You’ve probably walked by the shoeshine stand at an airport or mall and marveled over the way that those professionals wield a shoe brush. You don’t have to leave the house to take care of your shoes like that, though. All you need is a good shoe brush and some other essentials.
If your shoes are dingy and battered, they’ll detract from your sharp looks. You shouldn’t wear a fine suit with shabby shoes. You can keep your shoes looking like new by using the right tools to clean, polish, and shine them. Learn more about the best shoe brushes for keeping your footwear in tip-top shape.
Our Top Picks
- Best Overall Choice – Foloda 3-Pack Brush Kit
- Best Premium Product – Rhino Bilt Boot Scraper
- Best Value Product – Alloda Shoe Cleaning/Scrub Brush
What is a Shoe Brush?
Shoe brushes are accessories that are used to clean and shine your footwear. There are various kinds of shoe brushes. Some are used for wiping off dust and debris. Others are better suited for use with polish to shine your shoes.
Types of Shoe Brushes
There are several types of shoe brushes. Each one has a different use and purpose.
The horsehair brush is perhaps the most common type of shoe brush. These usually have a wooden handle. The horsehair bristles are coarse, but they’re soft. They work well for shining leather shoes without damaging the surface. The flexible bristles get into all of the grooves and cracks on your shoes. They dislodge grime and other material that might be stuck in there.
The handle may be curved or flat. Curved handles are more ergonomic and may give you more precision.
The most durable horsehair brushes use solid hardwood and natural hair. A horsehair shoe brush should last for years.
Nylon Suede Brush
Suede and nubuck shoes have a distinct texture. The nap is soft and feels almost furry. If you get these shoes wet, the surface may feel hard and smooth. The suede could lose its unique softness.
A nylon suede brush is ideal for perking up these types of shoes. You can use it to clean off dirt while the shoes are dry. You’ll be surprised at how much degree lifts off of the shoes.
You can also use a nylon suede brush to restore the nap of your shoes after you clean them. Run the brush over the shoes. You can move it in one direction or back and forth. Depending on the condition of the shoes, you might have to create circular motions with the brush to restore the footwear to its original splendor.
Crepe Rubber Brush
Crepe rubber brushes are also used to clean and restore suede. They’re made out of a latex material that feels slightly sticky. When you rub the brush on suede, it lifts the nap and removes stains that have worked their way into the fabric.
Use this brush to remove light stains by rubbing it in the same direction as the nap. For tougher stains, brush in multiple directions to lift every bit of surface area and get rid of marks.
Brass brushes seem harsh to use on soft, pliable shoes. However, they’re perfect for restoring the nap on suede shoes after you’ve cleaned them with a nylon suede brush. You can also use these brushes after using a suede eraser to remove stains. Plus, they serve multiple purposes and clean tough stains around the house.
Coco Bristle Brushes
A brush with coco bristles is perfect for cleaning your rugged shoes. The bristles are short and thick. Therefore, they might be too abrasive to use on soft leather. But they’re perfect for removing caked-on dirt from the soles of your boots, shoes, and sneakers.
Some brushes are more heavy-duty than others. Boot scrubbers are large and durable. They usually sit on the floor and allow you to scrub your boots by wiping them on the brushes and stiff metal scrapers. These are also great for cleaning athletic shoes or any other footwear with defined tread. They remove dirt and mud so that you don’t track it into the house.
These brushes are used to polish your shoes. Many people apply shoe polish using a soft cloth. If you do that, you won’t always be able to work the product into every crack and crevice. A polish dauber brush has thin bristles that give you more access to hard-to-reach places.
Some of the shoe brushes that are available do double duty. They may have a soft brush on one side and a firmer one on the other. Many have shoehorns for handles. These help you slide your shoes on and off without damaging the back of the ankle.
