Toothbrushes needn’t be as disposable as they are in many households. In fact, when people learn how to clean their toothbrushes the correct way—and to store them properly, too—they won’t need to be thrown out until the bristles are worn.
Of course the most important thing when performing this chore is to use safe cleaners. You don’t want to put something in your mouth that has been cleaned with chemicals or harsh cleaners.
Tools Needed to Clean Toothbrushes
The following all qualify as safe cleaners for cleaning toothbrushes.
- Hydrogen peroxide
- White vinegar
Cleaning Toothbrushes—What Not to Do
Some people believe that the best way to clean your toothbrush is to boil it. After all, that kills the germs—right?
Yes, in most cases boiling will kill the germs that may have formed on your toothbrush, but it can damage the toothbrush as well. Since boiling can melt the heavy plastic most toothbrushes are made of, it can actually alter the way the toothbrush comes into contact with your teeth and gums. If you’ve already made this mistake and boiled your toothbrush, throw it away and buy a new one.
Something else not worth doing is spending money on a UV sanitizer for your toothbrush. They claim to get rid of all the germs that live there. That’s great, but something not everyone knows is that only a small percentage of the germs on our toothbrushes are pathogenic. This means they’re the kinds of germs that cause diseases. With a UV sanitizer you’re spending a lot of unnecessary money when something far less expensive will kill the same amount of germs.
The act of cleaning a toothbrush is incredibly simple. It amounts to nothing more than soaking it in a glass filled with safe cleaners. Use enough hydrogen peroxide, mouthwash (must contain alcohol), or white vinegar to submerge the bristles into the liquid. No need to include the handle.
Leave the toothbrush in your liquid of choice for about fifteen minutes, and then rinse with hot water. You’ll want to rinse a bit longer if you chose white vinegar as your antibacterial of choice. The taste of white vinegar requires a bit more rinsing. You definitely don’t want to reach for your toothbrush and find it tastes like white vinegar!
Types of Storage for Toothbrushes
An old tried-and-true method of toothbrush storage might not be the healthiest way of storing something that goes inside your mouth. You’ve no doubt seen the toothbrush holders that are ceramic, plastic, or metal, and have a plug in the bottom for releasing water—right? You may even have one holding the toothbrushes in your home.
Ponder this question for just a moment. How often have you actually removed the stopper to clean inside the toothbrush holder? If you said, “Never,” you’re not alone. Even though the bristles of the toothbrush don’t reach down into this holder, you can easily transfer germs from your hands to the bristles during the act of applying toothpaste and brushing your teeth. Opt for a toothbrush holder that doesn’t allow liquid to pool in the bottom. This is a breeding ground for germs including mold and mildew.
Toothbrush cases and covers work well to prevent some germs from growing on the bristles of your toothbrush, but make certain the cases and covers have proper ventilation, or you’ll have the same situation as the aforementioned toothbrush holder. It will become a place where germs grow quickly.
A stand-up toothbrush holder made of stainless steel is probably your safest bet for storing your family’s toothbrushes. There is nowhere for water to collect, and the stainless steel is easy to thoroughly clean.
Where Not to Store Them
Don’t ever store toothbrushes near the toilet. Do you remember the vintage ceramic toothbrush holders that were popular in homes built in the 1950s and 1960s? The toothbrush holders matched the tile and were almost always placed on the wall to the left or right of the toilet. How disgusting was that? It was a while until people realized all the germs from the toilet had perfect aim at something they put inside their mouths—and at least twice a day at that.
The Medicine Cabinet
If you have a medicine cabinet in your bathroom, place your toothbrush holder inside it and store all of your toothbrushes there. That’s the safest way to ensure no germs from your toilet make their way to your toothbrush.
How Often to Clean?
Is it necessary to clean toothbrushes often? No. If you rinse them in hot water after every use and store them properly—away from the toilet—then you can get by with cleaning them about once every month or so. The hot water from your bathroom faucet actually does a good job rinsing potential germs away.
Now that you know how to properly clean and store toothbrushes, you may find that members of your family endure fewer illnesses. Will this now become an important part of your housecleaning routine?