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How to Sanitize a Toothbrush: Step-by-Step Guide

Learn how to disinfect a toothbrush so you can kill the germs lurking on it.

Did you know about the toilet plume that sends fecal matter soaring into the air when the toilet is flushed? It’s vital that you clean, sanitize, and disinfect your toothbrush regularly. This way you’ll keep your toothbrush free from germs and residue lingering in the bristles.

We are here to help and show you how to clean your toothbrush so that you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your toothbrush is sanitary.

Key Takeaways

  • Clean your toothbrush daily with hot water before and after brushing your teeth.
  • Disinfect your toothbrush with methods like mouthwash, hydrogen peroxide, or UV sanitizers.
  • Store toothbrushes separately and away from the toilet to avoid cross-contamination and toilet plume exposure.
  • Replace toothbrushes when bristles are worn, bent, or after being sick.

How to Clean a Toothbrush Daily

It’s important to clean your toothbrush every day. When you brush your teeth, you scrub the plaque and bacteria out of your mouth and onto your toothbrush. Cleaning your bristles will prevent you from reintroducing these microorganisms to your mouth.

Clean your toothbrush before and after brushing your teeth.

  • Time: 2 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner

What You’ll Need

  • Hot water
  • Toothbrush


  1. Turn on the faucet: Make sure to use hot water.
  2. Rinse the toothbrush: Hold the bristles of your toothbrush under the running hot water for 15-20 seconds to remove all the grime.

How to Disinfect a Toothbrush

Disinfecting a toothbrush will kill most of the germs and bacteria on your toothbrush. This is necessary to clean a toothbrush that fell in the toilet or onto the floor. There are many different methods to disinfect a toothbrush, so choose the one that is most convenient for you.

With UV Sanitizer

You can purchase an ultraviolet light sanitizer such as this UV sanitizing toothbrush holder. This is an effective method but sometimes the equipment can be expensive. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific machine.

  1. Use the holder: Place your toothbrush or toothbrushes in the holder after use.
  2. Press the button: Now wait 5 minutes. The machine will use UV light to sanitize the brushes.

With Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean and disinfect your toothbrushes every day.

  1. Pour hydrogen peroxide into a small cup that you can keep in the bathroom.
  2. Insert toothbrushes: Store your toothbrush bristle down in the cup of hydrogen peroxide. You can leave them in the cup until the next time you brush your teeth. Rinse the toothbrushes before use.
  3. Change the hydrogen peroxide: Once a day you will need to pour out the hydrogen peroxide into the small cup and add fresh hydrogen peroxide to the cup.

With Mouthwash

Mouthwash is another excellent disinfectant to use to keep your toothbrushes clean and sanitary.

  1. Fill a small cup: Pour mouthwash into a small cup that you keep in the bathroom.
  2. Soak toothbrush: After you have brushed your teeth, place the toothbrush bristle down in the mouthwash. Leave it there for 2 minutes.
  3. Put away the Toothbrush.

With Denture Cleaner

Denture cleaner includes antimicrobial ingredients that target the bacteria and plaque that develops in mouths. You will need to make sure that you use a fresh denture cleaning solution for each use.

  1. Dissolve tablet: Dissolve ½ of a denture-cleaning tablet such as Retainer Cleaning 120 Denture Cleaning Tablets in a small cup of water.
  2. Soak your toothbrush in the solution for 90 seconds to kill any bacteria and plaque on it.

With Baking Soda and Vinegar

You can also clean it with vinegar or baking soda.

With Vinegar

Soak your toothbrush bristle down in a small cup of white vinegar for 15 minutes.

With Baking Soda

Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a small cup of water. Soak your toothbrush, bristle down, for 15 minutes in the mixture.

With Boiling Water

Boiling water can be used to clean your toothbrush, but you must be careful. The plastic handle of your brush may melt in the boiling water.

  1. Heat water in a tea kettle or a small pot on your stove.Once the water boils, turn off the heat.
  2. Soak toothbrush: If you used a small pot, simply hold the head of your toothbrush in the boiling water for 30 seconds or so. A tea kettle may require you to pour the boiling water into a mug so you can easily hold the head of your toothbrush in the boiling water for 30 seconds.

