Bundles of sticks formed the earliest and most primitive types of brooms. Tree brush and branches were used in the United States for sweeping the ashes around cooking fires until Massachusetts farmer Levi Dickinson created the first corn broom in 1797. Dickinson's brooms were manufactured in 1810 using a foot-treadle broom making machine. Later, the whisk and the push broom became other popular types, and all three are still used regularly, both commercially and residentially, today.
Corn brooms are triangular in shape, with rows of stitching to hold the corn fiber strands in place. The handle is traditionally made of wood, but some may have plastic handles and even plastic bristles. Corn brooms with natural fiber strands are thought to be able to hold even the smallest particles of dirt, while most plastic varieties have been treated with chemicals that help them pick up debris. Industrial corn brooms are made to be used on rough commercial floors and often have denser strands and a heavier-duty design than standard household ones.
Whisk brooms are hand-held tools made for quick touch-ups in small areas such as tents, picnic tables, or to use in tight spaces such as behind appliances like washing machines. Some look like miniature corn brooms without the long handle and are made from natural corn fiber with rows of stitching. Others may be made with synthetic fibers and have a plastic handle that gives them an appearance that is more like a brush than a broom.
Push brooms are rectangular in shape and the bristles are attached to a wooden block that is attached to a wooden, or sometimes metal, handle. They are available in many different widths and can cover large areas in a short amount of time. The sweeper holds the handle of the broom out in front while walking, and the broom head sweeps the surface.
This type of broom often used for sweeping driveways, and it usually has synthetic bristles that can be easily washed. Industrial push brooms have long-lasting and durable synthetic bristles, and many are designed to resist solvents, greases and oils.