Here's Exactly How You Should Be Cleaning Your Combs

Add hair combs to the list of things that you probably aren't cleaning, but should be. Although it seems like a tedious chore, it's actually very necessary and not that difficult to do. To understand why combs should be cleaned, simply think about what they do. Combs are pulled through hair that's often treated with a lot of hair products, so a buildup on the comb occurs quickly. Then there's the fact that hair sports a significant amount of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells, which also transfer to the comb. 


Lastly, any dust or bacteria that the comb comes in contact with (by sitting on the counter or running through the hair) also piles on. All of this gunk gets run back through the hair each time the comb is used, thoroughly undoing any efforts made to keep the hair and scalp healthy and squeaky clean. It's more than just an aesthetic issue, though. Exposing the hair and scalp to these unsavory elements can cause or worsen problems like dandruff or dermatitis.

This is probably the easiest way to clean a comb

Dishwashers aren't just for kitchen items, as it turns out. In fact, as long as your comb is made of a material that can withstand the cycle, it can go in the dishwasher with no problem. This is a good option for metal or plastic combs, but never put a wooden comb in the machine. They are porous, which can cause water to sneak in and bacteria to develop in the crevices within. 


To use this handy, household appliance, place your comb on the top rack of the dishwasher and make sure to change the water temperature to cold (hot water can warp the material). Run it through the cycle and then air dry the comb fully. Incidentally, a clothes washing machine is another excellent appliance option for this purpose. Put the comb in with some sheets or towels so it doesn't make a huge amount of noise (remember, on a cold water setting), and remove it promptly upon finishing the cycle.

Here's how to do a standard soak

It's important to note that any type of soak is recommended only for combs — not brushes. Hair brushes simply have too many crevices and pads that water can sneak into, become trapped, and morph into mold. To do a simple sink soak to clean your comb (once again, not a wooden one), fill up the sink or a bowl with warm water and a teaspoon or so of shampoo. Do not place your comb into a sink with boiling water as it will likely be ruined. 


Let the comb soak for about 30 minutes, then use a clean toothbrush to scrub away any remaining signs of product residue. For extra oomph, soak your comb in hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to get rid of any lingering germs. Rinse the comb thoroughly and allow it to air dry before using it again. The comb should be completely sanitized and back to its original glory.

An alternative soaking method

This alternative soaking method requires fewer steps to produce a clean comb, but is a little bit more intense. First, find your distilled white vinegar or ammonia — whichever you have lying around the house (but do not mix them!). If using ammonia, make sure to crack a window, as the odor can be overwhelming for some people. Then, put one part of either cleaning solvent into four parts of water. Do this in a bucket or in the sink. 


Wearing gloves, place the plastic or metal comb in the solution and let it soak for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove the comb, then rinse it off and let it air dry fully before using it again. Be sure to drain and clean the sink or bucket so it's ready for the next use. This is the ideal way for fans of so-called "green cleaners" to get the job done without using any other potentially harsher products.

Wash wooden or rubber combs this way

Now it's time to discuss how wooden combs should be washed, although it's important to note that other types of combs can be cleaned in this same way. Obviously, it's taboo to soak wooden combs or brushes, but the alternative method is just as easy. 


Fill up a bowl or a sink with warm water, then add in a teaspoon of shampoo and swirl until the two are mixed. Then, dip a clean toothbrush into the mixture and gently scrub all parts of the comb, pausing to dip the brush again when needed. Rinse the comb thoroughly with warm water and allow it to air dry completely before running it back through those locks. No matter the material or preferred cleaning method, it's best to comb-clean about once per week if the comb gets a lot of use, and less if it's more of an occasional tool.