How to Clean Your Makeup Bag

How to Clean Your Makeup Bag

Keeping your makeup bag clean is a challenge. It looks pristine when new, but over time the spills and smudges accumulate and can’t be ignored anymore. Let’s own up to an embarrassing truth: Your makeup bag needs a makeover of its own!

It’s easier than you think to get your bag back in tip-top shape. We’ll show you quick and simple ways to clean it up, plus some good rules of thumb to make sure the makeup in your bag isn’t past its prime.

Bag-Cleaning Basics

How you clean your bag depends largely on the material it’s made of. If it’s a cloth or cloth-like material, washing the bag all over, inside and out, is an option, depending on how it’s constructed. In most cases, the safest way is to hand-wash your bag with a gentle dishwashing detergent.

If your bag is a bit more durable, toss it into a mesh bag (to protect zippers or VELCRO®) and put it in your washing machine, on the gentle wash cycle. In all cases, it’s best to air-dry your bag to avoid the potentially damaging high heat of a dryer.

If your bag is made of plastic or a plastic-like material, wiping it down is the way to go. To remove stubborn makeup, use what you would on your face—waterproof makeup remover applied with a cotton pad or soft cloth. It will help dissolve stuck-on foundation and long-wearing formulas.

To make sure your bag is disinfected, follow up with an alcohol-based cleansing wipe or spray-on disinfectant, and make sure it’s completely dry before you put makeup back inside.

What to Keep and What to Toss

Cleaning your makeup bag is great, but it’s also important to make sure that the makeup you store inside is still good to use! All makeup products have a “best by …” date, the time after opening by which you should use them up or discard them. There are some variations based on climate and storage conditions, but here are some general timelines to keep in mind (Tip: Use a permanent ink pen to write the date you opened it right on the product itself.):

  • Mascara and eyeliner (all types) – 3 to 6 months.
  • Cream, liquid, or stick foundations and concealers, cream blushes – 6 months to 1 year.
  • Powder-based products (e.g., blush, bronzer, highlighter, eyeshadow) – 2 to 3 years.
  • Lipstick, lip gloss, and lip pencils – 2 to 3 years.
  • Lip balm – 1 year.

Also, examine how your products look and smell. If there’s a noticeable change in the texture or colour, or if it begins to smell a bit “off,” it’s time to toss it!

Keeping your makeup brushes clean is important, too, and it’s not nearly as involved as you might think. We have some great tips for cleaning brushes, including one industry-insider shortcut to spruce up those brushes if you’re tight on time!


About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!