How to Care for Wood and Natural Fiber Brushes
Well-worn brushes are beautiful. Learn how to take care of them properly.
By Helen Thompson
Wooden brushes with natural fiber bristles are the zero-waste alternative to the billions of plastic dish brushes that end up in landfills every year. Unlike their plastic counterparts, they are made from wood and natural fibers so they eventually biodegrade.
Over time, you will notice that your wooden brushes and tools start to develop a patina and perhaps a crack or two in the woodgrain. Oxidation will appear in the way of dark spots and black wood, and some bristles may fall out at weaker parts of the woodgrain. These natural signs of aging are caused by exposure to water over time, and should not affect the overall performance of your brush.
While we think that this patina gives a beautiful old brush a certain character, there are some things that you can do that will slow the aging process.
Treat your brush
Most Helen Milan brushes arrive to you already treated. Every few weeks your brush can be re-treated with wood oil or wax to seal it.
Keep it dry between uses
Do not leave your brush in standing water between uses. Stand the brush on its bristles when resting to encourage the water to move away from the wood.
Clean your brush the right way
Wood has natural antibacterial properties and doesn’t need to be treated with harsh chemicals to clean it. In fact, chemicals like bleach will interfere with the antibacterial properties of the wood. Do not put your wood brush in the microwave or the dishwasher to disinfect as this will cause it to dry out. To clean and disinfect your wood dish brush, add a little liquid soap to a cup of vinegar and soak your brush in the liquid for about 10 minutes. Then rinse with hot water and lay (bristles down) to dry.
Remember that signs of age are natural. We avoid plastic and other synthetics because they don’t biodegrade. We choose wood and natural fibers because they do.