Some shoe brushes are meant for shining shoes, while others are designed for cleaning. Make sure that you use the right shoe for the correct purpose. You don’t want to buff delicate leather with a brush that’s too rigid, or you’ll scratch it. On the other hand, some soft-bristled brushes aren’t ideal for using to scrub shoes because they’re just not tough enough.
What to Look for in a Shoe Brush
If you’re shopping for shoe brushes, you need to know a few things about their characteristics. Here are some things to look for in a shoe brush.
Shoe brushes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You might be familiar with the larger, rectangular brushes that have a wooden handle. The typical size for a shoe brush is about 6 to 8 inches. But they come in many other sizes.
Some shoe brushes, such as polish daubers, are round and only about 1 inch in diameter. Their small size allows them to sneak into tight spaces.
If you are planning to use one shoe brush on a variety of shoes, you might want to look for one that’s tapered. The broad end works on large surfaces, and the narrow edge helps you access smaller spaces. You won’t have to purchase many different brushes if you have one that varies in size.
Wood handles are usually stronger than plastic. However, both have their pros and cons.
Plastic can break more easily than wood. However, it’s waterproof. Plastic brushes can be used outdoors or with water. So can wood, but moisture can deteriorate the material over time. Water damage can lead to mold and mildew growth on the brush also.
You’ll notice that some shoe brushes have dark-colored bristles, while others have light-colored bristles. Some experts recommend using one brush for dark shoes and the other for light shoes.
When you buff polish off of your footwear using a shoe brush, some of the residual color stays on the brush. If you use that same brush on another pair of shoes, especially if they’re dramatically different in tone, you could create a streaky finish.
How to Use Shoe Brushes
Always remove the laces from your shoes before cleaning them. Polish can stain the laces. Also, you’ll be able to reach into the tight spots of the shoe better when the laces are off.
Clean off the shoes using a damp washcloth. Make sure that you remove any dirt or debris. If you leave it on, it can scratch the surface as you polish it. Dirt granules can also get trapped in the polish and make it look dull. Allow the shoes to dry completely.
Then, apply a thin layer of polish using the dauber brush. Use circular motions and a gentle touch. You don’t need a lot. Ensure that you cover all of the areas of the shoes, including the seams and the gap between the soles and the uppers.
Finally, shine your shoes using a rectangular horsehair brush. This brush will remove excess polish, leaving a thin coating on the footwear. Brush the shoes softly, using a brisk back-and-forth motion.
After you’ve done that, go over the shoes with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. Use the same repetitive movement to bring out the gleam in your footwear.
How to Care for a Shoe Brush
You don’t need to do much to maintain your shoe brushes. However, residual polish needs to be removed from your shoe brush periodically. To do that, wipe the brush on a clean, white washcloth. Then, turn the brush around and stroke it in the other direction.
Don’t use water, soap, or shampoo on your shoe brushes. Those products can damage the bristles, impairing the way that your shoe brush works.
Best Shoe Brushes: Reviewed
This brush is designed for shoe care professionals, but you can use it at home. The natural horsehair bristles are 1.18 inches long. They’re responsive but soft. They’ll lift the nap of the leather slightly to remove any dirt and bring out the best shine.
The beechwood handle is comfortable to hold because it’s concave. The gentle indentation gives your hand something to grasp. You can easily adjust your grip and change the angle of the brush as you need to. The fact that this brush helps you maintain a natural hand position means that your muscles won’t get fatigued as you use it.
The large brush size means that you can work on an ample region of your shoes or boots quickly. Because the bristles are so long, they last for quite a while. You won’t have to worry about them breaking down and losing effectiveness.
Plus, the wooden handle is smooth and not too porous. It won’t absorb polish and re-deposit it on your other shoes.
You can use this brush to shine more than your shoes. It works well on leather couches, jackets, hats, and bags. It even works on car upholstery.
