Toothbrush is home to more than 100 million bacteria including E. coli and staphylococci (Staph) bacteria, according to researchers at the University of Manchester in England. And the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that fecal germs were on your toothbrushes too.

All that sounds gross, but you needn’t panic. Your mouth is also full of bacteria and your toothbrush probably won’t make you sick, but there are ways to keep it clean so you stay healthy.

Where you store your toothbrush in your bathroom is important. In most bathrooms, the toilet is very close to the sink, where most people keep their toothbrushes. Every time you flush, bacteria are released into the air – and you don’t want that bacteria to get on your toothbrush.

“It’s just common sense to store your toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible,” says McCombs. Keep it in a medicine cabinet if possible, and always close the toilet lid before flushing to minimize the spread of bacteria onto your toothbrush.

Toothbrush Storage Tips

After you’ve moved your toothbrush as far from the toilet as possible, and cleaned your toothbrush holder, here are some storage tips to keep your toothbrush as germ-free as possible:

  • Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water every time you use it.
  • Let your toothbrush dry thoroughly between brushings. Don’t use toothbrush covers, which can create a moist enclosed breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Keep your toothbrush upright in a holder, rather than lying it down.
  • Don’t ever use anyone else’s toothbrush, or let someone use yours.

Keep toothbrushes separate. If toothbrushes touch they can swap germs.

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