Bamboo toothbrushes are a fantastic eco-friendly addition to your home. They are made from a sustainable material and are biodegradable which minimizes the risk of them causing harm to ocean animals. Check out the top questions asked about bamboo toothbrushes and answers.
What is a bamboo toothbrush?
Bamboo toothbrushes have a handle made from bamboo and bristles made from plant fiber, boar hair or plastic. The natural bamboo handle can be composted or added to your green-waste bin making them an eco friendly choice. They make less plastic waste than your normal toothbrush and are biodegradable.
For a huge range of bamboo toothbrushes check them out on Amazon.
Are bamboo toothbrushes better than plastic?
Bamboo toothbrushes are better than plastic because they produce less plastic waste, which can end up in the ocean or landfill. A toothbrush is a common plastic disposable product which is usually used for 3-4 months and then thrown away. This means bamboo toothbrushes will create less plastic waste over a lifetime.
Bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable whereas plastic toothbrushes can last for many years. Bamboo toothbrushes will break down as quickly as 3-4 months. They clean your teeth as well as a regular plastic toothbrush (without the plastic waste) and can be bought in cardboard packaging which is easily recycled.
Bamboo is naturally antibacterial so they will help to reduce the amount of bacteria on your handle.
I have found that they will last as long as a plastic toothbrush. If you are a regular supermarket shopper, picking up a bamboo toothbrush is easy and there are lots to choose from.
How to choose a bamboo toothbrush
When you go to choose your bamboo toothbrush, choose one with a brush head that fits your mouth. If you have a smaller mouth like me, have a look through and choose one with a fine or slim head. If you are buying a bamboo toothbrush for kids, look out for the children’s version. They will be smaller and have softer heads.
Decide what bristles you want. They may be plant derived or plastic. I have been trying out a plant derived bristle which can be recycled with soft plastics and feel great on my teeth and gums.
They seem to work just as well as normal plastic bristles and I can’t really notice any difference. You can get boar bristle toothbrushes but I have heard these are hard to clean and may carry bacteria so I haven’t tried these.
How long bamboo toothbrushes last
Bamboo toothbrushes have lasted for me in good condition for 3 months. I have used them for up to 4 months before replacing mine and they are still going strong. Remember, you should replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or when you see the bristles start to fray and bend.
I have found that my bamboo toothbrush handle actually gets lighter in color as I use it but this doesn’t make any difference to how it works.
How to recycle bamboo toothbrushes
Bamboo toothbrushes can be recycled straight into your compost. You need to remove the bristles first because they will not break down. Even if they are made from a plant-derived source, they won’t break down quickly in the normal composting process.
How bamboo toothbrushes are made
Most toothbrushes are made from a ‘giant’ species of bamboo from China. Bamboo is technically a grass, so when stems are removed, they will continue to grow back from the main roots. It can grow incredibly fast, up to 40 inches in one day.
Bamboo absorbs carbon from the atmosphere as it grows and the plant releases oxygen. Bamboo is a crop that grows fast with minimal fertilizers and pesticides making it a great product to use for toothbrushes.
I like to check the pack to make sure the bamboo has been harvested using sustainable farming practices. This is usually written on the side of the box or on the manufacturers website.
How long it takes to grow bamboo for toothbrushes
Bamboo takes about 4 years to grow to a size where it is ready to pick and 1 cane can make around 200 bamboo toothbrushes. They are basically cut down into short lengths, they are shaped, and some are carbonized.
This is a heating process which sterilizes the bamboo. There is usually a period where the bamboo is left to dry, getting it ready to have the bristles added.
How often to change a bamboo toothbrush
The Australian Dental Association recommends changing your toothbrush every 3 months.
The American Dental Association recommends changing every 3-4 months or when the bristles have frayed.
I have found that bamboo toothbrushes will last just as well as the ones with plastic handles. I find that after a month or so the handle can start to feel a little rough. They still clean my teeth well and feel comfortable in my hand.
The newer versions are starting to come with a natural beeswax coating. This keeps them feeling smoother for longer so I would recommend choosing one with this coating. I also choose BPA free bristles when I can.
How to store a bamboo toothbrush
Bamboo toothbrushes need to be stored in a place that will allow them to dry out completely between brushes. The bamboo handle will absorb water so needs air to dry out. It is much better to store them in an open-aired toothbrush holder rather than a cup as they will dry out quicker and stay cleaner.
Step-by-step guide to recycling your bamboo toothbrush
Most bamboo toothbrushes will have bristles that won’t break down in a compost heap. You will need to remove them first and throw them away separately.
1. Remove the bristles with pliers
Grab the bristles tightly with pliers and give them a good pull. They should come out easily and can be thrown away. They can be recycled in a plastic recycling facility so you can bundle them up with your soft plastics. Lots of large supermarkets are now offering this service, so I bring it back to the store I bought it from.
2. Compost the bamboo handle at home or in green-waste bins
You can compost the bamboo handle in two simple ways:
Green Waste Bin
It can be added to your green-waste bin at home if your local municipality provides you with one. This will be composted with leaves, twigs and other tree trimmings. Most recycling centers will compost this waste on an industrial scale, shredding the matter and hot composting the mix.
This will help the toothbrush handle to break down as quickly as possible and be ready to add back to the garden. Most councils will sell or even give away compost or mulch that can be used at home.
Home Compost Bin
You can add your bamboo handle into your home compost bin. If you have a small, cool compost heap, this can take over 6 months to break down. If you have a hot compost, you will find the process will be quicker.
Even if the bamboo handle has not broken down when added to your garden, it will continue to break down over time and you probably won’t even notice it.
Turn your Bamboo toothbrush into a garden label
Fun Idea: Another way to re-use your bamboo toothbrush handle is to turn it upside down and use it in your herb or veggie garden as a label. Just write the name of the herb or veggie in permanent marker on the end and place it in the ground. The bamboo will eventually breakdown so it is an eco-friendly way to give it a second life.
How to clean a bamboo toothbrush
Keeping your bamboo toothbrush in good shape is really easy. There are 2 easy steps that you will need to take to clean your bamboo toothbrush between uses.
Rinse with cold, clean water
Before and after you have finished brushing your teeth, give the toothbrush head and handle a good rinse with cold, clean water. Run it under a tap until the water runs clean and all of the toothpaste is removed.
Air dry your toothbrush
I have found that I don’t have to dry my toothbrush with a towel but placing it somewhere that it can air dry is important.
Bamboo Toothbrushes – Summary
Bamboo toothbrushes are a great addition to an eco-friendly life. Toothbrushes are a disposable product that we should be replacing every 3-4 months. For a family of 4 we would then be throwing out 16 toothbrushes a year, which could be over 300 toothbrushes for each person over a lifetime.
That really starts to add up over the years. It is no wonder they are starting to show up in oceans and washed up on shores.
A simple, easy swap you and your family can make that will save some plastic each year is to use a bamboo toothbrush. This is a swap that I have been happy to make and I also like the idea of having less plastic in my mouth.
There are lots of bamboo bathroom products out now, even toilet paper. I will be trying these out and writing about them in the coming weeks.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.
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