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How To Clean Acrylic Nail Brushes [The How-To Guide]

Keeping your brushes clean and in good shape is essential. It makes application easier, adhesion better, and your designs superior. And not only does keeping your brushes in good working order help keep your nails sanitary, but it also keeps your tools in tip-top shape longer. The result – less replacing and getting more out of your purchases. All excellent reasons to take cleaning seriously. But how do you do so? Let’s find out!

So, how do you clean Acrylic nail brushes? There are three different solutions that you can use to clean your acrylic nail brushes; using monomer, specially-made brush cleaner, or acetone. Soaking time varies per method, as do the exact steps involved. Regardless of the product you use, you should clean your brushes after every use.

No matter what your favorite style of nail art is, hygiene is imperative.

And without a doubt, you simply have to use clean tools – every single time. 

But I get it; how you actually go about cleaning, mainly your acrylic nail brushes, can be confusing.

Thankfully, there are a few ways to do it so that you can choose the method you prefer.

How To Clean Acrylic Nail Brushes With Monomer 

Follow any instructions that came with your brush. If there weren’t any, start off by soaking your brush in monomer. The exact time needed varies. Carefully rinse with warm water. Air dry, then soak in monomer for two more hours. Repeat the air-drying step.

By far, the simplest and most common way to clean an acrylic nail brush is by using the monomer that you were using on your nails. 

(Or, if possible, a monomer that you’ve set aside specifically for this. But either will work :).) 

It might seem counterintuitive, but the monomer can help eliminate any lumps or other debris that can build up in your brush. 

The process is very subjective, with the time depending on how dirty the brush is, and the kind of shape that you leave it in. 

You should be able to clean almost anything in under twenty-four hours, though.

Before you begin, make sure that your brushes didn’t come with instructions. 

Many do. If yours does have instructions for cleaning, follow them. 

They’re designed specifically for your product and aren’t the general how-to we’re providing here.

No instructions? Then we’re here to help!

Start by filling a shallow dish or bowl with your monomer of choice. 

Choosing to use a monomer explicitly kept for this isn’t required, but it can make it easier to know if it’s come in contact with other chemicals. 

What you use on your nails is fine if you can’t splurge on a cleaning-only bottle. 

Lay your brushes in the liquid, and let them soak. 

How long? It depends on how dirty they are. 

Two hours to start with is a good rule, and overnight should be long enough for even the dirtiest of brushes.

Once the soaking is done, gently rinse with warm water. 

Don’t scrub the bristles, and don’t try to reshape them. 

Just let the warm water wash the used monomer and any remaining gunk away. 

Afterward, lay horizontally on a soft cloth or towel to dry. 

When it’s dry, soak in fresh monomer for two more hours. 

Again, lie flat on a cloth or towel to dry. Make sure not to rinse after the second soak!

How To Clean Acrylic Nail Brushes Without Monomer

There are two non-monomer options for cleaning your brushes: specially-made brush cleaner and acetone. Neither come as recommended as monomer, but both can do the job. Each has a step-by-step process in order to do it correctly. Note that these are less gentle on your brushes than monomer.

If you don’t want to use monomer, there are other ways that you can clean your acrylic nail brushes. 

The two most common are with brush cleaners and acetone.

Brush cleaners follow a process similar to using monomer. 

As always, make sure that your brushes don’t come with care instructions before beginning. 

If they don’t, begin by filling a small bowl with just enough brush cleaner to submerge the bristles. 

You don’t want the metal band to get wet if you can help it. 

Handy tip: use a shot glass.

It’s easier, and you won’t use as much brush cleaner at once. 

Gently swish your brushes in the cleaner for about two minutes. 

The goal is to allow the cleaner to soak into the bristles. 

Note: gently is the key word here.

This next part is tricky and can be difficult to do right. 

Carefully press your brush’s bristles against a flat surface until they fan out. 

If you care about your brush, this may make you cringe, but keep going! 

Using a wooden tool such as an orangewood manicure stick, gently scrape down the bristles. 

Be gentle here, as you could damage the brush if you use too much force.

Avoid metal instruments. 

Press the bristles between two paper towels to remove the cleaner. 

