bristles with oily buildup can make your just-washed hair look lackluster and weighed-down.

Perhaps more concerning is that a poorly maintained hairbrush can hide mold, yeast and bacteria. Eww! Those are NOT natural ingredients you want on your head. Brushing with that means you're basically just putting the ick you washed out right back onto your hair and scalp, which can further exacerbate issues like dandruff or cause redness and itching.


Caring for Your Haircare Tools

To help extend the life of your brush — therefore the health of your hair — you should remove hair from the bristles after every use and clean your brush once a week, either with a clarifying shampoo or baking soda solution and toothbrush if it shows product buildup.

If you're not into making such a fuss about hair tool maintenance, a quick and dirty sign that it's time to replace your hairbrush is when the bristles start to bend, separate, look melted or just fall out, depending on the type of brush. For combs, look for missing teeth, caked-on residue or a melted chalky appearance.