Get a handle on dirty jobs with latest specialty brushes

Brushes wisk away dirt without scratching the surface
Brushes wisk away dirt without scratching the surface

A towel and elbow grease aren't always the best choices for shining your vehicle.

Sometimes a brush is the right answer.   

“Brushes are great when you need to gently agitate while letting particulates get washed away,” said Jim Dvorak of Mothers, a polish company based in Southern California. “Especially with muddy areas, a towel would rub the particulates into the finish and potentially scratch it.”

Bigger brushes are invaluable for cleaning large areas in a matter of minutes, but every vehicle has crevices and hard-to-reach corners in need of special attention. Smaller brushes with ultra-soft bristles are ideal in those instances.

Dvorak knows selecting the right tool not only does the job properly, it can also make the process less messy.

“For a fender, you'd want a brush with a longer handle, that way you can wash away the grease without dirtying your hands,” he said.

Finding a brush that won't damage a vehicle's paint can't be overstated. Boar’s hair, as well as some nylon and plastic bristles, is soft enough to sweep away dust, yet gentle enough not to leave behind swirls and scratches harsher materials create.

Brushes come in a variety of styles for cleaning around a vehicle’s various emblems, trims and grilles. As utilitarian as automotive brushes can be, there isn't one that can handle every task efficiently, Dvorak said.

Dvorak says to look for a brush with coarser, thicker bristles appropriate for knocking grime and debris from the sidewalls of your tires. A lightweight brush with soft bristles is the best for removing caked dirt and dust from brakes.

Brushes also can help with interior cleaning, Dvorak said. Scratch-free bristles, similar to those used for wheels and fenders, can help lift soil from upholstery.

A note of caution: Fight the temptation to use a brush on both the interior and exterior, as it can transfer stains into the fabric of the floors and seats.

Dvorak offered the following suggestions for using brushes in vehicle cleaning:

  • Use brushes to remove dirt and particles from a vehicle, while a towel may grind them into the paint and finish.
  • Select the right brushes for the job. They come in a variety of sizes and textures for specific tasks.
  • Do not use exterior brushes on interior cleaning. They can transfer dirt and may stain your upholstery.
  • Nylon and soft plastic bristles are ideal for cleaning fabric and paint, while coarser bristles are better suited for tires and removing brake dust.