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How to Clean a Lint Brush

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Owning a lint brush is handy for just about everyone, but very important for people who wear a lot of black, have pets who shed a lot, or a combination of both. It is easy to use this tool when it is new, but unless you know how to clean a lint brush, it will lose its effectiveness very quickly.

How to Clean a Lint Brush

Lint brushes are designed in a specific way to catch lint from clothing when you rub it along the surface. Make sure you pay attention to the direction that the teeth are facing so that you can both use and clean the brush correctly. The “grain” is the direction that the teeth, or bristles, lean toward.

Move your hand along the brush bristles. If it feels soft, you are going with the grain. If it feels rough, you are going against the grain. When you use a lint brush to clean a garment, you brush it with your hand sideways, so consider that when trying to find the grain direction.

When using a lint brush to pick up lint, you want to move it along your clothing against the grain of the brush so that lint particles are grabbed by the teeth. To clean a lint brush, go in the opposite direction. Most brush manufacturers are also kind enough to place markings on the handle or base to show which way the lint brush should be used.

Cleaning a suit with a lint brush

Lint Brush Cleaning Methods

  • The first thing to try as far as cleaning a lint brush is to simply rub your fingers or palm along the top of it, going with the grain. This will pick up much of the surface lint but there may be some difficult lint left over.
  • If for some reason your hands are very dry, it can be hard to move the lint. You might try moistening them first, but this may cause additional dirt to stick to your hands.
  • A cloth dampened with water can work well. Use as little water as possible, wring out the cloth as much as possible so it is not dripping, and lightly rub against the grain of the brush. If water or other moisture collects in the padded base of a lint brush it can damage it over time.
  • To clean very dirty lint brushes that have dirt particles as well as lint in the base of the brush, a vacuum cleaner with a nozzle or detail attachment can be a very good choice. Avoid pressing too hard into the teeth as it may damage them.

Using Tape to Clean a Lint Brush

We all know that tape, whether it is masking tape or duct tape, is excellent at picking up lint, even when we don’t want it to. In a cleaning situation like this, it is a great tool to have around, and we can leverage that to help clean our lint brush.

When cleaning a lint brush with its short teeth, we will want to clean the lint off with quick motions in succession. To do that we need to set it up with a strong, easy to use base. Fingers are used in our example, but you could use any solid object like a sanding block or a ruler.

  1. Try the above methods first to remove the majority of the surface lint.
  2. Hold two to three fingers together.
  3. Wrap tape around the fingers, angled down to cover more area, with the sticky side facing out.
  4. Be sure the tape is not too tight. It may cut off your circulation.
  5. Starting on one end of the lint brush, press the tape into the teeth and bristles straight down.
  6. Pull up from the brush in a quick motion following the grain of the teeth.
  7. Repeat in quick movements.
  8. If the tape stops picking up lint, rotate it so that a lint-free sticky area is showing.
  9. The tape may need to be replaced after a while if it gathers too much lint.

Last Resorts for Cleaning a Stubborn Lint Brush

It is very rare, but sometimes long, thin threads get caught up in a lint brush and are very difficult to remove. In these cases, we might need to take some ideas from cleaning velcro, since the hook part is very similar to lint brush bristles. 

Be careful with any sharp objects, since the base that holds the bristles can be delicate. Also, each of these tools works best by going with the grain to avoid damaging the lint brush teeth.

  • A stiff toothbrush can get in between the bristles and latch onto difficult lint.
  • Toothpicks used with a gentle touch will be able to get underneath string and thread. Drag it, point first, across the base, but horizontally so it does not rip into the brush.
  • Tweezers allow for targeted lint cleaning but often will only pick up one thread or hair at a time.
  • Avoid something as sharp and stiff as a sewing needle. This can easily damage your lint brush.

How to Use a Lint Brush

A lint brush is just one of many types of lint removers. Many of the other lint removal tools focus on using a sticky surface to attract and pick up lint from your clothes. Unfortunately, when the stickiness runs out, you need to either replace the lint roller sheet, rinse it off, or otherwise restore the sticky factor.

The handle and body of a lint brush looks very similar to a normal hairbrush, but the teeth or bristles are very different. They are designed very similarly to the hook side of hook and loop, or Velcro, fasteners.

The teeth point toward one side of the brush and are sometimes even curved very slightly. When rubbed along the fabric, the teeth grab at loose fibers like lint and capture them in the base. Underneath the teeth is a soft padded base that helps the lint brush keep even pressure when pressed into fabric.

Lint Brush Considerations

  • Look at different lint brush designs. Some have two sides, and some have a button that will rotate the head around. These are both intended to make it easier to brush your sleeves when wearing a suit jacket or to help out when you need to switch hands.
  • Lint brushes can be almost impossible to use on sweaters or coats with thick piling. The teeth get caught in the fibers and make it difficult to brush the lint out. In these cases, a sticky lint roller may be a better option.
  • While they may be advertised to do the same thing, a clothing brush (or suit brush) will not work as well as a lint brush in removing hair or thread from clothing. They are excellent with brushing out dirt, dandruff, and other particles from suit fibers, but just move other lint around.
  • Natural lint brushes, often made of rubber or other soft materials can be effective on clothing with very smooth surfaces. However, with any type of loose fabric like cotton, they are very difficult to use properly without rubbing the cloth with a lot of force.

Conclusion

A lint brush, with its clever design, is not only very effective but also reusable and environmentally friendly. With tape and sticky rollers, you need to throw pieces and sheets away after they are clogged up with lint, but you can simply clean a lint brush, most of the time just by brushing it with your palm.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.