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The American Dental Association suggests replacing your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles start looking frayed. And if you’ve had a cold or the flu, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences advises tossing your brush in favor of a new one.
That means you’re sending at least three or four brushes to the landfill each year — unless, of course, you find other uses for them.
Following are several ways to get a little more life from those discarded bristles.
If you’re grossed out by the possibility of them transferring germs to other objects, douse your old toothbrush in your disinfectant of choice before putting it to new use.
Remove laundry stains
I use old toothbrushes to work the stain remover into that catsup blotch on a shirtsleeve.
Note that the stain remover does not necessarily have to be one of those commercial products. Homemade versions can be just as effective — see “7 Stains You Can Remove With Cheap Household Products.”
Shine up your jewelry
Soak your bling in jewelry cleaner, then use the toothbrush — gently — to remove any remaining tarnish.
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Incidentally, you can make your own jewelry cleaner. Three options suggested by Good Housekeeping are:
Dish soap and warm water
White-paste toothpaste (not gel)
Baking soda and water
Scrape your shoe soles
Use an old toothbrush to scrape mud — or worse — from the bottom of your shoes. It’s especially good for getting in between the tread.
Clean your car battery
A clean battery can help prevent stalling. And cleaning a car battery is a fairly simple process, requiring a toothbrush and baking soda or cola beverage. NAPA’s Know How Blog walks you through it.
Clean all kinds of other things
Lots of things can be cleaned with a toothbrush — including but not limited to tile grout, garlic presses, cheese graters, those tight spaces around faucets, in the crevices of your car’s dashboard, the corners of your fish tank. You can also use a toothbrush to loosen gunk on your waffle iron or your can opener.
A toothbrush has all kinds of personal grooming applications as well. To name a few:
Clean your fingernails after gardening.
Apply hair dye.
Brush a beard, goatee or ‘stache.
Tame unruly eyebrows.
Tease small sections of hair.
Ever thought of turning a discarded toothbrush into a rug-making tool? Neither have I, but I was impressed by this and other tips from FaveCrafts.com.
For example, you could use the brush to clean calligraphy pen tips, apply foiling to a detailed surface, create a “spatter” paint effect or add texture to clay works. Who knew?