5-Minute Brush Primer

You need a new prep brush for your full-service wash. You’ve found your way to Kleen-Ritecorp.com, but what to buy? Thankfully you are choosing from a long list of good options with no real wrong answers. Homing in on the right brush for you and your wash means navigating multiple and widely varied price points based on dozens of combinations of bristle-types, block type, and size.

Let’s dig into the options.

Block Brushes

Straight Block: These typically measure 10 inches in width, and are occasionally found in 9” or 14” widths, and are the most basic car wash brush. They usually have a perimeter bumper to prevent scratching in case the block comes into contact with the paint. Perfectly functional and still the preferred style for self-serve washes. Many conveyor operators love the 14” size for surface area, but beware that it will not fit into most buckets.

Bi-Level: The bi-level block is an early improvement over the original straight block. Typically, the same 10” width as the straight block, the bi-level has essentially twice the surface area and creates two distinct bristle planes. This creates more surface area and allows for more consistent bristle contact with the vehicle and lower likelihood of block contact. With as much as twice the bristles as a straight block, these hold more soap and water – which is good – but are much heavier, which may not always be favorable.

Multi-Surface: This category features several block styles that are variably referred to as 3-sided, 5-sided, or round. In all cases, the intent is to create maximum surface area and minimal risk of block contact to vehicle. All are very good at holding soap and water, but are even heavier when wet than the bi-levels. It is a trade off you’ll need to consider.

Bristle Brushes

Polypropylene: Synthetic. Excellent overall chemical resistance. Most often used in brushes that require serious scrubbing abilities, like wheel brushes. Not the best choice for car wash brush for use on paint. Possibility of scratching paint with this bristle type. Low Price.

Polyester: Synthetic. Good chemical resistance. Similar look and feel to Nylon, but more economical. Low likelihood of scratching. Not a good choice for high pH presoaks. Moderate acid resistance. Mid-Price.

Nylon:   Synthetic. Excellent chemical resistance. Far lower likelihood of scratching compared to Polypropylene or Polyester. Will stand up well with high pH cleaners and pre-soaks. Very good soap/water retention and acid resistance. Higher priced within synthetic family and a very good alternative to hog hair.

Specialty: Encompasses synthetic bristle types like Noghair®, which is a synthetic material designed to mimic the feel, softness and wear of hog hair, but at the price of synthetics. Very good chemical resistance. Tapered, soft bristles very much like hog hair. Highest price of synthetics.

Hog Hair: Hog Hair is the most-commonly used natural animal fiber for car wash brush applications. Hog Hair is naturally soft and durable, making it the most sought-after type of bristle for luxury washes.  Premium does come with a price though, as Hog Hair brushes cost up to 10 times the cost of similar brushes using synthetic fibers. If you don’t mind the price, this is the best choice.

The Right Brush

You will readily find brushes with just about every combination of block and bristle. So, what’s the right choice?

In the end, they all work. The right choice for you is one that that meets your price point, personal preference, and the image and demographic of your wash. While a $10 Polypropylene brush may be functionally fine, you might not choose it for an upscale full-service wash opting, rather, for higher end brushes like Noghair® or natural Hog Hair filled brush. On the other hand, it is tough to beat the overall value of the premium synthetics once you consider that you can buy five to six of them for the price of one hog hair brush.

With no singular answer to the “Which brush for me?” question, savvy buyers will align their purchase with their budget, image and demographic and all will sleep well at night knowing they’ve made the right choice for them. 

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