According to the Aurora Dental Group, the average toothbrush lasts three months. After 90 days, you should be swapping yours out for a new one, provided you care about your oral hygiene. But don’t just toss that old brush—or, at least, not right away. First, use it to scrub those hard-to-clean areas of your home that don’t always get enough attention. Here are five ways to put your old toothbrush to good use before sending it to the landfill.
Clean out your car’s nooks and crannies
Cleaning your car usually consists of a good wash and a vacuum of the interior; the smaller crevices of the car are overlooked. Reader’s Digest suggests using a toothbrush to clean your car’s air vents, which are notoriously small. Cleaning in-between vent slats can be difficult with just a rag, but toothbrush bristles can get in there more easily, loosening any dirt and dust.
Household help site One Good Thing also recommends using a toothbrush to clean your car’s vinyl seat coverings and other plastic surfaces, too. When used in a circular motion, the small bristles remove ingrained dirt just as well as they loosen plaque on your teeth.
Clean your faucets and grout
Mildew and buildup develop quickly around your bathroom (and kitchen) faucets, causing a strange film to develop that can sometimes be hard to remove with a rag or sponge. Taking a toothbrush to your faucets can release stubborn mildew and crude buildup. The small head gently removes the gunk between the faucet hardware and the rubber connectors.
Your toothbrush needing replacement can also serve as a reminder to clean the grout in your bathroom. I have gone through numerous scrubbing apparatuses looking for the perfect brush to get in-between the tiles in my bathroom, but the perfect solution was right under my nose: Using an old toothbrush is a tedious but effective way to give the grout on your bathroom walls and floor a deep clean that will last until you replace your next one.
Freshen up your appliances
Replacing a toothbrush can also be a reminder to clean those hidden parts of your appliances that you usually don’t think about: your dishwasher’s filters, your washing machine seals, and small kitchen tools like your cheese grater and garlic press, all of which are very efficient at collecting small bits of food and grime in cracks and crevices that are very hard to reach with a sponge or paper towel.
Put it to use in your home office
The New York Post reported 30% of Americans eat lunch while working. Now that our desk chairs are also our sofas and armchairs, they are prone to lunchtime accidents. I’ve tried using OxiClean in a spray bottle and scrubbing with a sponge, but nothing targets the stains like the small head of a toothbrush.
You can also use a dental brush to gently clean your computer keyboard, getting in-between the keys quicker than a q-tip and more efficiently than a traditional duster.
Keep your personal items looking new
Sneakerheads have long understood the practical uses of a discarded toothbrush. You can not only clean the rubber and leather areas with a toothbrush, but it makes scrubbing the laces easy—simply remove them and run the toothbrush along both sides with soap and water. The New York Times notes “the best tool for cleaning leather uppers, midsoles, and outsoles is an old, soft-bristled toothbrush.”
The worn-down bristles are also a delicate option for cleaning jewelry. A toothbrush is perfect for getting in the small corners and fine filigree of your pearl earrings or gemstone studded rings, saving you money and a trip to the jewelers.