Like any other product on your cleaning supplies list, you want a broom that does exactly what you need it to.
And there are different types of brooms that each do certain things better than others.
So picking the best broom starts with clarifying why you need it.
Think about what rooms or areas you’ll be using it, what surface you’ll use it on, and what you’ll be cleaning up.
Here are some examples:
- Will you use it inside or outside?
- Will you use it in large open areas or smaller confined spaces?
- Do you want to clean corners and navigate easily under objects?
- Are you cleaning fine dust or larger particles?
- What is the surface that you’ll be cleaning?
- Will sweeping be wet or dry?
- Are you cleaning up after pets?
- What size and weight of broom will you be able to easily handle?
There are three main styles of household broom, and each is designed to be used in a specific way:
- Upright Broom
- Push Broom
- Whisk Broom
An upright broom is the typical, everyday household broom with a long handle and a head of long bristles at the end.
It’s designed to be used mainly for indoor sweeping, and is most effective when used with short, sideways motions and in conjunction with a dustpan.
The bristles are cut either horizontally or on an angle.
A horizontal cut is great for sweeping open space.
If you’re going to be sweeping corners, crevices, small spaces or under objects, an angled broom will give you more control and precision.
A push broom is used for larger spaces and has a long handle with a wide head of bristles.
It’s designed to push the dirt and debris, and is a good choice for home areas like a garage, driveway, patio, or other outdoor areas.
Whisk Broom (‘hand broom’, ‘duster’)
A whisk broom is small with a short (or no) handle and used together with a dustpan.
It’s easier to control in a confined space or up close, and more convenient to grab than an upright for everyday messes as they happen.
And because of it’s size, you can keep one stored in a small space pretty easily.
The type of bristles a broom has is more than just a matter of appearance or cost, although it does affect both.
You want to know what a broom is made from because there are pros and cons to each type of material. Make sure you choose one that will give you the cleaning properties you need.
Bristle materials fall into two basic categories:
- Traditional Plant-Based
- Modern Synthetic
Traditional Plant-Based Broom Bristles
The best natural brooms still use the same materials after hundreds of years.
The modern broom-making boom began over 200 years ago with a farmer in Massachusetts by the name of Levi Dickinson.
Levi made his brooms from Broomcorn, which is still considered the best natural material for the purpose.
But there are other plant-based options that range from everyday-use to artisan-quality.
There are some great benefits to traditional plant-based brooms:
- Eco Friendly
- Can be beautiful to look at
- Perform certain jobs very well
- Often are combined to create complimentary benefits
Today, you can still readily find these materials in use for household brooms.
Broomcorn is the most traditional material. But don’t let the name confuse you. It’s actually a type of tall grass, not the plant we get corn from.
Because of it’s ability to trap and hold dirt and dust instead of simply moving them around, your sweeping results in a cleaner surface.
This is what Levi Dickinson used for his famous brooms in the 1800s and is still considered the premium natural material for broom making today.
More reasons many people prefer broomcorn brooms:
- Sturdy & long-lasting
- Wear well
- Environmentally friendly
- Safe for most floor surfaces
Corn straw is exactly what it sounds like, the fibrous parts of the plant we get corn from.
Corn brooms typically have stiffer bristles and are great for cleaning a kitchen floor or outside areas.
But remember they’re meant for dry sweeping.
More things to know about corn straw brooms:
- Easy to find
- Relatively inexpensive
- Can be trimmed when the edges get worn
- Useful on rough surfaces like concrete
Additional natural materials used to make household brooms include:
- Rattan (stiff, excellent for use in wet areas)
- Yucca (stiff and strong, good for rough surfaces like concrete)
- Horsehair (very fine, picks up tiny particles)
- Tampico (fine, soft to medium)
Natural fibers are often combined in a broom head to get the best qualities of each.
Modern Synthetic Broom Bristles
Modern materials have created even more broom options to choose from. The benefits of a synthetic broom may be exactly what you’re looking for.
Synthetic brooms in general are:
- Less expensive
- Resistant to chemicals, acids, and oils
- Water resistant
- For use on wet or dry surfaces
- Good for medium to heavy sweeping
- Quick to dry
You’ll find different types of synthetic brooms. Here are a few of the most common:
And there’s another type of synthetic broom that deserves special mention.
- Use on many types of surfaces: wood floors, carpet, upholstery, linoleum, tile, decking, and more
- Bristle movement creates a static charge that attracts and holds small particles
- Useful in indoors, outdoors, in the garage, and car
- Use wet or dry
- Great for removing pet hair
- Works on even or uneven surfaces
- Bristles form a squeegee effect that moves dirt along effectively
- Designed to be pulled toward you
- Easy to clean
Bristle Type & Texture
When it comes to bristles, you also want to keep in mind how they’re constructed and what the general texture is. These may seem like small details, but they do make a difference in how a broom performs.
Flagged & Unflagged
When synthetic bristles are flagged, the very end is split so that the tip is slightly frayed. This type of bristle picks up smaller particles well, but may stick together if grease or grime is encountered.
Unflagged bristles are not split and retain a firmer surface at the end point, so they are better for cleaning areas that require more pressure.
Whether you purchase a broom made from traditional materials or synthetic ones, there is a wide range of textures. From finer to thicker and softer to rigid.
- Finer, softer bristles tend to pick up smaller particles and dust that thicker bristles leave behind.
- Thicker, more rigid bristles are sturdier and better for removing stuck-on dirt and cleaning rough surfaces.
When choose a texture, you want bristles that are best for the type of dirt as well as the type of surface you’re cleaning.
There are some special features that you may want to consider before you settle on a broom.
These aren’t always available, but if one sounds like something you’d like, it’s worth looking into.
- Extendable Handle
- Included Dustpan (some attach to the broom for easy storage)
- Replaceable Head
Still have one or two questions as you’re thinking about brooms? Here are some answers that may help you make a decision.
How often should you replace your broom?
There’s no hard and fast rule because every situation will be different. But when your broom is becoming less effective due to wear, it’s time to trade it in for a new one that does the job well.
To help extend it’s useful life, clean a broom about every 3 months, or sooner if needed.
What kind of broom is best?
The best broom is the one that meets your needs and your goals. First decide what you need it for, then buy one that shines for that purpose.
- What rooms or areas will you be sweeping?
- What type dirt or debris will you be cleaning?
- What surface will you be sweeping?
Can brooms be recycled?
Want to get more use out of an old broom? Here are some options:
- For natural materials, a quick trim may bring a broom back to life.
- Donate worn brooms to animal shelters.
- Feeling DIY? Check out these ideas.
- For recycling regulations in your area, contact your local waste management authority.
A broom is a simple tool, but we are fortunate enough to have many options at our fingertips today.
I’m sure Levi Dickinson would be amazed at how his simple broom has both stayed the same with traditional methods, and evolved dramatically with modern materials and manufacturing.
Once you understand a little about brooms, the choice of which is best for you becomes easier because you know what to look for.