how to sanitize a toothbrush

Tooth-brushing is the foundation of maintaining healthy oral hygiene. The prime role of a toothbrush is used to remove germs, food particles off your teeth and scrub the white film off your tongue.

But afterward, you don’t take care to remove bacteria off your toothbrush. Instead, you rinse it under the tap and give it a mechanical shake to clean it. Most of us are unaware that the toothbrush also needs cleaning.

As a result, the toothbrush becomes contaminated with more bacteria, blood, saliva, and even old toothpaste overtime. Then there comes the requirement to sanitize your toothbrush.

Sanitizing is “the method of reducing the amount of microorganism on the surface to a safe level.”It’s your toothbrush, and it’s disinfecting that will keep you healthier during this winter’s cold and flu.

Best ways to sanitize a toothbrush is by soaking it in antibacterial mouthwash and hydrogen peroxide, cleaning it under running water thoroughly, store it in a way to air dry naturally, etc.

Let’s move ahead in this article and learn ways to sanitize and store your toothbrush in detail.

Why is a clean toothbrush must?

Toothbrushes can become a fertile breeding ground for many microorganisms including the ones that cause the common cold and influenza.

Which is one reason why it’s necessary to change your toothbrush every three months and rinse it thoroughly at least once every week? (1) Here are a few ways to sanitize your toothbrush –

Ways to sterilize your toothbrush

Clean your toothbrush after brushing

After brushing, rinse your toothbrush under running water thoroughly. Ensure to clean away all toothpaste and other food debris so that they do not reside there giving a foul smell.

Soak toothbrush in antibacterial mouthwash

Soak your toothbrush head in antibacterial mouthwash to help reduce bacteria on bristles.  Rinse thoroughly before using again.

Specifically, according to the American Dental Association, immersion of toothbrush head for about 15 minutes has a positive effect and does not damage the bristles.

Any longer might harm the bristles. Reusing and sharing of that mouthwash nullify the purpose.

Store your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide

For everyday cleaning, you can store your every toothbrush in a separate small cup of 3.0 % hydrogen peroxide. Replace the hydrogen peroxide, when you brush your teeth.

The antiseptic and antifungal property of hydrogen peroxide works so well for cleaning personal care product. Also, it proved to be the most economical and removes odor-causing bacteria. (2)

How to sanitize a toothbrush infographic

Soak toothbrush in 50% white vinegar

As per recent research studies, 50% concentration of white vinegar is a most effective method for disinfecting toothbrush. (3)

So, submersion your toothbrush in 50% white vinegar for 10 minutes is the method against all bacteria.

Spray your toothbrush with chlorhexidine spray.

The alternative method that can be applied instead of mouthwash is 0.12% of chlorhexidine spray on the toothbrush after three daily brushing as a sterile technique for toothbrushes. (4)

Store your toothbrush in a way to air dry naturally

Store your toothbrush in a place where it can dry completely between uses. Wet brushes kept in closed containers, stay damp, which is a known breeding ground for bacteria. 

So, the simplest remedy to stop microorganism growth is to air dry your toothbrush in a holder that permits it to face up while not touching the bristles of alternative toothbrushes.

It even applies to clean your toothbrush holder as putting a clean brush in a dirty holder won’t be appreciated. So, use hand wash to clean the holder or throw the holder in the dishwasher periodically to maintain its sanitary.

Use of antimicrobial natural agents

With the increase in bacterial resistance to antibiotics, natural antimicrobial agents, such as 3% garlic extract, tea tree oil, etc., are effective in reducing S.mutans counts in toothbrushes. (5)

Other not so recommended ways

Toothbrush in boiling water

Boiling your toothbrush for a few minutes results in killing germs although boiling water might be quite harsh on toothbrush bristles.

Toothbrush in dishwasher

Also, you may place your toothbrush into the tableware compartment of the dishwasher to get it sanitized. After that, you can run your toothbrush through the hot cycle mode without soap in your dishwasher.

One drawback is that toothbrush would be cleaned once a day and not between each usage. (6)

Toothbrush in microwave

The use of microwave is faster than using the dishwasher. But if the toothbrush is left for more than 5 minutes, then the bristles might become extremely brittle, rendering the toothbrushes unusable. (7)

UV toothbrush sanitizer

If you are prepared to invest money, then you can even purchase an ultraviolet (UV) toothbrush sanitizer that is suggested by the Food and Drug Administration. (8)

This useful gadget works on the principle of combining dry heat with steam to disinfect your toothbrush. However, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, studies show that using disposal toothbrushes and using of antibacterial mouthwash to rinse and soak offer several benefits.

Over to you

Sanitizing of your toothbrush is essential and a healthy habit to prevent any illness. It would be best if you rinse your toothbrush each week and store them in an upright position after use and let them to air dry to prevent microbial growth.

Electric toothbrush users are advised to replace the head of the toothbrush and clean and disinfect in the similar method as a conventional toothbrush.