With Salt Water

Saltwater can also be used to clean a toothbrush.

  1. Make the salt water solution: Mix 2 teaspoons of salt in 1 cup of warm water.
  2. Soak the toothbrush: Soak the toothbrush in the salt water for 15-20 minutes.

How to Clean an Electric Toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes are handy tools to have in your bathroom to make sure that you clean your teeth effectively.

  • Time: 2 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner

What You’ll Need

  • Mouthwash
  • Small cup

1. Remove Head

Remove the head of your toothbrush from the electric base before soaking the toothbrush in a disinfecting solution.

2. Disinfect Head

Fill a small cup with mouthwash. Put the toothbrush head into the mouthwash. If you can’t detach the head, rinse the bristles of your toothbrush under running hot water or soak the bristles in the mouthwash for 2 minutes.

3. Store

Store your electric toothbrush in a clean and dry place.

How to Sanitize Toothbrush During COVID

If you discover that someone in your household has COVID and shares the bathroom with other members of your house, here are some tips to prevent the spread of COVID.

  • Store everyone’s toothbrushes in different areas so the toothbrushes don’t touch each other. You may need to purchase separate toothbrush holders.
  • Don’t share toothbrushes.
  • Wash your hands before and after brushing your teeth.
  • Disinfect the brush and handle after each using a diluted bleach solution of 1 part bleach and 4 parts water. Make sure to rinse the toothbrush after disinfecting it.
  • Don’t touch the bristles of the toothbrushes against the tip of the tube of toothpaste. Instead, put the toothpaste onto a cotton swab and use that to apply the toothpaste to the bristles.
  • Change everyone’s toothbrush once everyone is healthy again.

Tips For Keeping a Toothbrush Clean

It’s important to store your toothbrush correctly and keep it clean. This will prevent you from adding foreign bacteria and microorganisms to your mouth when brushing your teeth.

  • Store your toothbrush in a hydrogen peroxide solution.
  • Avoid storing toothbrushes side by side as this may cause bacteria cross-contamination and the introduction of foreign mouth flora to everyone’s mouth.
  • Keep the toothbrushes as far from the toilet as possible. Fecal matter rises into the air when the toilet is flushed. This is called the toilet plume and it can reach as high as 15 feet.
  • Clean toothbrush covers and holders regularly.
  • Wash your hands before and after you brush your teeth.
  • Rinse your toothbrush in hot water before and after each use.
  • Use a toothpaste dispenser or cotton swabs to apply toothpaste to individual toothbrushes. This will reduce the cross-contamination between toothbrushes.

When to Replace a Toothbrush

You’ll know it’s time to replace a toothbrush when the bristles have worn out or are bent over. Also, change toothbrushes after being sick or after someone else uses them. It’s impossible to thoroughly sanitize a toothbrush after it’s been shared.


How Do You Clean a Toothbrush If Someone Used It?

You should not clean a toothbrush after someone else uses it as it’s impossible to completely disinfect it. In addition, each person’s mouth flora or bacteria is unique. You don’t want to be scrubbing your mouth with someone else’s germs.

How Long Can Bacteria Live on Toothbrush?

Viruses and bacteria from an infected mouth can live on the surface of a toothbrush for weeks. They’ll continue to cause illness during this time.

What Happens If You Use the Same Toothbrush for Too Long?

Toothbrushes become less effective at removing plaque and bacteria from your teeth, tongue, and gums as the bristles become worn and bent out of shape.

Can You Use Bleach To Clean a Toothbrush?

Yes, you can use a diluted bleach solution to clean your toothbrush. Use 1 part bleach to 4 parts water in a small cup. Soak the head of your toothbrush in the bleach solution and let it soak overnight.

In the morning, rinse the toothbrush thoroughly and let it dry before using it. Pour the bleach solution down the sink after each use.

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About the Author

Sara Dennis

Sara Dennis is a coffee-loving freelance writer, homeschool blogger, and mom of six kids. In her free time, Sara loves reading books and researching more efficient and effective ways to keep a clean house, homeschool her children, and blog better while making a home for her large family.