Taking care of your acrylic brush is just as important as the process of actually using it to lay acrylic down. Without a clean brush, your acrylic is sure to turn out clumpy and uneven… so how do you clean the nail acrylic brush after using it?

How is an Acrylic Nail Brush Used?

The brush is the key tool used in the art of acrylic nails. It is first dipped into a super-smelly liquid called monomer and then into the acrylic powder. The acrylic is full of macromolecules that are waiting to be bonded together; once they touch the monomer solution, the polymerization, or bonding process, begins.

The cool thing about acrylic is that it cures on its own. You don’t need a UV light to build acrylic nails as you do with something like poly gel. The acrylic quickly dries quickly due to a scientific process called dehydration synthesis, which basically means that the chemical reaction between the acrylic powder and the monomer liquid is causing water to evaporate.

The brush is then tapped down onto the nail form or half-cover nail tip to build a “second nail” over your natural nail bed. The best part is that acrylic is super strong, hard to break, and comes in thousands of different colors across the market.

What Kinds of Acrylic Brushes are There?

Long baby boomer nails

There are three main kinds of acrylic brushes plus about two dozen sizes. There are round, oval, and flat brushes, and each one has its own purpose and techniques. The round brush is the most commonly used brush for beginners; you can find more information about choosing the right brush if you’re an acrylic nail beginner on our blog.

The oval brush is the professional brush of choice as it perfectly smooths the acrylic down while being precise enough as the round brush to get straight lines.

The flat brush is often sold in very cheap acrylic sets because it is the easiest to mass-produce, but is rarely used in a professional salon setting. If a flat brush is used, it’s for covering large surfaces with acrylic.

Be sure to read our blog, “How to Crimp an Acrylic Nail Brush,” for some cool ways to turn a round brush into an oval one.

What Happens if I Don’t Clean My Brush?

Depending on your acrylic technique, you might have a minimally dirty brush after finishing a full set. However, if you’re a beginner or just haven’t quite mastered picking up and laying a bead yet, there’s a great chance that the acrylic is clumping in between the bristles of your brush or clogging the area where the ferrule meets the bristles.

This is problematic because a clumpy brush will create clumpy nails, and nobody wants that! If the acrylic is left to sit in the bristles and the brush is used repeatedly, the fibers of the brush will begin to fall out, and your brush will be ruined.

How do I Deep Clean my Acrylic Brush?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Dirty acrylic brush
  • Monomer liquid
  • Small glass


  1. Begin by rinsing the brush under some water to remove any free debris. Do NOT try to pull off any bits of acrylic, as you will likely rip the hairs out from the brush.
  2. Pour some monomer liquid into a glass. Do not use a plastic container as monomer has been known to have some weird chemical reactions with various plastics.
  3. Gently set your brush into the monomer liquid and wiggle the bristles around to saturate them.
  4. Wait two hours to overnight for the monomer to really penetrate the stuck acrylic.
  5. Once you’ve waited enough and the liquid is cloudy, swirl the brush around to remove any acrylic bits.
  6. Rinse the brush under water once again and make sure that there is no leftover acrylic. Repeat this process if there are still hard bits stuck in the brush.

Note: if you wait too long to clean your brush, it might be ruined forever. Sometimes the acrylic has bonded so much that it is impossible to remove.

Quick Recap

  • Acrylic brushes are important! Clean them after every use to prevent them from getting too bad.
  • The deep cleaning process is pretty simple but isn’t foolproof. A brush with acrylic that has been sitting in it for months is probably ruined.
  • Use Fairy Glamor acrylic powders for best results.
  • Also, try our high-quality Kolinsky acrylic brush!
October 24, 2021 — Fairy Glamor

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Fairy Glamor designs unique 3-in-1 dip and acrylic nail powders in Galveston, Texas. We're a 100% family owned business that was founded in 2020 and went from making handmaking powders in our spare bedroom to shipping out of a big warehouse. We believe in both quality and affordability--that's why our powders are used by both professional nail technicians and in homes. Our unique colors are hand-designed to give you gorgeous manicures that'll make your nails feel magical.