For many people, their toothbrush belongs in the bathroom – it’s where they brush their teeth so it helps to have it to hand.
But according to dentist Dr Payal Bhalla, keeping your toothbrush in the bathroom could expose it to “poo particles”.
The Principal Dentist and Clinical Director of Quest Dental said: “It is possible for faecal particles (sometimes referred to colloquially as ‘poo particles’) to be present in a bathroom environment, including on surfaces such as your toothbrush. This can occur when toilets are flushed without the lid closed, as flushing can release small water droplets into the air that may contain faecal bacteria and other microorganisms.
“To minimise the risk of faecal particles coming into contact with your toothbrush, you can follow the hygiene tips mentioned in the previous response, such as rinsing your toothbrush before use, storing it upright, using a toothbrush cover, and closing the toilet lid when flushing.”
Dr Bhalla listed some other reasons why storing your toothbrush in the bathroom may be considered unhygienic.
When you flush the toilet, especially with the lid open, tiny water droplets containing bacteria and other microorganisms can become aerosolized and settle on nearby surfaces, including your toothbrush.
Proximity to the toilet
If your toothbrush is placed close to the toilet, it’s more likely to come into contact with airborne particles and water splashes, potentially leading to contamination.
Bathrooms tend to be humid environments, which can promote the growth of bacteria and mould on your toothbrush.
In shared bathrooms, there’s a higher likelihood of cross-contamination, as multiple people may be using the space and touching various surfaces.
So how do I keep my toothbrush free from bacteria?
To address these concerns and keep your toothbrush free from bacteria you should do the following, said Dr Bhalla:
Rinse before use
Always rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water before using it. This can help remove any potential contaminants.
Store upright and separated
Store your toothbrush upright in a toothbrush holder or cup to allow it to air dry. Make sure it doesn’t touch other toothbrushes to prevent cross-contamination.
Toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months or sooner if the bristles become frayed. This helps ensure that you’re using an effective and hygienic toothbrush.
Close the toilet lid
If possible, close the toilet lid before flushing to minimise the spread of airborne particles.
Use a toothbrush cover
Consider using a toothbrush cover that allows for ventilation to protect your toothbrush from contaminants in the bathroom.
Clean the toothbrush holder or cup regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria and mould.
Where should you store your toothbrush?
Ideally, store your toothbrush in a dry area outside of the bathroom, such as a bedroom or a designated toothbrush cabinet, said Dr Bhalla.
She added: “If you must store it in the bathroom, keep it as far away from the toilet as possible, and follow the tips mentioned above to reduce the risk of contamination.”
Is it bad to store your toothbrush in a shared bathroom?
Each person should have their own designated toothbrush holder or cup to prevent contact between toothbrushes, said Dr Bhalla.
She advised:”Encourage good hygiene practices among all users, such as closing the toilet lid when flushing and regular toothbrush replacement.
“Ultimately, while storing your toothbrush in the bathroom does present some potential hygiene risks, following proper hygiene practices and taking precautions can help minimise these risks and keep your toothbrush relatively safe for daily use.”