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Choosing the right brushes can be crucial, especially when you are starting out with leather shoe care. There are so many, and you may find it challenging to choose the right one to start with.

Here’s something to remember:

  • There are two types of brushes – one for buffing and one for polishing. Don’t mix them as they are essentially different.
  • Remember to use separate brushes when polishing your shoes of darker shades and that used on light shaded shoes.

So, let’s start with differentiating between brushes for buffing and for finishing, we will then investigate the different brushes that you may come to know more of.

First, shoe brushes for buffing. These brushes are not for applying polishes but to buff the polish off to maximise the shine on your shoes. To apply polishes, you should, perhaps, use a cotton chamois, but that’s a topic for another time.

  • Horse hair brush: This is the primary brush you use to shine your shoes. When polishes are applied, you will use this to buff off the polish to produce a shine on your shoes. A good horsehair brush will ensure that when buffing the polish, you get substantially less shedding than you would with an ordinary brush. The density of the bristle is also essential, which we'll touch on soon.
  • Pig or boar hair brush: This is used to get the polish off your shoes more than buffing a shine. Especially, if you have pebble grain or textured shoes that are usually more susceptible to accumulating polishes, the pig bristle brush will better get into the grain to remove it. The tougher boar hair gets deeper in the leather to remove accumulated polish and dirt. This will be an ideal brush to have to give the leather shoes a good cleaning.

Next, we look at shoe brushes for polishing.

  • Goat hair brush: This has a softer bristle. The purpose of this brush is mainly for dusting the shoes at the end or start of your day. The soft bristle is usually sufficiently firm to remove dirt yet delicate enough not to disturb the texture of the shine.

  • Yak hair brush: Best used for final dust-off after a shine. It is a very rare shoeshine brush in the world and it is only made by hand it seems. It is incredibly soft, and its dense bristle is unique.

You may also, along the way, acquired a few pairs of suede or nubuck shoes. So here’s some quick notes on the brushes for suede or nubuck:

  • A synthetic brush can serve as a good cleaning brush because its harsh bristle makes the brush a great tool for cleaning rougher hair, such as suede or nubuck. This brush can be used to remove stains and shine from the shoe.

  • A crepe brush is a great tool to brush suede and nubuck shoes and make them nice and clean. The soft crepe (rubber) ensures the leather is cleaned and restored correctly. It is also used to re-fluff the nap on suede and nubuck. The soft and sticky texture of the natural rubber makes it great for delicate leather.

  • Brass wire can remove dirt from suede and nubuck without damaging the leather. But beware, you may not want to use this on delicate materials.
In our subsequent discussion, we will deep dive into more about bristle density and its effect on your leather when removing dirt from your leather surface. Stay tuned!
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