- Concave handle is easy to grasp and maneuver
- Works on any leather products
- Large enough to get the job done quickly
- The brush sheds if you don’t use it gently
- Horsehair bristles are stiffer than some
This horsehair brush is a little shorter than the average shoe brush. The handle is 4.25-by-1.6 inches. It may fit better in smaller hands than some of the larger brushes that are out there. The small size also makes it great for travel. You can toss it in your luggage, briefcase, or purse to shine your shoes on the road.
The horsehair on this brush is extremely soft. You can use it on all of your delicate leather footwear. However, that doesn’t mean that the brush isn’t durable. It will stand up to heavy use and last a long time.
You can also use this brush to clean athletic sneakers. It works on every type of leather, not just dress shoes. It also stands up to some heavy scrubbing. Don’t be afraid to throw in some elbow grease. However, you don’t have to put in a lot of effort to remove dirt and debris from your shoes.
The multipurpose tool works on furniture, upholstery, and clothing as well as footwear. You can combine it with any shoe shine kit, and the brush is a great buffing tool.
- Smaller size may work better for some people
- Great for travel
- Mahogany wood is strong and attractive
- Hairs may loosen over time
- Too soft to clean the soles of most shoes
This shoe brush kit comes with everything that you need to polish and shine your leather shoes. The price is affordable, and you get a lot for the value.
The dual shoe polish brush has a dauber on one side and a polishing brush on the other. Use the small dauber to apply polish to small areas of the shoes. This brush really allows you to get into all of the cracks and tight areas. Then, flip it over to use the polishing brush to shine the shoes.
There is also a separate dauber brush that works well for spreading on paste, shoe cream, or polish. The set comes with two of these so that you can use them with a light and a dark polish for different shoes. For example, you can reserve one for your black shoes and the other for your brown leather.
One of the downsides to this set is that the bristles are fairly dark. If you’re trying to keep your black shoe polish separate from the brown products, you might have trouble identifying which cream you used with each brush.
Therefore, it’s easy to get confused. That’s one reason why it’s important to wipe the brushes on a clean washcloth to remove residue every time you use them.
The larger horsehair brush buffs away dullness to shine your shoes. You can use it on leather or synthetic materials. If that doesn’t make your shoes sparkle enough, use the soft microfiber cloth to add even more luster.
One of the problems that you may come across with some shoe brushes is that the bristles shed. This set seems to be more durable than some others, and you shouldn’t have to deal with loose or lost bristles.
- Comes with five pieces
- Large horsehair brush can be used on leather or synthetic fabric
- Durable bristles are not prone to shedding
- Polishing side of the dual brush is small
- Dark bristle color makes it hard to tell what color polish you used
You’ll get three different brushes in this kit, which is designed for suede or leather. The long handle dauber brush has a small head, which does detail work nicely. However, the extended handle gives you plenty of access to reach every part of the shoe.
The larger horsehair brush is excellent for taking care of buffing work on the primary surface of your shoes. Its ample size allows it to work quickly. It also works for maintaining bags, hats, coats, and furniture.
This brush has a concave handle, which provides a natural feel for your hand as you’re using it. You may find that you work more effectively when you’re comfortable.
One of the best things about this kit is that it comes with a crepe suede shoe brush. This works like an eraser to remove marks and stains from suede and nubuck. It’s easy to use. Just wait until the stains have dried, and buff them away.
The crepe brush works like a dry cleaning tool. It’s also useful for cleaning velvet. It’s gentle on the fabric and won’t abrade it.
You might want to use a clean suede brush to restore the nap after using the crepe brush. Unfortunately, this kit doesn’t come with a suede brush, though. It also doesn’t come with instructions. However, you should know that you can use the dauber brush to apply polish and the large horsehair brush to remove it, leaving behind a thin, protective film on the boots.
- Durable beechwood construction
- Great for cleaning leather, suede, and velvet
- Soft horsehair bristles
- Doesn’t come with a suede brush to restore the nap
- Bristles seem to shed easily
This compact kit contains more than shoe brushes. It also comes with a shoehorn and polish so that you have everything you need for taking care of your shoes. It’s perfect for travel, gifting, or using at home.
