A close-up photo of a clean polygel brush, bristles neatly arranged and residue-free, placed next to a bottle of brush cleaner and a microfiber cloth.

How To Clean Polygel Brushes: A Comprehensive Guide

If you use polygel for nail enhancements, you know how crucial it is to keep your brushes clean. Dirty polygel brushes can cause imperfections in your nail enhancement application and even infections. So proper brush care is a must.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Soak brushes in pure acetone or brush cleaner immediately after use to dissolve polygel residue. Then scrub with a stiff brush and rinse until clear. Let air dry.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about cleaning polygel brushes. You’ll learn about the best cleaners to use, step-by-step instructions for manual and deep cleaning, how often to clean brushes, drying and storage recommendations, and tips for keeping brushes in optimal condition.

Use the Right Cleaners

100% acetone

When it comes to cleaning polygel brushes, 100% acetone is the most effective solvent. Here’s why:

  • Acetone is designed to break down synthetic materials like polygel. It can quickly dissolve any dried gel residue on your brushes.
  • Compared to weaker nail polish removers, acetone acts faster at removing sticky buildup from bristles.
  • It’s inexpensive and easy to find at any drugstore or beauty supply retailer.

To clean with acetone, pour a small amount into a glass or plastic bowl. Dip your brush into the acetone and use your fingers to massage the bristles for 30 seconds. The acetone will break down the product so it rinses away easily. Follow up by washing the brush with dish soap and warm water.

Brush cleaner solution

Another option is a specialty brush cleaner formulated for beauty tools. These liquid solutions are gentler than acetone but still highly effective. Some popular picks include:

  • Beauty Secrets Professional Brush Cleaner
  • Isopropyl Alcohol and Brush Cleaner by Lavender Essentials
  • Cinema Secrets Cosmetics Brush Cleaner

To use, simply pour brush cleaner into a container and swirl your brushes for 15-30 seconds. The solution will instantly remove gel and residue. Follow up by rinsing with water. An added bonus is that many brush cleaners contain conditioning agents to soften bristles.

Dish soap

For a convenient everyday option, turn to dish soap for brush cleaning. A small dollop combined with warm water can lift away remaining debris dissolved by acetone or brush cleaner. Opt for a gentle formula without added moisturizers, which can leave behind residue.

Here’s a great tip: Fill a cup with warm water and a teaspoon of dish soap. Swish brushes for a minute or two. The soap molecules will surround the gel and wash it away. Rinse thoroughly and allow brushes to air dry.

While dish soap may not tackle dried gel as well alone, it’s perfectly suitable for quick cleanups between deep cleans. It also helps retain softness in natural hair bristles.

Clean After Every Use

Don’t let polygel dry

One of the most important tips for cleaning polygel brushes is to never let the polygel fully dry on the bristles. Once polygel hardens, it can be extremely difficult to remove. The key is to clean brushes immediately after each use while the product is still wet and pliable.

As soon as you are done sculpting a nail or doing a fill, take the time to swipe the bristles over a lint-free wipe or paper towel to remove excess wet gel. Then, while it’s still moist, use brush cleaner or acetone to break down and dissolve any remaining traces.

Taking just those couple quick minutes each time will make cleaning so much easier compared to waiting until the end and trying to scrub off layers of cured gel.

Quick clean for time efficiency

For polygel brush cleaning on the go, keep a small Tupperware-style container with brush cleaner or acetone handy right at your workspace. As soon as you finish using a brush, give it a quick swish through the solvent to instantly break down gel residues before they have a chance to harden.

This takes just seconds but will prevent bristles from getting stiff and clogged.

You can also use disposable lint-free wipes instead of a jar. Simply wipe brushes on the pad saturated in acetone or brush cleaner immediately after sculpting. The convenient individually wrapped wipes mean you’ll always have a fresh one ready to grab.

Schedule deep cleans regularly

While quick cleaning after each use is important, you should also set aside time regularly for a deeper cleaning session. Plan to do a thorough brush scrub at least once a week, especially if you use them daily. This helps remove any built-up residue that may still linger even after quick cleanings.

