How many toothbrushes do you think you have thrown away during your life? We are advised to change our toothbrush every three months, so in theory by the time somebody is 30 they will have already binned around 120 toothbrushes.
There are estimated to be more than 64 million people in the UK which could mean more than 256 million toothbrushes are discarded every year. That's a very big pile of plastic but have you ever thought what happens to them? Here at the Oral Health Foundation we have taken a look at the potential uses for your toothbrush after it has finished its primary job of cleaning your teeth. What we have found is that we are remarkably creative when it comes to prolonging the usefulness of our little bristled friends.
Encouragingly, our research shows that 80% of us choose to repurpose our toothbrushes, so here are 10 best life hacks for your toothbrush which could save you valuable time and money and your environment.
1. Nail brush magic - Admit it, removing that stubborn dirt from beneath our nails can be difficult and even tedious. Use your old toothbrush to remove it in seconds! One person even told us they keep one in their handbag just in case they need to brush up on the go.
2. Wheelie good - A surprising number of people told us they use their old toothbrush to clean the chain on their bicycle. Apparently, it is the perfect size to get into those little places.
3. Back to the bathroom - Some toothbrushes are never destined to leave the bathroom. By far the most popular use of an old toothbrush is to help clean those hard to reach cracks and crannies in the bathroom, and it certainly comes in handy for scrubbing the grout between the tiles.
4. Putting the sparkle back - An old toothbrush is the perfect tool to give your jewellery back their shine and sparkle, giving you back your brilliant bling!
5. Getting fishy - This may not have been one of the most popular but was definitely one of the more unusual uses. A few people told us they use an old toothbrush to clean ornaments in their fish tank, as they need a clean home too!
6. Paws for thought - One from the foundation team here, we think this may just be tickly torture but apparently, a toothbrush is perfect for cleaning a dog's nails and paws.
7. Model behaviour - For you modelling experts out there, and we're talking more clay than Kate Moss, an old toothbrush is ideal to create texture on your creations.
8. Exfoliate away - To some of the male members of our office this one surprised us as to how widely known it was. Many people use a toothbrush to exfoliate their lips when they are chapped. How somebody finds out this is an effective beauty tip is a different question!
9. Hair today - One for the home hairdressers, a toothbrush is perfect for picking out your highlights, so if you're in the salon and see a toothbrush on the counter don't be alarmed.
10. CRUMBS! Take a close look at your computer keyboard. Did you know that your keyboard has been proven to harbour more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat? A toothbrush is perfect for cleaning out all those little nasties. Going out for lunch might be a good idea too.
It is important to remember to change your toothbrush, or head on your electric toothbrush, every three months to help stop the spread of bacteria and to ensure you are brushing your teeth effectively. Be sure that before the next time you go to throw one away, you think about how else you can put it to use around the house - and let us know if you find any usual use for your old toothbrush.
The Oral Health Foundation is supporting the Warwickshire wide ‘Slim your Bin' scheme, a community focused scheme, and free to all residents living in Stratford-on-Avon district as well as North Warwickshire, Warwick district and Nuneaton and Bedworth borough. Through an engaging community education initiative, the scheme aims to reduce waste and get people recycling more, while benefiting local community projects and promoting community spirit.
To find out more about the ‘Slim Your Bin' initiative visit www.warwickshire.slim-your-bin.com and see how you can get involved in this very worthy campaign.