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How to choose a pipe-cleaning brush?

Shop for Pipe Cleaning Brushes

There are so many different brushes to choose from but focus on the bristle material and size to start with. There are so many variations of brush but the most important decisions you need to make are on size and bristle material.

Bristle material

Bristle material is the most important choice when choosing a pipe cleaning brush (AKA tube, interior, bottle brush) The most essential part of your brush is the bristles. These need to be the right stiffness and material to ensure you can carry out your task easily and without damaging your pipe.
Cleaning a plastic pipe with a softer pipe cleaning brush (AKA tube, spiral or bottle brush). Consider what you need the brush to do. Do you need to prepare a metal joint for soldering? Or do you need to clean a plastic pipe?
Metal pipe cleaning brush (AKA tube, spiral or twisted brush) being used to clean metal copper surfaces As a general rule, metal bristles should be used to remove corrosion and to prepare metal surfaces and plastic bristles on plastic pipes and for general cleaning.
Bleach can be used as a cleaning agent with pipe cleaning brushes (AKA tube, twisted or interior brushes) Another consideration when choosing the bristle material is: will you be using a cleaning agent? This could be water, soap or something stronger such as bleach or an acid.
Some pipe cleaning brushes (AKA tube, bottle or interior brushes) can be used in a range of chemical cleaning agents, others can't. Some bristle materials will be damaged in cleaning agents while others can be used in highly corrosive acids without worry. See What are pipe-cleaning brush bristles made of? for more information on the bristle materials available.


Diameter of a pipe cleaning brush (AKA tube, spiral, twisted, bottle brush The diameter of the bristles will be in the product description for a brush. If there is only one number present then it is the diameter of the bristles. Sometimes the length of the brush, stem or handle may also be written. All lengths will be in millimetres.
A pipe's internal diameter is not the same as its external diameter Ideally a pipe-cleaning brush should be slightly larger in diameter than the pipe. This is easily achieved by buying a pipe-cleaning brush that is described as having the same diameter as the pipe to be cleaned, for example, you can buy a 22mm (⅞”) brush to clean a 22mm copper pipe. This is because 22mm is the external diameter of the copper pipe and the internal diameter is actually 20.2mm (it has a wall thickness of 0.9mm).
Measurements of different parts of the pipe cleaning brush (AKA tube, bottle, interior brush) need to be considered. Other measurements that may affect your decision on which brush you choose include fill length (length of the bristles from the stem outwards), stem or core diameter and thread size (written in millimetres preceded by ‘M’ or using the British Whitworth Standard, preceded by ‘W’).
Double-wound stemmed pipe-cleaning brush (tube, spiral or twisted brush) The denseness of the bristles can be increased by choosing a double-wound stem but remember that double-wound stems are thicker and may not fit into the tube you need to clean.
A set of pipe-cleaning brushes (tube, spiral or twisted brushes) Brushes can be bought singly or in a set of various sizes or bristle material.

Still not sure?

There are so many different pipe cleaning brushes (AKA tube, spiral or twisted brushes) that it can be hard to choose Pipe-cleaning brushes are available in almost every size and shape you could require but it is sometimes hard to find the one you want with so many options and names. Talking to your supplier about what you need may help you narrow down the choices.
Your local shop can order in other pipe cleaning brushes (AKA tube, spiral, twisted brushes) if they don't have the one you want Some manufacturers offer to produce a brush to any specification you require but the most common ones are readily available on the market. If the brush you want is not on the shelf in your local shop they may be able to order the size you need through their supplier.