In a study presented at the American Society for Microbiology annual meeting, researchers found that more than 60% of toothbrushes collected from students’ shared bathrooms tested positive for fecal matter.
And in 80% of those cases, it was determined that the fecal matter was someone else’s. Fecal matter on a toothbrush is icky enough, but someone else’s is particularly worrisome because their fecal matter will have bacteria, viruses or parasites that are not part of your normal flora. These microcontaminants were likely picked up from the air after being left on a counter top in open storage.
In addition, the study found no difference in the toothbrushes of users who brush with cold or hot water or who rinse with antibacterial mouthwash. But before you go covering up your toothbrush, keep in mind that brushes must be allowed to fully dry between cleanings or additional bacterias will grow. The researchers reiterated the American Dental Association’s recommendations. These include:
- Avoid sharing toothbrushes
- Do not cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers
- Replace toothbrushes at least every 3-4 months
- Rinse toothbrushes thoroughly with tap water after use and allow them to air-dry.
And, when possible, opt for a private bathroom!
Whiteman, H. (2015, June 6). “Fecal matter found on more than 60% of toothbrushes in shared bathrooms.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from