What is a Horse Hair Shoe Shine Brush?

 Horse hair brushes are used for cleaning dirt, dust and polishing of leather shoes.  Horse hair brushes are truly just that – brushes made from the tail hair, or mane hair of a horse.  Horse hair is sturdy enough, but gentile enough not to scratch or damage the leather.  The horse hair as it passes over the shoe will generate heat, this process will distribute polishes, and raise leather fibers of the calfskin leather to prepare the surface for shining.

 What are the Differences Between Horse Hair Brushes?

Horse hair brushes will come in various sizes of handles, bristle color, bristle length, and it truly is a matter of personal preference.  Most importantly a variety of qualities

            Handle Sizes

While there are slight variations, the two main handle sizes you will come across are 6” and 8”.  The 8” handle on quality brushes will have a convex shape that assists in the brush stroke, able to develop an arched brushing motion.  The 8” brush is my personal favorite.  (Although I do use a 6” handle brush as my “dirty brush”)

            Bristle Color

Bristles will typically come in light bristles, or dark bristles.  The common usage would be to use a dark bristle on your black and dark brown shoes.  The lighter bristle will be for your medium to light brown shoes.  It you have any burgundy, red, green, blue shoes you would want to go with the lighter bristles so you can easily see the color transfer so you don’t mix up your brushes.

            Bristle Length

The most common bristle length will be either 1” or 1 ½ “.  The 1 ½” bristle in our opinion is softer, and distributes the polishes more evenly.  We use the 1” bristle length brush to knock off dirt and dust, and gets into the shoes welt much easier.  Again, this is a personal preference, but the 6” brush feels like a toy compared to the 8” brush.

 The Quality of a Horse Hair Brush         

Top quality horse hair brushes are made from high quality 100% horse hair bristles.  Quality brushes with have a higher density of hair in the tuffs (the holes where the hair is pinned).  A true premium quality brush should last for years and years to come.  You will probably pass these brushes down to your children.  They may even argue over them if you don’t put them in your will – I’m just saying.

How to Use a Horsehair Brush

If your shoes are severely dirty/dusty we recommend a 1” bristle horse hair brush to first remove the visible surface dirt.  If the shoes do not have excessive dirt/dust skip this step.  Next, you will use the brush and brush in a light to medium pressure across the shoe covering all areas of the shoe.

How Many Horse Hair Brushes do I Need?

At the minimum we recommend 3 brushes.  Remember brush handle size, and bristle length is a personal preference, so decide what feels comfortable for you.  This recommendation is for

  • A 6” handle brush, with 1” bristles. This is our dirty brush that will only be used when our shoes had a rough day and are excessively dirty.  Will be used on any color shoe, it never removes applied polish so the wax build ups are minuscule.
  • A 8” handle brush, with 1 ½ “ light colored bristles – this brush will be used on your Medium Brown and Light Brown Shoes.
  • A 8” handle brush, with 1 ½” dark colored bristles – this brush will be used on your Black, and Dark Brown Shoes

How do I Clean my Horse Hair Brush?

 While you may see posts and videos showing you how to clean a horse hair brush, it is our opinion that if the brush is used for its proper application physical cleaning with water, soap, and or chemicals is not necessary.

To clean you horse hair brush, after using the brush and prior to storing it away.  Give several brush strokes forward and backward, just as if you are brushing your shoes.  But, do this motion over a clean area of your cotton chamois.  This process will remove any heavy residual polish from the hairs of the brush and is sufficient in the use and longevity of the brush.

horse hair brush

Keep reading the Ultimate Guide to Horse Hair Shoe Brushes.  If you have seen enough and you want to check pricing, and see our top recommendations, click the button below.  Keep it Shiny!

In the sections below we will show snippets of Recent Amazon Reviews,  Pros & Cons of Using Horse Hair Shoes Brushes, a video tutorial on how to use the Horse Hair Shoe Brush, and a brief tutorial on the benefits.  To the right of the video there will be a link to purchase, or research if you need more information.  Keep it Shiny.

Recent Amazon Reviews

amazon review brush 2


  • Package Dimensions: 10.9 x 6.9 x 3.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Item model number: 104-001-22
  • Length 8” – Width 2.75”
  • Made in Germany
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars    65 customer reviews
horse hair shoe brush

Pros & Cons of a Quality Horse Hair Shoe Brush

  • Quality Material will not scratch shoes
  • Will Last for Years to Come
  • Will Evenly Distribute Polish & Waxes
  • High Density of Horse Hair
horse hair shoe brush
  • Some Hair Loss is Normal when new
  • The Kids will fight over who it gets passed down to
  • You will lose track of time - mesmerized while brushing

Tutorial & Where to Buy

Here is a tutorial on the use of the Horse Hair Shoe Brush.  We have also listed our top recommendation if you want to purchase.  

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