Lastly, dip them in monomer and presto reshape the brush.

If your brush is really dirty, and you can’t seem to get it clean, you might need to bust out the acetone. 

Make sure you’re working with real acetone here: some nail polish removers don’t actually contain any!

This is the kind of one to get, from Amazon:

Start with the more gentle option: a pad soaked in acetone. 

Use that to try to work any lumps out, never going in the opposite direction of the brush.

It might take a while, but keep at it! 

This is going to be the easiest acetone option, so you’ll want to be sure that it doesn’t work before trying the next method.

If absolutely nothing else has worked so far, try soaking your brush in acetone. 

The setup is similar to soaking in monomer: only a bit of acetone, and don’t get the metal part too wet if you can manage it. 

This is a far more subjective option than the others, so you’ll have to keep an eye on your brush to be sure that you haven’t soaked too long. 

Once you’ve reached that magic moment, take your brush out and rinse with warm water. 

Finish by soaking your (hopefully now-clean) brush in monomer for two hours.

How Do I Keep My Acrylic Nail Brush From Getting Hard?

Make sure that you clean your brushes regularly. If your brushes are getting hard, try soaking in monomer for a few hours. Acetone can also be used, though it should be used carefully.

Here’s a secret that can keep your brushes from reaching dangerous levels of dried-on gunkiness: you don’t have to wait until they’re visibly dirty to clean them. 

In fact, if you clean your brushes regularly, you’ll find that they don’t become hard and are easier to clean.

So, start out on the right foot. 

When you get a new brush, try to clean them fairly often.

How often? That depends heavily on how much you use them. 

Someone that does nails on a regular basis will need to clean them more regularly than someone that only does their nails once a month or so.

Besides regular cleaning, there’s a couple of things you can do. 

Regular soaks in monomer can keep your acrylic nail brush in the soft shape that you’re aiming for. 

So, on occasion, soak your nail brush in monomer for two hours, and let dry. 

You can also try wiping it down with some brush cleaner soaked into a lint-free pad or cloth.

The biggest takeaway is that if you keep it cleaned properly, your brush shouldn’t get hard. 

Prevention is always better than a cure.

How Do You Restore An Acrylic Nail Brush?

Start with one of the cleaning methods mentioned above. Then, reshape your brush so that it’s in the ideal shape for later use. As always, finish off with a soak in monomer, and leave to dry on a soft cloth or towel.

Has your acrylic nail brush passed beyond cleaning and now needs a lot of TLC? 

If you’re too attached to throw it away, don’t worry: there are ways to restore it. 

You’ll just need a bit of patience and maybe some elbow grease.

Begin by cleaning your brush well.

If it’s extremely dirty, then you’ll probably want to try the acetone option first, and give it a good scrape with a wooden manicure stick. 

If you can help it, though, stick with the monomer option.

It really is the most gentle and should be able to get all but the absolute worst of the debris and detritus out.

Once you’ve cleaned your brush, it’s time to move on to reshaping. 

This is important because you need your bristles in the right shape to do their job correctly. 

If they’re splayed out and frayed, you’ll probably not be able to work with them.

One way of reshaping is the soap trick. 

While in the cleaning process, after you’ve rinsed your brush, apply one drop of mild liquid soap onto the bristles. 

Being very gentle, work the bristles back into the shape that you need them to be in. 

Afterward, wait forty-eight hours, and rinse with warm water. 

That should reshape your bristles into something usable again!

If you’re using brush cleaner, you have an opportunity to reshape during the process. 

When you’re pressing the brush between paper towels, carefully press in a way that shapes the bristles. 

You’ll want to be careful here, though, since it’s going to be easier to foul up the process.


Cleaning your acrylic nail brushes is all part of the process.

And by doing so you will be rewarded.

In fact, it’s one of the best ways to ensure your acrylic nail brushes work as best they can, you retain high hygiene standards, and best of all, your acrylic nails last much longer.

That being said, thankfully there are some excellent ways to restore a hard brush should you need to.

So, try one of the three methods outlined above. Follow the process involved.

And, enjoy your clean, fresh ‘new’ acrylic nail brushes.

You’re welcome😉