How to Clean, Disinfect and Sanitize Your Toothbrush

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You brush your teeth twice daily using the same toothbrush you’ve used for months, placing it back in its usual holder after you’re done brushing, and keeping your toothbrush exposed to the elements in your bathroom. 

Your toothbrush is harbouring a lot of bacteria and germs that could make you sick! Bathrooms are known for being humid, musty environments where bacteria can freely grow around surfaces - including on your toothbrushes. Since your toothbrush is kept constantly moist, germs latch on and feed on microorganisms and bacteria left on the bristles after brushing. 

Sanitizing your toothbrushes is a good way to keep the bacteria and germs at bay, especially when you have sick family members around your household. In this guide, we’ll present you the different ways you can disinfect your toothbrush, and store your toothbrush cleanly. 

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How to Clean Toothbrush

Besides keeping you from getting sick, you need to disinfect your toothbrush to remove any accumulated grime off the bristles. Toothbrushes go in our mouths, so sanitizing your toothbrush is an essential part of dental hygiene. If your toothbrush isn’t clean, how can it clean your teeth? 

Cleaning your toothbrushes is a simple task, and you can incorporate it into your everyday routine. There are plenty of ways to clean toothbrushes, many of which involve cleaning solutions that you already have at home, like mouthwash and boiling water. 

Soak in Antibacterial Mouthwash

Antibacterial mouthwash, as its name suggests, kills off bacteria on contact. Most mouthwashes have disinfecting ingredients like alcohol, eucalyptol, and antiseptic agents. These ingredients are tough on germs, but safe to use orally, as long as they are not ingested. Soaking your toothbrushes in an antibacterial or antiseptic mouthwash solution will kill off any germs on it.

Before and after you brush your teeth, soak your toothbrush in antibacterial mouthwash for at least 30 seconds to a minute to kill off any lingering germs and bacteria. Mouthwash is a safe alternative to stronger, chemical disinfectants like rubbing alcohol and bleach, and the solution won’t harm the bristles.

Use Vodka or Drinking Alcohol

You may have seen TV dramas using vodka or drinking alcohol to sanitize tools in a pinch, and there may be some truth to that theory. Drinking alcohols like vodka typically contain 40% alcohol, and while we don’t recommend it in a surgical setting, the alcohol content is powerful enough to kill off most germs on your toothbrush when used as a soak.

Take a small cup of vodka or drinking alcohol, and dip the head of your toothbrush in it. Let your toothbrush soak in between brushing sessions, and rinse well before using. Change the drinking alcohol frequently to keep its efficiency. Alternatively, you may dip your toothbrush in the cup of drinking alcohol before brushing to remove germs in a jiffy.

Dip in Boiled Water

Hot water is the safest way to disinfect most items, but your plastic toothbrush would melt in boiling water. The key to sanitizing your toothbrush with freshly boiled water is to dip your toothbrush in intervals - enough to kill off germs, but not to warp your toothbrush. 

Take a cup of water fresh from the boil, and dip the head of your toothbrush in 30-second intervals, allowing your toothbrush to cool between dips. After 3-5 dips, your toothbrush should be sanitized well enough to have killed off most germs and bacteria. The best time to do this would be before and after brushing your teeth. 

For bamboo toothbrushes with non-nylon bristles, you may leave it in the hot water until the water cools, as the toothbrush material does not get affected by heat. However, make sure to completely dry the toothbrush afterwards.

Use Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an underrated disinfectant that is readily available in most drugstores and safe to use around the house. Mostly used to sanitize wounds and detect bodily fluids, hydrogen peroxide is commonly associated with healthcare and home cleaning. Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a mouthwash, which makes the solution perfect for disinfecting toothbrushes!

A small cup of hydrogen peroxide can be used to soak your toothbrush between uses, killing off germs in the process. You will need to rinse out your toothbrush before use, and avoid ingesting hydrogen peroxide as this may cause vomiting. Ensure that the hydrogen peroxide is away from reach of children and pets to avoid accidental ingestion.

