Welcome to GreenItUp, a database of common items, and how to reduce, reuse, and recycle them.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Toothbrushes

Includes manual toothbrushes.

Supposedly around 50 million pounds of toothbrushes end up in landfills every year (magical number commonly found around the internet). This supposedly is based on an estimate that each American replaces their toothbrush twice a year. Among all the wasteful habits and garbage we needlessly generate, I think toothbrushes should be low on the priority list. Pick your battles. Nonetheless…


It’s good to maximize the use of each brush, but for the sake of your health and oral hygiene, don’t use a brush longer than you’re supposed to (3 to 4 months, or until the bristles start to fray).

Eco-Dent’s Terradent line has replaceable heads so when it’s time for a new brush, you save the Earth one handle’s-worth of plastic. Available at “most major natural products stores and online retailers”.


Before reusing brushes, consider sanitizing them first by dunking them in Listerine or diluted hydrogen peroxide for several minutes. Putting them in the dishwasher or microwave may damage the brushes. Next, label the brush with a permanent marker to avoid it being used for the wrong purpose.

Use old brushes to clean stuff, commonly bathroom and kitchen fixtures, tiles, anything that has crevices or requires detailed cleaning. Be careful you don’t brush close to anything with coatings that can be damaged by the bristles (such as some glasses lenses).

Toothbrushes can be fun art tools. Create nice splatter/sprinkle patterns by dunking the brush in your painting medium, then run your finger over the bristles so they “flick” the liquid.

If you have one of those cheapie clear toothbrushes (probably from the dentist’s/orthodontist’s office), you can make a bracelet. Woo hoo.


Typically toothbrushes are not made of recyclable material.

Recycline sells a Preserve line of toothbrushes made of recycled/recyclable materials. If your neighborhood recycling program accepts #5 plastics, you can toss these brushes into the bin. Otherwise, you can send the brushes back to the manufacturer to have them recycled. Keep in mind shipping indirectly causes pollution.


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