Changing it every 6 months is not enough! The toothbrush needs periodic cleaning, and this is the step-by-step method

Like the vast majority of people, you probably use your toothbrush every day to clean plaque and bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth and tongue.

While you may be leaving your mouth cleaner after brushing, your toothbrush in turn is now carrying germs and accumulated food debris even if you can’t see them with your naked eye.

You probably also store your toothbrush in the bathroom, where bacteria can linger in the air and in the toothbrush cup for members of the household.

You can indeed take a powerful step forward by sterilizing your toothbrush with things like mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide. But most experts agree that you don’t need to sterilize your toothbrush regularly, just clean it well.

Here’s how to clean your toothbrush carefully, to protect yourself from the dangerous effects of germs accumulated between its bristles.

How to clean your toothbrush

Keeping your toothbrush clean is very simple. To clean your toothbrush, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends the following:

Rinse the toothbrush well with water after brushing your teeth. This will remove any toothpaste residue and noticeable food residue.

Store the brush upright in a well-ventilated place so it can air dry, away from other toothbrushes and without touching any surface.

According to a study published on the Hindawi Scientific Studies website, the growth of microbes in a toothbrush increases by 70% when it is stored in a closed container, compared to leaving it exposed to the open air until it dries. Learn how to properly store your toothbrush to maintain oral hygiene and prevent bacterial growth.

Storing all of your family’s toothbrushes in one cup is also a no-no. So always keep your toothbrush separate; To avoid the spread of germs.

Water temperature may also make a difference. For example, very hot water may soften the bristles and make it easier to loosen any material in the brush head, exposing it to further contamination upon use.

On the other hand, using warm water can clean surfaces and help kill bacteria as well.

Washing your toothbrush well, rinsing it carefully and shaking it to remove excess moisture will go a long way to preventing the growth of germs.

How to disinfect your toothbrush

According to health and medicine website WebMD, professionals generally agree that sterilizing your toothbrush is not necessary.

If you are feeling unwell or have concerns about potential infection from your toothbrush, it is recommended to replace it once you have recovered. While there is no guaranteed method of sterilization, taking this precautionary step can help maintain oral hygiene and prevent any potential risks.

So rinsing, air drying and replacing your toothbrush regularly should be enough to keep it clean. If you are still not convinced, here are some ways to sterilize your toothbrush for a deeper and more thorough cleaning.

Use of hydrogen peroxide

Soaking your toothbrush in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution is probably the most effective and affordable way to sterilize your toothbrush.

A 2022 study found that soaking used toothbrushes in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution reduced bacteria by 87%. 

In contrast, rinsing with tap water reduces about 18% of bacteria.

Rinse with antibacterial mouthwash

You can also soak the toothbrush bristles in mouthwash to kill bacteria. Simply swirl or soak your toothbrush in a small cup of mouthwash for about 30 seconds.

The aforementioned study found that Listerine mouthwash reduces the percentage of bacteria on the toothbrush by 31%, and antibacterial mouthwash containing chlorhexidine gluconate reduces bacteria by 58%.

Cleaning with baking soda

If you are looking for a more natural method, use baking soda. Simply mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water and soak your toothbrush in it for about 15 minutes, according to Healthline.

Just note that while older research shows that baking soda has antibacterial properties, it won’t sanitize your toothbrush as much as hydrogen peroxide and kills more germs.

White vinegar to disinfect germs

If you need another natural cleaning solution, you can soak your toothbrush in a little white vinegar for a few minutes.

Studies show that regular white vinegar can kill microorganisms on toothbrushes.

But like baking soda, white vinegar is not a scientifically approved disinfectant, so it won’t kill other powerful viruses.

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