Ideally, the diameter of the brush is at least equal to the diameter of the tube.
The wires of the brush will push up against the walls of the tube and remove any dirt or other buildup when they are twisted or pushed up and down. Sometimes cleaning with a tube brush is enough to remove the obstruction in a tube and restore an even flow for commercial or residential plumbing. This is usually the method that a plumber will try before moving to a more complicated solution.
Tube brushes are also used as part of an automated cleaning system in recycling plants to thoroughly clean bottles and other containers that will be reused in the future. Rather than having a handle on the end, these brushes are attached to a machine that rotates them at high speeds. There are several other types of tube brushes for specific applications.
A double stem tube brush can be made from a variety of wire or synthetic materials and is more durable than a single stem. A side action brush has a strong stainless steel stem and provides a high degree of stiffness. As the name suggests, micro tube brushes are very thin and are used for unique applications like cleaning the barrel of a firearm.
Most plumbers use tube brushes that have a certain degree of flexibility so that they can easily clean drain pipes and other pipes that have curves in them. A flexible brush is able to bend with the curves and conform to any shape. Spiral-patterned tube brushes are usually made with synthetic materials and they often have an attachment on the head so that they can be used with power drills.
The rapid rotation created by the drill instantly turns a tube brush into a very powerful cleaning tool. Tube brushes can be made with a variety of materials for light to heavy duty applications. For heavy duty dirt and contamination removal, wire brush bristles are best because they will scrape the walls of a tube and create enough friction to remove any obstructions.