How Clean is Your Toothbrush?

Your toothbrush is an important tool you use every day to promote good oral hygiene and remove plaque effectively. You trust your toothbrush to get rid of food particles and plaque, but you may not realize that your toothbrush could be a prime breeding ground for bacteria and various other microorganisms. Studies show that the average toothbrush may have millions of bacteria, so important to understand how to best keep your toothbrush clean so you get the best results when you brush.

Bacteria from Your Mouth

Your mouth is home to many different species of bacteria, particularly in an unbrushed mouth. Every time you brush your teeth, some of the bacteria in your mouth can be left behind on your toothbrush. Since your toothbrush is often damp, it often attracts bacteria and offers a nice place for bacteria to keep growing. Keep your toothbrush on the sink and it can get contaminated when you wash your hands from water splashing onto the toothbrush.

Your Toothbrush and the Toilet

If you keep your toothbrush in the bathroom and it’s out in the open, think about what occurs when you flush the toilet. When you flush the toilet while the lid is open, bacteria and viruses from the toilet can become airborne and settle on surfaces in your bathroom. Even worse, if you happen to drop your toothbrush on the bathroom floor, it comes into contact with toilet spray that has settled on the floor, as well as bacteria that has been tracked into the bathroom on people’s feet.

Avoid Plastic Containers

Although you might think that the answer to a cleaner toothbrush is to keep it stored in an airtight, plastic container, this isn’t the right answer. This keeps the toothbrush from drying out between uses, which can cause mold to begin growing. Storing multiple toothbrushes together can allow bacteria to spread from one brush to another as well, which is especially problematic if one person in the house is sick.

Tips for Keeping Your Toothbrush Clean

Now that you’re aware of how bacteria laden your toothbrush can be, what can you do to keep your toothbrush clean and as free from bacteria as possible? Here are a few tips that can help.


  • Tip #1 – Replace Your Brush Regularly – Make sure you’re replacing your toothbrush at least every three or four months. Replace the brush sooner if you notice the bristles are frayed or splayed. You should also replace your toothbrush if you’ve been sick.


  • Tip #2 – Choose the Right Toothpaste – Although most toothpastes include ingredients to kill germs, toothpastes that contain copolymer/triclosan do a better job at killing the bacteria in your mouth.


  • Tip #3 – Clean the Brush – You can kill off some of the bacteria on your toothbrush by soaking it from time to time in an antibacterial mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide. If you accidentally drop your brush on the floor, definitely clean it this way right away. It’s also important to rinse the brush with tap water well after brushing. You can also use some antibacterial soap to clean it or pop it in the dishwasher for a good cleaning.


  • Tip #4 – Avoid Sharing Brushes – It’s impossible to remove all the bacteria from the brush, no matter how well you clean it, so it’s important to avoid sharing brushes. If you share toothpaste with other people, try to make sure the toothpaste opening doesn’t touch the brush to avoid spreading bacteria that way.


  • Tip #5 – Always Close the Toilet Lid – Since toilet water contains a lot of bacteria, always close the toilet lid when you flush. This way water doesn’t end up being sprayed throughout your bathroom, contaminating your brush or other surfaces.


  • Tip #6 – Keep the Brush Exposed to Air – Never keep the toothbrush in an airtight container. It’s a great idea to keep it in a medicine cabinet, but ensure it’s drying out between brushes.


  • Tip #7 – Rinse with Mouthwash First – A good antibacterial mouthwash will kill some of the bacteria in your mouth, so consider rinsing with some mouthwash before you brush to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. This means your brush won’t be exposed to as many bacteria, keeping it cleaner for longer.