Brushing your horse down is a daily activity. Even if you use multiple brushes, you know how much dirt and dust can accumulate on their bristles in a short amount of time. It's important to keep your grooming tools clean because they help keep your horse clean, free of parasites, and healthy. Bonus: brushing daily improves blood flow to your horse's skin, and keeps their skin and coat in top shape. You only need a few items and a little time to keep your horse brushes in tiptop shape.
What You Need for Cleaning
Before you begin cleaning your horse brushes, you'll need to grab the following materials:
Large container: You need to find a container that's just the right size for your brushes. A plastic tub with a lid is ideal, but any container that has some weight to it and can hold all of your brushes will work just fine.
Warm water: You don't need hot or cold water. Warm water will work fine.
Mild soap: Use something non-abrasive, such as Dawn, if you have a synthetic brush.
Horse shampoo: Use this if you have a natural brush, especially one made from horse hair.
Optional: Curry comb or shedding blade to scrape against the brush tips.
Alternatively, you can use a powder product, such as Brush Therapy, that is specifically designed to clean horse brushes. Powder cleaning products dissolve in warm water and work in a way similar to a liquid soap or detergent.
If you can avoid it, don't share grooming equipment between your horses, and assign a brush for each horse you groom. This helps prevent the spread of disease.
Steps for Cleaning Synthetic Brushes
Take the following steps to properly clean your horse's brush if it's synthetic:
- Remove any debris from the brush.
- Fill your large bucket or container with warm water after adding a small amount of your chosen soap to the bottom.
- Submerge your brushes in the soapy water, and allow the brushes to sit for 10 to 15 minutes in the solution.
- If you are cleaning two or more brushes, gently rub their bristles together to dislodge dirt and debris.
- If you are cleaning a single brush, hand-clean the brush to remove any residual debris.
- Rinse your brush, and repeat the process as needed until your rinse water is clear.
- Allow the brush to air dry completely overnight before putting it away so that there are no germs or bacteria left on it.
Synthetic brushes are a bit more forgiving when it comes to cleaning. If your brush's handle is plastic and its bristles are synthetic, in some cases you can wash it on the top rack in your dishwasher (check with the manufacturer first, though).
Steps for Cleaning Natural Brushes
Cleaning natural brushes is different from cleaning synthetic brushes. Natural brushes need to be handled more carefully. To clean your horse's natural brush, follow these steps:
- Remove as much debris from the brush as possible. You can use a curry comb or shedding blade to help.
- Rinse with warm, clean water.
- Carefully work your chosen soap through the bristles of the brush.
- If your brush is especially dirty, you can mix your gently soap with water and dip just the bristles in to soak for a minute or two.
- Rinse again with warm, clean water until there isn't anymore soap residue.
- Repeat the process if the brush is not yet clean, until the rinse water runs clear.
- Allow to air dry overnight, with the bristles pointed up.
Do not submerge a natural wooden handle brush in the cleaning solution. Just dip the bristles in, and don't submerge the wood.
Sanitize Your Horse Brushes After Each Use
When you use a horse brush on a dirty horse, it's easy for dirt, mud, sebum, and bacteria to get caught in the bristles of the brush. If you don't sanitize your horse brushes after each use, this dirt could spread germs from one horse to another if you allow other horses to use the same brush before it has been disinfected.
Soak your bristle-style brush in warm water with disinfectant until all traces of dirt have been removed from the bristles. Rinse well with running water before drying thoroughly with a towel or rag.
These Brush Cleaning Tips Keep Your Equipment in Top Shape
To keep the brushes as clean as possible, follow these tips:
- If you want to store your brushes in a container such as a plastic tub, be sure they do not touch each other while they dry between uses or they may transfer germs from one brush to another.
- Wash the bristles with an old toothbrush (or similar) to remove dirt from between them if necessary.
- If the bristles come loose from the handle during cleaning, it could be because you used a harsh detergent or fabric softener that damaged the glue holding them together.
- Avoid using soaps that contain bleach or other harsh chemicals, which can damage rubber grips and leave residue behind on products made from wood or plastic wood grain.
- If you are using a wooden or plastic brush, you should oil or condition them once or twice a year to keep them in good shape.
Keep Your Horse Brushes Clean With Regular Maintenance
Clean your horse brushes regularly to prevent the spread of disease and infection. Ideally, try to build this process into your daily routine. If a brush is dirty or wet, it can cause skin problems for your horse and make them uncomfortable. Now that you know how to clean horse brushes, it's time to get started. This process is simple when you know how to do it correctly.