Can a toothbrush cover prevent germs? Is it unsanitary to keep your toothbrush in your bathroom? Do my spouse and I need separate toothbrush cups?

For such a small and simple instrument, the toothbrush sparks a lot of questions about proper storage. Here are three tips for safely storing your toothbrush.

Tip 1: Think high and dry: The most important rule of thumb for toothbrush storage is to make sure the brush can dry out between uses. The American Dental Association recommends you store toothbrushes in the upright position, so they can air dry. If you use a cup to prop your toothbrush up, make sure your brush’s bristles aren’t touching anyone else’s to help prevent germs from spreading.

Tip 2: Your toothbrush can stay in the bathroom: Storing your toothbrush in the bathroom is just plain convenient, but you can’t help but wonder if having it near the toilet is sanitary. Keeping the toothbrush in the bathroom is quite normal. Some suggest that you should keep it 6 feet from the toilet and ensure you close the toilet lid each time before flushing, but there is no scientific evidence to support this. If you want to be extra careful, put some distance between your toothbrush and the toilet—but no need to banish the brush from the bathroom.

Tip 3: The verdict on toothbrush covers: The idea of a using a toothbrush cover as a germ-blocking barrier seems legitimate, but it violates Tip No. 1 safe storage rule: Allow the brush to air dry. You don’t want to cover the toothbrush, because covering actually promotes bacteria growth. While you should avoid toothbrush covers for everyday use, short-term uses (like during travel) are OK.

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