As Bob pointed out, wire brushing can be quite hazardous. Whether it be wire embedded in your hands or other parts of your body or your eyes, it can have lasting effects on you. And when you only have one eyeball left, you tend to minimize exposure from flying dust/dirt/pieces of wire. For me and this is only as it pertains to me and my own personal preferences, I like to take as few risks as possible especially now. Safety first.
Electrolysis is far safer than any other form for cleaning iron and steel that we come across in playing with old iron. Dust is harmful to the respiratory system - I know .. believe me I know. When doing this kind of work, eye protection and respirators are really kinda mandatory. One could say walking in the house with a snoot full of dust/dirt is macho, but really it is just dumb because it is COPD or worse waiting to happen. Use good safety practices. With electrolysis, the risks from dirt/dust/gunk or other particulates getting into your eyes or lungs are greatly reduced if proper safety precautions are taken. Plus it leaves the shop cleaner.
So, I am no chemist, barely understand simple chemical interactions, but what I don't know from books is made up for by experience. I happen to know that TSP works very well, 12 volts DC, 2.2 lbs of TSP in 45 US Gallons or so, a couple pieces of sacrificial rebar or rebar weded to an old mower blade connected to the positive side of the charger and the part connected to the negative side and presto poof a few hours later, clean parts. You can clean the residue off the parts while still in the tank or you can clean them out of the tank. Dip them back in the tank after cleaning, dunk a couple times and then let dry. Granted, some parts will require a bit more strenuous cleaning, but that is part of the learning curve I guess. Bob also makes some good points there.
I was not convinced that Washing Soda or TSP-Free would do the same job. When I went to Cecil's in 2006 we built a tank similar to mine and then we put a rim or a center in the tank. I was pleasantly surprised to find that TSP-Free accomplished almost the same as regular TSP and resulted in next to no flash rust. I think this thread shows some pics Re: Electrolysis Before and After?
I was pleased also to see the sheet of paint slip off as well...
Again, this is from my experience. Lord knows I am no expert on anything nor claim to be, I just like to play with stuff. And when I am playing I is learning and that is part of th enjoyment
Your experiences may vary