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How to Disinfect a Toothbrush

Rinsing a toothbrush with water won’t stop bacteria growth, especially if the brush head can’t dry out properly between uses. Sanitize or disinfect your toothbrush when needed to keep it clean.

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By Mary Gagliardi
Kills 99.9% of
viruses & bacteria*.

*When used as directed on hard nonporous surfaces.

Kills 99.9% of
viruses and
bacteria*.

*When used as directed on
hard nonporous surfaces.

Clorox Product Family

Rinsing the bristles and handle of a toothbrush after brushing can remove toothpaste and food gunk, but that may not be enough when you want to kill germs. There are two situations where you can use Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach to treat a toothbrush. For example, if your toothbrush accidentally ends up in the toilet bowl, disinfecting kills bacteria and viruses. Or, periodically sanitizing a toothbrush kills bacteria that can build up, especially when a toothbrush doesn’t air dry properly between brushing.

Bleach and water solutions make this easy. After washing the toothbrush with a little dish detergent and warm water, soak the brush in the appropriate solution for the required amount of time.

Toothbrushes should always air dry upright in a container that allows good air circulation around the bristles, and large enough so multiple toothbrushes in the same container won’t touch each other. This also applies to detachable heads for electric toothbrushes.

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Caring for electric toothbrush heads

You can clean and then sanitize or disinfect the removable heads on an electric toothbrush only after detaching them from the handle. The heads can be treated with the bleach solution just as you would a manual toothbrush, but not the handle, which can only be wiped clean.

Never submerge the handle of an electric toothbrush, or the charging base, in any bleach and water solution.

What you need

Steps to disinfect a toothbrush

  1. 1

    Make a disinfecting bleach solution

    Measure 2 cups of water into the pint glass, then add 2 teaspoons Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach.

    Tip

    Bleach and water solutions used for disinfecting must be made fresh daily.

  2. 2

    Pre-clean your toothbrush

    Wash the toothbrush with the dish detergent and hot water, then rinse with clean water.

  3. 3

    Soak the toothbrush in the bleach solution

    Drop the toothbrush into the disinfecting solution and let it soak for 6 minutes. 

  4. 4

    Rinse your toothrbrush

    Use clean water to thoroughly rinse the entire toothbrush, both the bristles and the handle, then let it air dry in an upright position. 

Steps to sanitize a toothbrush

You may just want to sanitize your toothbrush. For routine sanitizing, use a more dilute bleach and water solution that doesn’t require rinsing.

  1. 1

    Make a bleach sanitizing solution

    Measure 2 cups of water into the plastic dishpan, then add 1/4 teaspoon Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach.

    Tip

    Bleach and water solutions used for sanitizing must be made fresh daily.

    measuring spoon with liquid
  2. 2

    Pre-clean your toothbrush

    Wash the toothbrush with the dish detergent and hot water, then rinse with clean water.

  3. 3

    Soak the toothbrush in the bleach solution

    Drop the toothbrush into the sanitizing solution and let it soak for 2 minutes. 

  4. 4

    Air dry your toothbrush

    There is no rinsing step when sanitizing food contact surfaces, including toothbrushes. Just let the toothbrush air dry in an upright position and it is ready to use. 

  5. Frequently asked questions

    How do I sanitize an electric toothbrush handle?

    You cannot soak the handle in the bleach and water solution, but you can wipe it down with the solution. After wiping away any obvious gunk on the handle, use a paper towel to wipe the handle with the sanitizing solution. Wipe again to reapply the solution as needed so the handle stays wet for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, let the handle air dry.

    Can you boil a toothbrush to kill germs?

    Boiling water can be effective at killing bacteria, but there are many things to consider before you can be confident boiling is effective in a specific situation. Pre-cleaning, altitude, heat resistance of the bacteria and the amount of organic material present can impact the results. You can learn more here https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/Will-hot-water-kill-bacteria

    • 1.

      Bleach should be stored away from direct sunlight in a cool, dry place. When stored as directed, a bottle of bleach has a one-year shelf-life. This applies to both unopened and opened bottles.