Soak in Denture Cleanser

Denture cleansers were made to combat plaque buildup and bacteria found in mouths, making them the ultimate toothbrush cleaner! Denture cleansers clean more than just dentures; they can clean a variety of dental hygiene products. Your toothbrush, rinse cup, and tongue scraper can all be cleaned using denture cleansers.

Simply dissolve your denture cleanser as you normally would according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and soak your toothbrush for at least 90 seconds before using. The disinfecting properties of denture cleansers will clear most gunk off your toothbrush, even between the bristles. For a thorough cleaning, use a toothpick to scrape off gunk buildup between the bristles after soaking the toothbrush in the denture cleanser. Replace solution after every soak.

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How to Keep a Toothbrush Clean

Sanitizing your toothbrush before and after brushing your teeth is only one way to keep your toothbrush clean. Clean your toothbrush with constant care, as the bristles may warp or melt under intense conditions. Whether you have an electric toothbrush or a standard one, you can make use of the methods below to clean your toothbrush:

Invest in a UV Toothbrush Sanitizer

Disinfect your toothbrush with a UV toothbrush sanitizer that uses lightwaves to kill off germs and bacteria. There are plenty of options on the market for UV-light toothbrush holders, with most wall-installed versions holding enough toothbrushes for a family of five or six, and coming in different options to store your toothpaste, cups, and other dental hygiene products. 

Keep in mind that not all UV sanitizers are effective, as UV light requires a certain amount of lightwaves emitted to effectively kill off microbes. Invest in a UV sanitizer from a reputable and certified source for the best benefits.

Keep in Antibacterial Mouthwash

Much like keeping your toothbrush in a cup of hydrogen peroxide, a small cup of antibacterial mouthwash can serve as a toothbrush holder that sanitizes and refreshes your toothbrush. Simply store your toothbrush in a small cup of antibacterial mouthwash after brushing your teeth, and replace the liquid each day. 

Ensure that your toothbrush is clean before soaking it into the cup of mouthwash. While the antibacterial mouthwash can kill off germs and bacteria, it does nothing to physically clean the remaining plaque, dirt, and micro food particles from the bristles of your toothbrush.

Use an Antimicrobial Toothbrush Cover

If you’re not into expensive UV sanitizers, and you don’t like the idea of keeping your toothbrush in a mouthwash soak all day, then you may benefit from an antimicrobial individual toothbrush cover. These toothbrush covers are usually used for travel purposes, and reportedly keep germs and bacteria off your toothbrush for up to three months.

Antimicrobial toothbrush covers are great for on-the-go, especially if you’re the type of person who travels a lot. However, you will need to dispose of the toothbrush cover after three months, which coincides with the three-month recommended time for you to replace a toothbrush.

Keep your Dental Hygiene Items Clean

Other than your toothbrush, keep your other dental hygiene items clean as well to avoid the spread of germs and bacteria from one surface to another. You most likely store your toothbrushes along with your toothpaste, rinsing cup, tongue scraper, dental floss, and other dental supplies. 

Keeping your dental items clean is a great way to combat dental diseases like gingivitis, as well as infectious diseases among family members, like coronavirus and colds. Separate dental hygiene items per family member, and avoid sharing dental items to keep your home healthy.

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When to Replace Your Toothbrush

The American Dental Association recommends changing your toothbrush every three months, or when you notice the bristles are warped and dirty. Of course, use your own judgement when deciding to replace your toothbrush. If your toothbrush is starting to look grimey, or has grown mold even before the three-month period, you may want to replace it as soon as possible.

Both standard and electric toothbrushes will need to be replaced every so often to keep its cleanliness in check, as well as ensuring that the bristles are in good enough condition to brush plaque away from your teeth. Be mindful that some of the cleaning techniques we discussed in this article can shorten the lifespan of your toothbrushes, but are necessary to kill off germs.

When replacing your toothbrush, you may want to sanitize your new one before using, as the toothbrush had probably been sitting in its packaging for months before you used it. Also invest in toothbrushes that have better protection against warping and bacterial growth, as these will likely last longer than cheap toothbrushes. 

For more tips on cleaning your bathroom and bathroom supplies, check out our blog today!

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