All the Reasons Your Toothbrush Is Gross (and When to Change It)

If you took the time to consider just how much bacteria is currently living on everything around you, you'd likely go mad.

Turns out, our towels are gross after just three uses, our kitchens are crawling with germs, and evidently, our toothbrushes are essentially petri dishes of bacteria.

Especially now that it's flu season, it's worth it to pay a little closer attention to the cleanliness of the thing that you're putting into your mouth twice a day (at least). Here are a bunch of times you should consider throwing your old one away.

If you've recently been sick

A tableau of sickness. Again. #newyorker #tea #winter #sniffles #coughing #reading #medicine

A photo posted by Sara Wainwright (@hungryginger) on

There is no hard and fast rule on changing your toothbrush after sickness, but it's always a good idea to swap out a fresh one after a cold, and especially after the flu.

If the bristles are frayed

It's not just an aesthetic thing—frayed toothbrush bristles can cause irritation or even gum damage. If you see that your brush is beginning to fray, it's probably time to toss it.

If it's stored near the toilet

Yes, the bacteria from your toilet flushing can make its way to your clean, clean toothbrush. Store your brush as far away from it as possible to avoid contamination.

If you keep it in a cabinet or case

Keeping toothbrushes covered prevents them from properly drying out, which attracts more bacteria to build up. They are best stored upright and uncovered.

If it's not at its freshest

If you're noticing that your breath is a bit off lately, it may be because it's time to change your toothbrush. Brushes can be disinfected rather than simply tossed—the most effective way is to soak it in mouthwash for about 20 minutes.

H/t: Redbook