You’ll get two small dauber brushes, which you can use to apply different polish colors. That’s convenient because the kit comes with two polishes. The black polish is ideal for all of your dress shoes. The transparent polish cleans and seals any shade of leather.
You can even use the clear polish to make your sneakers look like new again. It will seal them, soften the leather, and provide some resistance to the elements.
The polish is of high quality and doesn’t dry out as easily as some other brands. Even if you don’t seal the containers properly, you don’t have to worry about the polish losing moisture. The polish goes on smoothly, and a little goes a long way.
Plus, the kit comes with a horsehair brush for buffing. There’s only one of those, however. You’ll need to make sure that you clean it after every use so that you don’t transfer black polish to your brown shoes.
The brushes are crafted with solid wood handles and 100% horsehair. The bristles resist corrosion and will clean leather without damaging it.
Finally, you’ll get a buffing cloth with this kit. You can use this to wipe off grime before polishing your shoes or to add extra gloss as your final step.
- Two dauber brushes allow you to apply two different polishes
- Transparent polish is versatile for any color of leather
- Polish doesn’t dry out
- Makes a great gift
- Compact and good for travel
- Dauber brushes don’t have extended handles
This boot scraper is a heavy-duty contraption that works as hard as you do. It’s an excellent outdoor boot brush and will remove excess mud, dirt, and grime from your shoes or boots. This deluxe version has five brushes to tackle even the hardest jobs.
You do have to mount it to a solid surface so that you can use as much pressure as you want to wipe your boots without knocking over the product.
If you’re looking for a durable boot scraper that can withstand the elements, you might want to consider this one. The base is made from corrugated plastic. It is resistant to mold or mildew.
The metal foundation is powder-coated to withstand rain, sun, snow, and other elements. It’s made of one sheet of steel, which is thick and hefty. This boot scraper was made to last. The wood that holds the bristles is resilient and weatherproof, making this an ideal boot scraper for patios, garages, farms, and any outdoor area.
The product comes with all of the hardware that you need to mount it. It also includes spikes, which you can drive into the ground to use it temporarily at a campsite or beach. You can also mount this indoors. However, you’ll get dirt and mud on your floors every time you use it.
This product is excellent for people with large boots. The 4.5-inch opening is extra wide to accommodate massive work boots.
The triple brush scrapes dirt from the bottoms of your shoes. The brushes at the side take care of the upper. The polymer bristles are durable and won’t shed.
- Five brushes clean boots thoroughly
- Extremely durable
- Extra-wide opening accommodates large boots
- Multiple mounting options, including temporary spikes
- Must be mounted to a solid surface
- Not ideal for delicate leather
This suede and nubuck leather cleaner is compact and versatile for cleaning specific types of shoes. It’s not designed for traditional leather. Save this for use on your soft shoes, such as suede desert boots.
One tool has multiple functions. The 4-way brush prevents you from needing other tools to clean and restore your suede shoes.
The welt surface has stiff bristles, which are ideal for removing intense stains and scuff marks. The nylon bristles are softer and gentler. Those are perfect for removing light scuff marks or taking care of more delicate shoes.
This product has a thin protruding brush, which gets into deep grooves and crevices. The rounded brush edge makes it easy to clean rounded surfaces.
You can use this brush with or without a cleaning product. Most experts recommend that you wait until stains on suede are dry before you try to remove them. The multiple brushes on this product should take care of that. If you try that and the stains don’t go away, you can use a suede cleaner.
The nylon brush will restore the nap to your footwear after you use a cleaning product.
- Can be used on jackets, furniture, upholstery, hats, and bags
- Compact size allows you to use it on small areas
- Removes salt marks
- Only suitable for suede and faux suede
- Metal bristles may stain light-colored shoes
Not all brushes are designed for shining your shoes. Some are great at scrubbing. You shouldn’t use the same brush to clean and shine your shoes.
