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For other uses, see Brush (disambiguation).
Cleaning brushes

A brush is a tool with bristles, wire or other filaments, used for cleaning, grooming hair, make up, painting, surface finishing and for many other purposes. It is one of the most basic and versatile tools known to mankind, and the average household may contain several dozen varieties. It generally consists of a handle or block to which filaments are affixed either parallel- or perpendicular-wise, depending on the way the brush is to be gripped during use. The material of both the block and bristles or filaments is chosen to withstand hazards of its application, such as corrosive chemicals, heat or abrasion.


A common way of setting the bristles, brush filaments, in the brush is the staple or anchor set brush in which the filament is forced with a staple by the middle into a hole with a special driver and held there by the pressure against all of the walls of the hole and the portions of the staple nailed to the bottom of the hole. The staple can be replaced with a kind of anchor, which is a piece of rectangular profile wire that is anchored to the wall of the hole, like in most toothbrushes. Another way to attach the bristles to the surface can be found in the fused brush, in which instead of being inserted into a hole, a plastic fibre is welded to another plastic surface, giving the option to use different diameters of bristles in the same brush.

Configurations include twisted-in wire (e.g. bottle brushes), cylinders and disks (with bristles spread in one face or radially).

By function[edit]

Removal of material (cleaning and polishing)[edit]

Assortment of cleaning brushes, including bottle brushes

The action of these brushes is mainly in the tip of each flexible bristle which dislodges particles of matter.

  • Toothbrush
  • Floor brush (yard brush, yard broom, hand brush)
  • Scrubber
  • Shoe-polish brush (buffer)
  • Curling brush (sport)
  • Nailbrush
  • Milk-churn brush
  • Vacuum-cleaner brush
  • Archaeology brush
  • Lavatory brush (toilet brush or slang bog brush)
A clothes brush
  • Clothes brush, a brush for removing detritritus from clothing
  • Chip brush
  • Car-wash brush
  • Gun-barrel brush
  • Wire brush
  • Typewriter eraser brush
  • Dandy brush, for Horse grooming
  • Dishwashing brush
  • Beekeeper's brush
  • Bench-grinder brush
  • Rotary brush
  • Flue brush
  • Chimney brush
  • Bottle brush - long handled brush with rows of radial bristles, designed to fit into small mouthed bottles and access the larger interior.
  • Broom (long-handled brush)

Application of material[edit]

Assorted cosmetics and Make-up brushes
Make-up brushes

The action of such brushes is mostly from the sides, not the tip, contact with which releases material held by capillary action.


The action of these brushes is more akin to combing than brushing, that is they are used to straighten and untangle filaments. Certain varieties of hairbrush are however designed to brush the scalp itself free of material such as dead skin (dandruff) and to invigorate the skin of the scalp.



A toilet brush

Brushes used for cleaning come in various sizes. They vary in size ranging from that of a toothbrush, to the standard household version accompanied by a dustpan, to 36" deck brushes. There are brushes for cleaning tiny cracks and crevices and brushes for cleaning enormous warehouse floors. Brushes perform a multitude of cleaning tasks. For example, brushes lightly dust the tiniest figurine, they help scrub stains out of clothing and shoes, they remove grime from tires, and they remove the dirt and debris found on floors with the help of a dust pan. Specific brushes are used for diverse activities from cleaning vegetables, as a toilet brush, washing glass, cleaning tiles, and as a mild abrasive for sanding.

See also[edit]


  • The Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques in Art, Gerald W. R. Ward. Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-531391-8

External links[edit]