Detailing is the art and craft of cleaning and restoring a vehicle to a new-like condition. And if you want to do a good detailing job, making sure your cleaning tools are clean themselves is a must. Properly storing, cleaning, and maintaining your detailing tools will save you time and money in the long run.
Detailing brushes come in all types and sizes. There are many variations for different tasks. Some are for scrubbing while some others can be used to reach an area that is difficult to get to normally. If you want to use your detailing brushes for a long time, you need to know how to clean them.
This is why I put together the following tips for you, so your detailing brushes will last the longest time possible.
Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Detailing Brushes
Cleaning detailing brushes is easy if you know how to do it.
Here are some tips and tricks to make cleaning detailing brushes easy:
Protect the paint by removing stains and debris from the brush
Removing debris and stains from your detailing brushes is crucial in order for them to be safe for cleaning a car. Detailing brushes are used to clean delicate areas, so any kind of debris in them would lead to scratches. This is something you absolutely want to avoid!
First you need to remove the stains. Use a piece of wood to run the brush over gently. This loosens up any dirt inside the brush. Afterwards, wipe it with a rag to get rid of any rough dirt inside the brush.
The second step is to put the detailing brush into a bowl of warm water with dishwashing soap. This will loosen the fine dirt that is still inside the brush.
Soak the brush and swirl it for a couple of minutes. Use a washboard or gently scrub the bristles with another handled brush to rub all the dirt and grimes off. Rinse well and shake to remove excess water.
Disclaimer: Cleaning your detailing brushes with dish soap is absolutely fine. Cleaning the exterior of your car is not! I wrote an in depth article about cleaning a car with dish soap. Check it out, if you are considering to clean your car with dish soap.
Dry the brush with a rug. Let it hang on a hook to dry in the open air for a few hours. Once you are sure that the brush has dried completely, you can comb the brush to remove any loose hair. This is optional and not a must.
Once the cleaning process is finished, make sure to store the brush in a dry and clean place.
Super-clean your brush with vinegar
Bacteria can easily accumulate in detailing brushes. Even after cleaning, bacteria may survive and recolonize inside the brush. You can kill the bacteria and germs by using a diluted vinegar solution as a disinfectant. Regular or apple cider vinegar can be used to kill any germs that might be inhabiting on your brush.
The acid of vinegar is known to be a potent antimicrobial. Mixing it with warm water and using the solution on the brush can get rid of any germs it might have.
To disinfect the brush, add a cup of vinegar to two cups of scalding hot water. Also add a tablespoon of washing soda and borax. Then dip the brush inside the mix and keep it dipped for 5 minutes. Then leave it to drip and dry and your brush will be completely germ free.
Vinegar is great for cleaning parts of your detailing equipment and parts in the car. If you are curious to hear how you can utilize vinegar to clean your car, check this in depth post I have written about this topic.
Cleaning detailing brushes can take up to 20 minutes
You probably want to get your cleaning done as fast as possible. Cleaning the equipment is not the most fun activity when it comes to car detailing.
But rushing this process is only going to cost you money in the long run. You’re only creating more work for yourself in the future. If you rush, you’re going to miss spots and do things incorrectly.
Take your time. If you’re really short on time, pick just a couple of brushes or so and clean them properly. Come back later to clean the other ones. Pay complete focus and attention to detail. If you rush, leave your brushes cleaned improperly, they’ll decay faster. You’ll have to buy new ones more often. So, make sure to do a thorough cleaning.
Moreover, dirty brushes are likely to scratch the paint and other delicate surfaces. Taking enough time to clean the detail brushes will result in a better result and greatly reduces the risk of scratches.
Cleaning the brushes after using them makes your life much easier
When you’ve already worked for hours and finished a detailing job, cleaning the brushes is probably not on your mind. It can be alluring to just call it a day and leave your brushes uncleaned. But trust me, when it’s time for your next detailing job, it will come back to bite you.
Don’t let the dirt accumulate on your brushes. They will dry up and become much harder to clean. If you don’t clean your brushes for a long time, it might even become impossible to clean all the dirt off. Cleaning regularly and timely will save you a lot of hard work.
If you do not have the time or the nerves to perform a thorough cleaning after the detailing job, make sure to at least clean the brushes under running water with some dish soap. This will get rid of the rough dirt and makes a thorough cleaning much easier and faster.
Proper storage prevents double work
How and where you store your detailing brushes is important. You need to make sure that the brushes are completely dry before you store them. Your brushes will be very wet when you are done cleaning them. If you store them like that, the bristles will weaken over time. The handles of the brushes will also be damaged and get rusty if they are made of steel.
Once the brushes are completely dry, choose a dry and clean place to store them.
The best practice is to store detailing brushes hanging, with their bristles pointing downwards.
This drastically increases the longevitiy of your brushes.
If you’re storing your detailing brushes for an extended period of time, you should put them in a dry box.
Mistakes to Avoid
Cleaning detailing brushes the wrong way can damage them easily.
A damaged detailing brush is not only not effective anymore, it can also pose a risk for the car, as it is being cleaned.
There are some common cleaning mistakes many of us make while using and cleaning detailing brushes. You should try to avoid these as much as you can.
Avoid these mistakes when cleaning your detailing brushes:
Immersing the brush in water
Soaking detailing brushes for a short period of time is great in order to clean them thoroughly. Immersing the brush on the other hand is not beneficial but harmful.
Immersing the brush can destroy the bristles and the handle of them brush. This is especially true for detailing brushes with wooden handles. If your brush has a wooden handle, you should avoid keeping it soaked in water. Water is one of woods’ greatest enemies. Soaking wooden brushes in water for a long time can shorten their lifespan by a lot.
Storing damp brushes in an airtight container
Always make sure to dry your brushes before storing them. Never store wet brushes in an airtight container.
Otherwise, any remaining germs and bacteria will grom inside the bristles, possibly destroying the brush.
It is moreover possible for mold to grow inside the brushes, making it impossible to restore them.
If you want your detailing brushes to last a long time, make sure to only put them in an airtight container if they are fully dried.
Squeezing the brush
Once a brush is rinsed, shake out the water instead of squeezing it out.
If you squeeze the brush dry, you are risking the bristles to start shedding. This can completely ruin the brush.
Make sure to always shake out the water and then let the brush air dry.
When to Replace the Brush?
Watch out for signs that it may be time to replace your brush. If you find that your brushes are not getting clean as well as they used to then it might just be the time to get rid of them and replace them with new ones.
With the proper care and cleaning, detailing brushes can last a long time. But they are not eternal. There are some signs that can help understand when it’s time to replace your brush.
The main things you have to keep an eye on are the smell, color, and shape of your brush. It’s also important to check for shedding. As long as your brushes aren’t shedding, smell bad, or are severely discolored, they are still okay to use. You’ll notice that it gets harder and harder to clean the brushes with time.
Look out for the signs and you will be able to tell when it’s time to replace your brush. Don’t cheap out. If your brushes aren’t in good condition, the detailing job will also be lackluster.