First of all, the cleaning brushes tend to have stiff bristles that could create scratches and mar the surface of the leather. Second of all, the buffing brushes will gather dirt in their bristles if you use them for cleaning. Then, they won’t be able to shine your shoes properly.
The Alloda shoe brush, however, has two sides with different bristles. One side has 100% boar bristles. The other has nylon bristles. You can easily distinguish between the two sides.
Use the yellow bristles, which are made of boar’s hair, to remove dirt from delicate leather gently. The nylon bristles, which are black, are better suited for cleaning the soles of your shoes and other durable areas.
This brush is small and suitable for travel. It fits well in the palm of your hand. However, since it has bristles on both sides, it might feel prickly against your skin as you use it.
One of the best things about this brush is that you can use it on just about any material. It works just as well on fabric as it does on leather. Therefore, you can use it on canvas, patent leather, suede, nubuck, mesh, primeknit, flyknit, and other fabrics.
It comes in a protective storage box that will keep the bristles straight even when it’s in storage.
To use it with a shoe cleaner, dampen the yellow bristles. Apply the cleaning solution to the brush, and use gentle circular motions to wash the shoe. Then, follow the instructions for rinsing and drying on the cleaning solution’s manufacturer’s instructions
- Perfect for cleaning sneakers
- Suitable for multiple fabrics, including suede, leather, nubuck, mesh, and canvas
- Comes with a protective storage box
- Abrasive on your palm as you use it
- Not suitable for shining shoes
This kit comes with three brushes and a shine cloth. The crepe brush is ideal for erasing stains from nubuck and suede. You can use the synthetic bristle brush for cleaning tough stains on sneakers and soles. The horsehair brush is perfect for buffing and restoring shine to your shoes.
The horsehair brush features a concave wood handle. It’s comfortable to use and helps you maintain a good grip. The synthetic brush is smaller but has a wooden handle, as well.
If you travel a lot, you’ll probably find this kit to be convenient. It comes with a classy travel case that keeps everything together. Plus, the brush sizes are small enough to bring around with you.
You can use the various brushes in the kit to pre-clean, remove dry dirt, scrub your shoes using a cleaning solution, and shine your shoes to a glossy luster. The kit also works on purses, caps, belts, gloves, furniture, and other leather products.
- Comes with a travel case
- Includes three brushes and a shine cloth
- The horsehair brush may be too small for your needs.
- Some bristles might fall out during use
This boot scrubber won’t take up a lot of room on your doorstep and stands up to the elements. It is built to last, with durable plastic sides and a welded metal frame. You don’t have to worry about this product cracking, rotting, or disintegrating.
Rub your boots on the brushes to remove grass, mud, dirt, snow, and other debris. The brush is coarse enough to get rid of dried-on dirt. However, it won’t ruin your boots. Use it with leather work boots, rubber boots, cowboy boots, or any other type of rugged shoe.
The product comes with four screws and brackets so that you can mount it easily. You can attach it to the floor in a workshop, shed, garage, porch, or deck. When it’s attached securely, you can put all of your weight into it to get rid of all of the stubborn dirt on your shoes.
A built-in scraper cleans the soles and edges of your shoes. It’s made from high-quality metal that won’t bend or rust.
If you have large feet, you might prefer a foot scrubber with a wider opening. This one is narrow. Wide feet will press the bristles down so that they don’t sit perpendicularly to the boot. When that happens, the product doesn’t clean as well as it would otherwise.
Plus, the company gives back to people in need. They support causes that improve communities and make the world a better place.
- Plastic construction isn’t damaged by extreme heat, cold, or moisture
- Heavy-duty bristles clean stubborn dirt
- Build-in edge scraper
- Narrow footbed might not be ideal for large boots
- The mounting screws are weak
This contraption is simple but powerful. It contains two long, wide brushes that sit at an angle and clean the soles and sides of your shoes. The brushes are made of stiff bristles that get rid of dirt, contaminants, and bacteria. You can use the steel scraper below the brushes to scrape mud off of your shoes.
