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How to Sanitize and Disinfect a Toothbrush

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With a handful of curious kids, I needed to find ways to disinfect dirty toothbrushes. Here are some of the methods I use.

This article will provide a number of methods for disinfecting and sanitizing a dirty toothbrush.

This article will provide a number of methods for disinfecting and sanitizing a dirty toothbrush.

Should I Buy a New Toothbrush?

I have kids—more specifically one very curious toddler. He loves playing with toothbrushes and toothpaste, especially his older brother's toothbrush. I frequently find them in places I don't want to. Short of buying new toothbrushes every other day, I needed to figure out the best way to clean these toothbrushes and make them safe to use again.

His older brother gets extremely upset by this order of events. I have tried hiding them, placing them up high, and many other way to keep them out of reach, but the little one is also a very good climber and scaler, and child proof means nothing to this kid. I won't even tell you about all the chaos he causes on a daily basis.

With these methods, I can now keep toothbrushes clean and germ free, even after finding them on the floor of the bathtub or in other random places throughout the house. (Though I do draw the line at the toilet—anything found in there goes straight to the garbage.)

Cleaning a Toothbrush in the Dishwasher

This was always my fall back. Just throw it in with the utensils and let the machine do its magic. You can also put this in the top rack in a dishwasher-safe contraption. I have two mesh sleeves that hold things like straws and other small objects. Just run the toothbrushes through the dishwasher with your normal load to clean and disinfect them.

The dishwasher is an easy way to clean dirty toothbrushes.

The dishwasher is an easy way to clean dirty toothbrushes.

Clean a Toothbrush With Vinegar

I have to admit I use vinegar for everything. I really like vinegar for cleaning household items.

You can even soak your toothbrush with vinegar overnight and rinse it fully in the morning. This is a quick and easy solution to cleaning your toothbrush. You may have to rinse this out for a while to get the vinegar taste out. But the good news is that vinegar is not a chemical and will not be harmful to ingest.

Vinegar! My friend!

Vinegar! My friend!

Clean a Toothbrush With Hydrogen Peroxide

Some people store their toothbrushes in hydrogen peroxide. I personally think this is a better solution for a soak and rinse similar to the step with vinegar.

Plus, this is another non-toxic solution. I would not drink a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, but a small amount will not harm you.

Clean a Toothbrush With Mouthwash

Another quick and easy option is to soak the head of the toothbrush in mouthwash. This is a minty and easy way to clean your toothbrush and will taste nice and minty when done.

Where Should I Keep My Toothbrush?

Keeping your toothbrush covered or in a closed cabinet will actually create more bacteria on your toothbrush than leaving it in an open air container to air dry.

Do make sure to wipe the container and clean it regularly though. Also, your toothbrush bristles should not be touching another person's toothbrush.

If All Else Fails, Buy a New Toothbrush

I currently have a stockpile of toothbrushes saved up for my kids. Anything found in the toilet I deem un-savable, and I immediately replace it with a new one.

I also replace toothbrushes after any illness. This is a great rule of thumb and a way to keep the germs from going around and around.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


scott on September 17, 2017:

i have always been told to store your tooth brush in hydrogen peroxide to keep all the nasty,s at bay now yes i do brush my teeth but i have never considered it a have to case i brush and i use that dental cleansing chewing gum my tooth paste has baking soda in it and i use mouth wash and i still have a mouthful of cavities WTF is this how and why should i get this crap i dont eat that much for a man my size i no longer eat high acid foods i have cut way back on red meat i quit smoking 9 yrs ago i dont drink alcohol ever i have never used any type of street drug i am a very large man it takes a lot of soap to get this big guy clean but i am ok with that i have heard that if you put rubbing alcohol in you bottle of liquid soap that it will eliminate your funk i just wonder if thats true or not high order coming out of my body is something i have had to deal with since i was about 12 yrs old and now i am 50 so yeah its a big deal but now that i am divorced and i am looking for my new wife i really dont want to offend her in any way so i better get started real soon i really dont understand if you are told not to eat this or that and i dont eat foods with a high odor to the like raw fish that has just been caught its got soak in some salt water for a while or even better is water with baking soda in it that is how most odors are neutralized is with baking soda then you can ad your seasonings to it and cook it so i am now getting off my soap box and let someone else bark thanks for this web site things like this really do help

Noelle from Denver on March 06, 2013:

I actually never thought about getting a new toothbrush after being ill. Great information!

torrilynn on March 06, 2013:

Hi kthix10,

I think that it is very important to sanitize your toothbrush

in order ot avoid germs and getting an infection in your gums

thanks and Voted up

Teresa Sanderson from Rural Midwest on March 06, 2013:

Great hub with simple tips for keeping toothbrushes clean. Everyone should pitch them after illness. Thanks for sharing!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on March 05, 2013:

Wow...I love this hub so much. Very informative and your tips are useful for us. I can't wait to practice soon. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!