Fill a small bowl with brush cleaner, acetone or alcohol and swirl brushes to allow solvents to fully penetrate bristles and break down all traces of gel. For dried bits clinging to the base, carefully use a cuticle pusher to gently lift away any hardened leftover product.

After soaking for 5-10 minutes, wipe brushes with a lint-free pad to remove residue before washing with mild soap and water. Let air dry completely. The brush cleaning day is also the perfect time to reshape any bristles that may have gotten bent or splayed.

Use a small amount of cuticle oil on bristles when done to condition.

Regular deep cleanings keep brushes looking and performing like new for longer. Well-maintained tools are crucial for flawless polygel applications.

Manual Cleaning Steps

Keeping your polygel brushes clean is crucial for creating flawless nail enhancements. Here are the key steps to follow when manually washing your brushes:

Soak in acetone or brush cleaner

Start by fully submerging the bristles in 100% acetone or a specialized brush cleaner for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the product to penetrate and dissolve any remaining polygel resin, glue, polymers or oils.

Gently scrub with a stiff brush

Next, use a stiff, bristled cleansing brush to gently scrub the bristles. Apply light pressure and avoid bending the bristles. Concentrate on eliminating all visible debris and fully removing any remaining tacky residue.

Rinse thoroughly until clear

After scrubbing, rinse the brushes very thoroughly under running water until the water runs completely clear. This indicates that all residue has been successfully washed away. Thorough rinsing also prevents product buildup over time.

Air dry bristles facing down

Finally, use a brush stand, tower or wiping cloth to hold the brushes with the bristles facing down as they air dry. Let them dry completely before using again. Gravity will help excess moisture drain instead of settling at the ferrule.

Properly and regularly cleaning polygel brushes ensures precise application and extensions that last. Make it the final step of your process to prep the tools for the next fabulous set!

Deep Cleaning Techniques

Keeping your polygel brushes clean is crucial for achieving flawless polygel applications. Over time, residue can build up and harden on the bristles, making it difficult to evenly sculpt and shape the product.

Using the following thorough cleaning methods will help restore brushes to like-new condition.

Use a Rotating Brush Cleaner

A rotating brush cleaner offers a powerful way to deep clean polygel brushes. These devices have a chamber filled with cleaning solution that spins, allowing bristles to be fully submerged and scrubbed.

Models like the Makartt Electric Brush Cleaner use a timer and various settings to customize the wash.

To use this technique:

  • Fill chamber with acetone or brush cleaner fluid
  • Insert brushes and set time based on dirtiness (5-10 minutes)
  • Optional: Use brush tool to manually spot treat stubborn areas
  • Rinse and let air dry

Soak in Acetone for 10-15 Minutes

A deep acetone soak allows the solution to fully penetrate bristles and break down hardened polygel bits. According to nail care brand LeChat, soaking for at least 10 minutes is recommended for thorough cleaning.

To achieve the best results:

  • Fill small bowl or jar with enough acetone to submerge bristles
  • Swirl and move brushes around occasionally
  • Use a brush comb tool to remove any loosened bits
  • Rinse residue under water

Alternate Water and Acetone Rinses

Doing multiple rinses with alternating solutions helps flush away all traces of accumulated residue. The process of solvent, water, solvent, water works to tackle both water-soluble and acetone-soluble debris.

Here is a suggested 4-step rinsing method:

  1. Rinse brushes in acetone for 60-90 seconds
  2. Rinse in clean water for 60-90 seconds
  3. Repeat acetone rinse
  4. Repeat water rinse

Vigorously moving bristles against the bowl while rinsing helps dislodge clingy gel bits.

Let Brushes Dry Overnight

After a major cleaning session, it’s best to let brushes completely dry before using them again or storing. Acetone retention in the bristles can cause product application issues.