The bristles are attached to non-absorbent plastic blocks. The product won’t soak up water. Therefore, you can leave it outside, where it won’t be damaged by the elements. The steel tube frame is chrome plated and resists corrosion, impacts, and regular wear and tear.
Because this is a commercial product, it’s FDA-approved to be BPA free. Therefore, you can feel confident using it in
- Designed for commercial use and withstands heavy use
- Angled brushes get rid of dirt from bottoms and tops of shoes
- Large size may not be ideal for your home
- Does not come with mounting screws
You can use this brush to clean suede and nubuck along with a suede cleaning kit. You can also use it to brush dirt off of your shoes while it’s dry. It works on any suede materials, including couches, bags, and clothing.
The welt surface deep cleans areas that have intense staining. The arched half-circle brush takes care of marks on rounded areas of the shoe. There is a thin brush that protrudes to get in the cracks and crevices. Finally, the incorporated eraser is ideal for scrubbing off scuffs and dry stains.
You can use the nylon bristles to lift the nap on the suede after you use the brush. It restores your shoes after you’ve given them a good cleaning.
The brush is easy to use. You don’t need to pull out a bunch of different equipment. All of the accessories are incorporated into the head of the brush. The long handle lets you reach tight spots.
- Cleans salt and dirt stains
- Can be used alone or with a suede cleaner
- Easy to use
- May feel flimsy if you need to scrub powerfully
This is another kit that comes with a variety of brushes for an affordable price. It includes a total of seven brushes.
Two large horsehair brushes shine and polish your shoes. Two dauber brushes with long handles help you reach every part of the footwear. You can use these with two different polish colors and keep everything separate.
This kit also comes with two suede brushes. Having two of these is ideal if you have to clean colored suede frequently. Because dyed suede can bleed, you can keep a separate brush for each pair of shoes. The brass suede brush restores the texture of your shoes.
The handles of all of the brushes are made of solid wood. They give you a good grip that prevents fatigue and allows you to polish your shoes efficiently.
When you’re using leather cleaner for the first time, test it with these brushes on an inconspicuous part of your shoe. Sometimes, the cleaning solution or brush could make the leather discolor or fade.
- Excellent variety and quantity of brushes
- Long handles on dauber brushes help you reach tight spots
- You can use them to clean other leather surfaces
- Items are packed into a small box, which could deform the bristles
- Bristles may shed
Although you might think that shoe brushes are one-size-fits-all, they’re not. You need a variety of brushes to clean and shine various shoes. Some of the ones that we reviewed here can be used on every type of material. Others are specifically intended for use with leather or suede.
The best overall shoe brush is the Foloda 3-Pack Shoe Brush Kit. You can use it on both leather and suede. You’re not limited to using it on footwear, either. It’s great for cleaning other items, such as furniture and clothing.
The best premium shoe brush is the Rhino Bilt Boot Scraper. If you mount it near the door to your home, you can prevent mud, debris, sawdust, grass, and other particles from entering your home. It works well on wider feet, and you can use it on many types of shoes and boots. It’s not ideal for delicate leather, though.
If you’re looking for a budget option, you might want to choose the Alloda Shoe Cleaning Scrub Brush. This one is not designed to polish shoes. However, it cleans all materials, including sneakers, mesh, flyknit, canvas, leather, patent leather, and suede. You can even use it to scrub the midsoles and undersides of the shoes.
No matter which shoe brush you choose, you’ll be able to extend the life of your footwear and make it look nice. Shoe brushes help to get rid of the dirt that can make its way into the cracks in the leather and deteriorate your shoes. If you don’t have a few shoe brushes in your collection, perhaps it’s time to make a change.