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Are Toothbrush Sanitizers Effective?

When I was a kid, one of my teachers once told our class that bacteria from human waste in the bathroom could find its way on to our toothbrush.  Later that day, I went home and moved my toothbrush as far away from the toilet as I could.

Toothbrush SanitizerIt has also recently been shown that bacteria can grow on our toothbrush when it’s just sitting in the bathroom and not being used.

It is reasons like these that many people are looking into purchasing toothbrush sanitizers.

I’ve often wondered if they are really worth it.  Sure, there is bacteria on my toothbrush.  Has it ever made me sick?  Probably not.  That is why I personally don’t use a toothbrush sanitizer.  I figure if it’s not broken, there’s no point in fixing it.  However, I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes do things the wrong way.

In looking at the effectiveness of toothbrush sanitizers, we need to ask ourselves two questions:

  1. Do toothbrush sanitizers kill bacteria?
  2. If they do kill bacteria, does it really make a difference?

Do Toothbrush Sanitizers Kill Bacteria

Toothbrush sanitizers do kill bacteria.  In fact, some can kill 99.999% of the bacteria on your toothbrush.  So in regards to whether they kill bacteria, the answer is yes.

Does the Fact That They Kill Bacteria Make a Difference?

Will it prevent you from getting sick?  If you are sick, will the fact that it doesn’t introduce bacteria when you brush help you get over your sickness more quickly?

Here’s what the American Dental Association has to say about toothbrush sanitizers:

There are several commercially available toothbrush sanitizers on the market. Although data do not demonstrate that they provide a specific health benefit, if a consumer chooses to use one of these devices, the Council recommends that they select a product cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products cleared by FDA are required to provide data to the Agency to substantiate cleared claims.

In spite of this, I have to admit that I am a bit of a germophobe and can understand why people wouldn’t want to stick a bunch of bacteria in their mouth everyday, even if it most likely won’t harm them.

Here are a couple sanitizers that you may want to check out:

If you do end up getting one, you should inspect your brush to make sure that the sanitizing cycle isn’t reducing the lifespan of your toothbrush.



  1. Instead of purchasing a sanitizer, wouldn’t it be just as effective to put the head of your toothbrush in some boiling water to sterilize it? Or how about dipping it in some rubbing alcohol?

    • Hi Rachel – I’m not sure about the statistics, but I believe that boiling water would sanitize your toothbrush as well as the tooth sanitizers out there. Sterilizing means killing all of the bacteria on your toothbrush, which would be very difficult in a home setting.

      Personally, I just rinse off my toothbrush and put it in the cabinet. I do this because it’s impossible to remove all of the bacteria from my mouth so I don’t see the point in removing all of the bacteria from my tooth brush. Just my opinion though. I know there are people who hold stronger feelings about toothbrush sanitation. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Hi Tom,
    Has anyone looked at the efficacy of alternate methods of sanitizing toothbrushes, i.e., UV light sanitizers vs rubbing alcohol vs throwing them in the dishwasher vs putting in boiling water for x minutes?


    • Hi Carrie – I do remember reading a study in a journal six months or so ago that examined the different methods to sanitize a toothbrush. I just tried looking for it for the past five minutes and couldn’t find it. When I do, I will try to research it better and write an article about it.

      I wish I could be of more help. Thanks for your comment!


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