Follow these tips for proper drying:

  • Blot out excess moisture with a lint-free towel or wipe
  • Shape and smooth bristles
  • Lay flat or suspend with brush canister
  • Allow 12-24 hours to fully dry

Keep brushes in top condition by doing periodic deep cleans combined with quick cleaning steps between each use. Investing some time on maintenance will extend the life of quality nail brushes.

Proper Drying and Storage

Properly drying and storing your polygel brushes is crucial to prolonging their lifespan. Here are some best practices to follow:

Dry Bristles Facing Down

After cleaning your polygel brushes, always dry them with the bristles facing downwards. This allows gravity to pull any excess water or cleaning solution down the handle instead of having it pool in the bristles.

Leaving moisture in the bristles can breed bacteria and cause the bristles to deteriorate faster.

Lay the brushes on a clean, dry towel or paper towels and let them air dry completely before storage. Don’t use hairdryers or other heating methods as this can damage the bristles. It’s best to let them dry naturally.

Store in a Clean, Dry Case

Once fully dried, store polygel brushes in a clean, dry case or container. Zippered pouches, brush holders, or even resealable plastic bags work well. The storage should keep dust and debris away from the bristles to avoid contamination.

If storing for more than a couple weeks, place a brush guard or sleeve over the bristles. This maintains their shape better long term. Refresh the bristles with brush cleaner before the next use to remove any residual product on them.

Never Put Away Wet

No matter how rushed you are, never put polygel brushes away wet. This allows moisture to be trapped against the bristles for extended periods, encouraging bacterial growth, rust on the ferrule, and deterioration of the bristles themselves. It can quickly lead to permanent damage and brush failure.

Make the effort to thoroughly clean and dry polygel brushes before storage every time. Just 5 extra minutes can add weeks or months to their usable lifespan. For quicker drying, use multiple brushes and rotate between uses. Having duplicates makes cleaning less disruptive to your work flow.

By following these simple habits for properly drying and storing your polygel brushes, you can significantly extend how long they stay usable. Paying attention to the details goes a long way! Investing in quality brushes and caring for them properly saves money and hassle down the road.

Maintain Optimal Condition

Replace brushes regularly

Polygel brushes are meant to be replaced often to maintain proper bristle condition. The abrasive nature of polygel can quickly degrade and damage brush bristles over time. Experts recommend replacing polygel brushes every 2-4 weeks with frequent use.

This ensures the bristles remain soft and flexible enough to properly sculpt and shape polygel. Using worn out brushes can lead to poor application and an uneven finish.

Avoid crimping bristles

It’s important to store polygel brushes properly between uses. Leaving them bristle-side down on a hard surface can cause the bristles to become permanently bent and crimped. This damages their ability to smoothly comb through and apply the polygel.

After cleaning, gently shake excess water from the bristles and allow them to air dry with the bristles facing up or sideways. You can also invest in a brush stand designed to cradle and support the bristles.

Don’t use with traditional nail polish

While polygel brushes may seem similar to traditional nail art brushes, they should not be used interchangeably. The solvents in regular nail polishes can breakdown the glue used to hold the bristles of polygel brushes. Using them with traditional polishes leads to shedding and irreparable damage.

It’s best to reserve polygel brushes strictly for use with polygel applications.

By replacing brushes regularly, avoiding damage while storing, and using brushes only for their intended purpose, you can maximize their lifespan. Well-maintained brushes lead to easier and higher quality polygel applications. Keeping brushes in top shape takes minimal effort but pays off greatly in the functionality and longevity of your supplies.


Caring for your polygel brushes properly is crucial for creating flawless enhancements and avoiding infections. By using the right cleaners, cleaning after every use, following the proper manual and deep cleaning steps, drying and storing brushes correctly, and maintaining them in good condition, you’ll get the most out of your polygel brushes.

With this comprehensive guide, you now have all the tips you need for keeping your polygel brushes in optimal shape. Remember to clean them after each use and give them a thorough deep clean regularly.

Proper brush care will save you time and money in the long run while helping you achieve beautiful polygel results.

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