As a dental hygiene expert, I’m often asked where the best place is to store a toothbrush. There are many factors to consider when determining the ideal toothbrush storage location. Proper toothbrush storage can help extend the life of your brush and prevent cross-contamination between brushes. In this comprehensive guide, I will discuss the pros and cons of various toothbrush storage options to help you make an informed decision.
One of the most common places people store their toothbrush is on the bathroom counter. This allows for easy access when brushing your teeth. However, the bathroom counter is a high traffic area and can expose your toothbrush to bacteria and germs.
When a toilet is flushed, it releases an aerosol spray that can travel up to 6 feet. This toilet spray contains bacteria and viruses. Leaving your toothbrush exposed on the counter puts it directly in the path of these contaminants.
In addition, bathroom counters harbor lots of bacteria. Studies have found toothbrushes stored directly on a bathroom counter grow bacteria at a much faster rate compared to toothbrushes stored in a closed container or medicine cabinet.
- Convenient access when brushing
- Exposure to toilet spray bacteria
- More bacteria growth
Storing your toothbrush in the medicine cabinet can be a good way to protect it from contaminants. Medicine cabinets are outside the splash zone of most toilets. Closing the cabinet door also prevents bacterial spread from the air.
However, medicine cabinets still have some risk of cross-contamination. Leaking pipes or condensation can promote mold growth. Improperly sealed cabinets may not fully protect from aerosolized bacteria. And if cabinets are crowded, brushes could touch each other. Proper disinfection is still required.
- Protection from direct toilet spray
- Less airborne bacteria exposure
- Risk of mold and moisture
- Crowding may cause cross-contamination
Open Cup Holder
Some people use open cup holders or wall-mounted toothbrush stands to store brushes. While convenient, these provide little protection against bacteria.
Toothbrushes in open holders are exposed to bacteria-filled spray from the toilet, sink and ambient air. Studies show brushes in open holders grow significantly more bacteria than those in closed containers.
In addition, if multiple brushes are stored in one holder, bacterial transfer between brushes is likely. For optimal hygiene, each brush should have its own holder.
- Convenient access
- High bacterial exposure
- Cross-contamination risk
Storing your toothbrush in a closed container offers the best protection. Sealing the brush away from contaminants limits bacterial growth.
Plastic toothbrush covers are a good option. Make sure to choose one with ventilation holes to allow the brush to dry. Covers that snap onto wall mounts allow easy access. Travel tubes or folding cases provide protection on the go.
You can also store brushes upright in a cup with a vented lid. Use one cup per person to prevent touching. Glass or plastic cups with lids work well.
- Limits airborne bacterial exposure
- Allows brushes to dry while covered
- Prevents cross-contamination
- Plastic waste from disposable covers
- Need storage space for containers
Distance from Toilet
Regardless of storage method, it’s ideal to keep toothbrushes at least 6 feet away from a toilet. As mentioned earlier, flushing sprays water droplets containing bacteria and viruses up to 6 feet in the air.
Store toothbrushes in a separate area of the bathroom, such as a medicine cabinet or vanity drawer. If your bathroom is small, consider keeping brushes in an adjacent hallway or bedroom.
If there’s no way to store brushes 6+ feet from a toilet, be diligent about disinfecting holders and changing covers frequently.
- Avoids bacterial toilet spray
- May be inconvenient if bathroom is small
Proper Toothbrush Hygiene
In addition to smart storage methods, proper toothbrush hygiene is critical. Here are some tips:
- Rinse toothbrush thoroughly after each use and allow to air dry before covering.
- Store toothbrush upright if possible to allow water drainage.
- Don’t cover toothbrush while still wet; this promotes bacterial growth.
- Don’t share toothbrushes or store them touching each other.
- Clean toothbrush holders frequently with soap and hot water or disinfecting wipes.
- Replace toothbrush or brush head every 3-4 months.
- Disinfect toothbrushes by soaking in antibacterial mouthwash or diluted hydrogen peroxide.
- If you get sick, immediately replace your toothbrush to avoid reinfection.
Toothbrush Storage for Families
Proper toothbrush storage gets more complicated for families with multiple brushes. Here are some tips to keep everyone’s brush hygienic:
- Give each person their own labeled toothbrush holder.
- Use color-coding by assigning each family member a color.
- Store brushes spaced apart, not touching.
- Keep brushes for younger kids separated from adult brushes.
- Store brushes in a closet or bedroom if bathroom space is limited.
- Disinfect all holders weekly in boiling water or with diluted bleach.
Travel Toothbrush Storage
When traveling, pay extra attention to how you store toothbrushes. Follow these tips:
- Pack individually wrapped disposable toothbrush covers.
- Bring a small plastic container or tube for each brush.
- Store in a resealable plastic bag to contain dripping.
- Keep brushes separate from dirty clothes and shoes.
- Use disposable brushes in high-risk places like campsites or hostels.
- Replace brush if it falls on the floor or contacts contamination.
Electric Toothbrush Storage
Electric toothbrushes have extra hygiene considerations:
- Store brush head detached from electric base when not in use.
- Disinfect the brush head and base separately.
- Cover or store brush head upright to avoid contact between bristles.
- Air dry brush head before attaching to electric base.
- Clean the toothbrush base regularly with disinfecting wipes.
DIY Toothbrush Holders
You can make your own custom toothbrush holder with a few easy DIY projects:
Spice Rack Holder
- Use a wall-mounted spice rack with space between prongs.
- Slide brushes between prongs so they’re upright and not touching.
Shower Caddy Toothbrush Holder
- Attach a metal or plastic shower caddy to the wall.
- Place brushes in shower caddy compartments upright.
- Glue cup hooks to wall in a line spaced a few inches apart.
- Hang cups from hooks open side down to store brushes.
Magnetic Strip Holder
- Affix magnetic strip to wall horizontally.
- Place small magnetic covers or dishes along strip to hold brushes.
To summarize my toothbrush storage recommendations:
- Store toothbrushes 6+ feet from toilet in enclosed container.
- Allow brushes to air dry before covering.
- Disinfect holders frequently.
- Replace brush every 3-4 months.
- Use individually labeled holders for families.
- Take extra precaution with storage when traveling.
Proper toothbrush storage is essential for dental hygiene. Keep your brushes protected from contaminants and separated from each other. Store them upright in ventilated containers 6 feet from toilet spray. Follow these tips to keep your toothbrush maximally clean!