View Full Version : Weird Gray Stuff On My Comb

April 29th, 2008, 08:45 AM
Does anyone else get weird gray stuff on their combs? It kinda looks like gray lint. After I stopped using SLS shampoo I think it got greasier. I've never seen it on anyone else's combs or brushes. Maybe they're just better at cleaning them than I am?:confused:

heidi w.
April 29th, 2008, 08:55 AM
Does anyone else get weird gray stuff on their combs? It kinda looks like gray lint. After I stopped using SLS shampoo I think it got greasier. I've never seen it on anyone else's combs or brushes. Maybe they're just better at cleaning them than I am?:confused:

Um, that's buildup from product, minerals from the water and sebum -- all blended. I suspect it's kinda tacky feeling, waxy-ish? Yep, sebum. It may be a bit crumbly too.

Here's how I clean my combs.
FIRST, I clean my combs as part of EVERY SINGLE HAIR WASH. (I have a scalp skin condition, and certainly in my case, it's imperative that I not re-introduce bacteria and such back into the hair, especially on my scalp.)

I begin with a toothpick, gliding the pick up both sides of the teeth AND along the u curve where the teeth meet the bridge of the comb to loosen and lift the gunk.

Then I use my anti-bacterial shampoo and with a nail scrub brush, scrub my comb, inspecting for any hints of dirt left behind. (It can be really sticky and resist coming off.)

Then I have a jar of barbicide, a disinfectant used in salons BUT you can DISINFECT a PLASTIC comb by putting it on the top shelf of your dishwasher along with dishes. OR you can spritz with a concoction of water and rubbing alcohol, or use a cotton ball and swab the comb with a rubbing alcohol soaked cotton ball.

I have done a few disinfect methods with wood combs and horn combs as well, but these combs need to be dried VERY WELL AND IMMEDIATELY. A horn comb needs to have Lanolin Oil applied to replace moisture, or if left overly dry, in time, the horn comb will fizzure crack. Apply the lanolin to a paper towel, a few dots of it -- then rub the paper towel a bit to smear the lanolin oil into a patch. THEN rub the comb. You will see the shine come back.

Never leave wood and horn combs soaking in water.

heidi w.

April 29th, 2008, 08:56 AM
I get that stuff all the time on my brush (and I thought that I was the only one to get it! :)). I use one of the vent-type brushes with the balls on the end of each bristle, so it's very difficult to get off. I usually wait until it builds up a little bit before taking the time to pick off the gray lint. The dryness/consistency definitely changes, depending on what I've put in my hair, though I haven't gone SLS-free yet, so I can't tell you about changes due to that. Unfortunately, I have no idea what causes the build-up. Hopefully someone else can provide some insight. I just wanted to let you know that you aren't the only one.

April 29th, 2008, 09:20 AM
I would describe that stuff as white. I clean it off my hardwood comb by using a dish towel back and forth between the teeth as well as over the surface of the comb. I don't have scalp issues, so I only do this about once a week.

April 29th, 2008, 09:22 AM
I get this after I comb my dd5 hair. It looks like lint which I beleive is the fuzz I seem to always find in her hair.

April 29th, 2008, 09:33 AM
I know that I get a lot of lint/fuzz when I brush/comb my hair. I think my hair is just a lint/fuzz magnet! Actually, it probably sticks to my hair after I oil it (and I'm sure that having two blonde/orange cats helps just a bit with the lint/fuzz). I haven't been brushing or combing lately (just finger-combing) so I've forgotten about it. I used to use the paddle brushes with the little balls on the end of the bristles, and they're absolutely awful to try to clean the lint off of!

heidi w.
April 29th, 2008, 09:50 AM
For brushes, because of that sebum buildup in particular, fuzzy bits and other bits stick to brushes easily (combs too)!

Take up a comb and dig into the base of the brush and loosen, lift and remove what you can (excess hairs, etc). You can use a toothpick or similar item to do more detail work if necessary.

Using baking soda in water can help. Allow the brush to soak, and then remove and press dry with a towel and leave out in sun to full dry. ETA: Baking soda will dissolve the oils. I have been known to sprinkle Baking Soda on the brush, and then drip water drops on it to activate it.

