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ICYMI: Your toothbrush might be laden with shit particles. Yep, just last week, I stumbled across this jarring piece of information — one that I’ve gone 22 beautiful, naive years without knowing and could have done with a few more — on TikTok after Dr Karl (the internet’s favourite medical expert) posted a video explaining that when you flush, your toilet releases a bunch of tiny little droplets into the air. Some of which may be potentially faecal-derived bacteria.

So, if your toilet shares a room with your toothbrush, I think you can connect the dots as to what happens next. Happy Wednesday, I guess!


Do you need scientific evidence to make your housemates flush with the toilet lid shut? Here you go 😎 #drkarl #drkarlkruszelnicki #science

♬ original sound – Dr Karl

After surveying each of my colleagues (read: yelling “who knew they had shit particles on their toothbrushes?” into the office abyss), I was met with mixed responses. Some said they’d heard of it, but others said they had no idea — so for the folks in the latter camp (which was me a mere few days ago), let this article be a public service announcement to you and all your housemates. Start flushing with the lid down, besties.

If you’re struggling to believe this is true (aka, you’re in denial that you’ve willingly shovelled shit into your mouth for years), this study confirms that regardless of the storage method, at least 60% of the toothbrushes tested were contaminated with fecal coliforms after being in communal bathrooms, with an average of 9.4 occupants per bathroom.

There was even a MythBusters episode a couple of years back that tested the same thing, and they found similar results — with footage to go with it. Watch it at your own risk, I’m warning you.

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The good news about it all, though? It appears this bacteria isn’t going to kill you. Why? There’s no research that directly connects toilet-derived aerosols on toothbrushes to making people sick. I mean, that’s gotta be some sort of consolation, right?

If you’re still gagging at the thought of ever brushing your teeth again, though, how can you make sure your toothbrush is somewhat clean before stuffing it in your gob?

First, the easiest thing you can do is close the lid before flushing (and train everyone else in your house to do the same). Also, we wouldn’t bother going on a mad dash to get mouthwash to sterilise that bad boy. The same study from earlier found that bacteria were more common on toothbrushes rinsed in mouthwash. Sorry, germaphobes.

A toothbrush cover isn’t going to cut it either because it actually creates an environment where bacteria are better suited to grow by keeping the bristles moist and not allowing the head of the toothbrush to dry out between uses.

Instead, keeping your toothbrush dry is the best bet by storing it in a toothbrush/electric toothbrush holder somewhere in your bedroom or outside of the bathroom in which your toilet resides.

A wall-mounted toothbrush holder or a suction toothbrush holder like this one also might do the trick.

The jury’s still out on UV toothbrush cleaners, as experts seem to be split on their effectiveness, but they are a good bet if you’re hell-bent on keeping your brush clean (just make sure those babies are dry before putting them in).