While most of us rinse our toothbrushes in water after we use them, according to WebMD, they are still contaminated by the microbial organisms in our mouths. Even worse, if you have a virus or bacterial infection, these organisms can continue to cause illness since they can live on our toothbrushes for weeks.
Basic Toothbrush Maintenance
- Wash your toothbrush thoroughly under running water after every use
- Avoid storing it in areas where it cannot air dry (e.g., a medicine cabinet, drawer, cup)
- Replace it every 3-4 months when bristles look frayed because they will not clean your gums or teeth effectively (this includes electric toothbrush heads as well!)
NOTE: Because best practices require us to regularly replace our brushes, I encourage you to choose an eco-friendly / sustainable option! These bamboo brushes can be composted (just make sure to tweeze off the bristles first).
While these steps are simple, they are important not only in preventing illness, but also in avoiding tooth decay and gum disease. However, if you want a deep clean for your toothbrush, there are easy steps you can take using everyday household supplies vs. buying an expensive UV lamp.
Effective Ways to Sanitize Your Toothbrush Naturally
If reading about micro-organisms living in the bristles of your toothbrush makes you cringe, you’re not alone! Fortunately, there are more effective ways to clean your toothbrush than simply running it under water. I’ve compiled a list of sustainable methods to ensure good oral care and to prevent colds and flues.
- Boiling – According to Dynamic Dental, boiling your toothbrush for about 3 minutes will kill most of the germs. The one downside is that this technique tends to lower the lifespan of your toothbrush
- Hydrogen peroxide – Another option is to soak it in a cup of hydrogen peroxide after each use. Make sure to replace the hydrogen peroxide on a daily basis!
- Vinegar and baking soda – The Natural Singer recommends a mixture of white vinegar, water, and baking soda and soaking your toothbrush in the solution for 30 minutes. (NOTE: As evidenced in my list of DIY cleaning recipes, vinegar can be used as a substitute for many harsh commercial cleaners).
- Dishwasher – You can put your toothbrush in the silverware section of your dishwasher and run it through the hot cycle without detergent.
- Isopropyl alcohol – Platinum Dental Care says that rinsing with rubbing alcohol will also do the trick, just make sure to rinse again with water or let it air dry before brushing your teeth.
In most cases, rinsing your toothbrush after every use in hot water is sufficient. In addition to the best practices mentioned, according to the Cleveland Clinic, look for any discoloration or build up in between the bristles. Also, do not share your toothbrush with anyone because we all have our own unique bacteria. You should especially avoid sharing with your young children as their bacteria are still developing.
Hopefully these toothbrush cleaning and sanitizing methods will not only keep your mouth clean, but also help to prevent unwanted colds and the flu during the upcoming season – happy brushing!