ETA: You can then continue to clean in a usual method if you want to additionally, such as with a shampoo or dish soap.

For boar bristle brushes, you can put a dot or two of carrier oil on your palm, and rub the palms together, and then press the palm of your hand into the bristles of this brush to apply some trace amount of oil to this brush -- this is after you clean the brush.

I do scrub brush bristles with the nail scrub brush that I have.

Do consider replacing combs and brushes when necessary.

(For combs, see my above post)

This topic of cleaning combs and brushes points out the important hygiene tip: DO NOT SHARE BRUSHES AND COMBS. (Especially school aged children where lice can easily spread.) Bacteria can be shared this way too! And there are some favorable bacteria on the scalp skin for the acid mantle balance, BUT these can go out of whack, and you never know who's condition can spread to you.

You can spritz brushes similarly as I mention above with combs for disinfecting, as long as you then swipe clean and air dry thoroughly. Nice to do on a sunny windowsill.

Remember to also clean pillowcases and even pillows, sometimes. That yellow stain on pillows is from a long term head of hair and its sebum, etc.

heidi w.

Lady Godiva
April 29th, 2008, 12:38 PM
I also have become a regular comb and brush cleaner. I clean my combs at most shampooings, and I clean my husband's brush about once or twice per week (hey, I get on a roll...:silly: ). This way none of them ever develop much build-up. First I remove all shed hair (use a comb on the brush), and then I use my trusty cheap flexible nylon-bristle rug brush (used pre-vacuuming) to dig out the smaller stuff. I "scrub" everything while it's dry, working inside a plastic store bag in order to contain any airborne dust. I scrub in multiple directions, and this does a great job cleaning out the detritus.

Apart from actual cleaning, I habitually use three identical plastic combs in a certain order: the first comb for post-wash detangling and within the initial 24 hours, a second comb for the next 24 hours, and a third comb for beyond 48 hours until I shampoo again. The combs differ by color only. This way, I don't dirty up Day 1 hair with Day 3 comb, and I protect Day 1 comb from the extra build-up of my Day 3 scalp. Sticking with this system helps keep both my hair and combs slightly cleaner than if I didn't differentiate (and I'm prone to having a very oily scalp).

April 29th, 2008, 12:44 PM
I clean the comb when I start to notice the gunk. Depending on the time of year, that can vary from every time I wash my hair (once a week) to once a month (four washes). Right now I haven't cleaned my comb in a good month because the lint on it is very minimal and IMO not worth the time of cleaning off. However, it needs to get done soon anyway as the comb is overdue for an oiling.

April 29th, 2008, 10:35 PM
Great posts, Heidi. :)

Right now I'm only using my Mason Pearson combs because they are so easy to clean. I don't have much build up, but even the tiniest bit grosses me out, so I like having combs that I can just clean with a nail brush and anti bacterial dish soap. BTW, switching to an Aquis towel helped cut down on the amount of lint in my hair (and comb ;)).

April 30th, 2008, 02:09 AM
I started getting that stuff in my comb and brush immediately after starting to use shampoo bars. Thought it would go away with time, but it's still happening.

April 30th, 2008, 02:34 AM
I get that too on my brush! It started when I started WO washes, I'm waiting to see if it settles down as the scalp gets used to the "treatment". To clean the brush I remove all the bristles one by one, wash the "body" of the brush and insert the bristles again.

May 1st, 2008, 10:43 PM
I am so pleased with myself. :) I remembered to bring my brush into the shower with me for a shampoo. If I try washing it at the sink the soapy water gets flung all over but I can scrub away in the shower. What works for me is to scrub well between the bristles with a sparsely spaced plastic thing I have that was sold as a scalp massager. I scrubbed so well this time that some of the grey lint balled up and dropped onto the tub floor making me think I had a friendly little spider in there with me. :o The brush wash lets me use shampoos that didn't work on my hair which are fine for the brush and are sure to remove hair oils. Now the hairbrush smells like cake batter scented shampoo! :cheese:

May 2nd, 2008, 01:03 AM
Heidi, thanks for the instructions! I clean my combs all right, but the brush can be quite a challenge. Thanks again! :flower: