There's something satisfying about finding new uses for something that you thought is at it's end-of-life - especially if it can help you save money and if it is good for the environment at the same time. Like when you use empty loose-tea cans to store buttons, as herb-planters and hold pens or loose change. Sure, you can easily recycle these but isn't it a better use of resources (and your money) if you didn't have to buy new containers for each of these use-cases ?
One such household item that I love to repurpose is an old toothbrush. I admit, we aren't as regular about replacing our toothbrushes as we should be, but there's only so long that you can keep using a worn brush. If you use a bamboo toothbrush like we do in our home, you should be able to easily compost it after removing the bristles. But guess what, an old toothbrush is surprisingly handy for a lot more than just cleaning your teeth - I make the most of my purchase and also don't have to buy new special tools for all these uses - win-win !
Each time we replace our toothbrushes, they become our 'cleaning toothbrushes' and the current set of 'cleaning toothbrushes' get composted. Pro-tip: Be sure to clearly mark the set of used brushes to avoid confusion (in my defense, my pre-coffee brain just refuses to function some days !). It's super easy to write on a bamboo toothbrush with a marker as well.
Here's a few ways you can put your old toothbrush to good use:
1. Clean your computer keyboard
I tend to snack at my desk more than I care to admit, leading to lots of crumbs getting in hard-to-reach places between the keys. Enter trusted, faithful bamboo toothbrush and those crumbs don't know what hit them (pun intended).
2. Spot clean fabric stains
Having a dog means having muddy paws jumping on you ever so often - he forgets all his training when he gets super excited or happy. Dab a little laundry detergent on the stain and gently rub your old toothbrush across it, taking care not to damage the fibre and voila ! Magic toothbrush to the rescue yet again.
3. Clean mud off your shoes
My dog, Leo, seems to have a built-in radar detector for mud - he manages to always drag me to the wettest and muddiest spots in the grass on our walks, especially after it rains. (In addition to bathing him) I usually end up soaking my shoes in a bucket of water to soften the dried mud and then scrub it clean with some laundry soap and my toothbrush. It works great on the rubber, mesh or fabric portion of the shoes but don't use it on leather shoes.
4. Clean your jewelry
Cleaning, gardening, doing dishes does tend to take its toll on my ring and I find I have to shower it with some TLC (Toothbrush Loving Care ;-) ) regularly to restore its shine. I usually soak the ring in warm water for about an hour and always make sure to use a soft-bristled brush so as to not get any scratches on the ring. You may have to use some dish soap or soak it longer if it is extra grimy.
5. Cleaning your coffee grinder or juicer/blender blades
There are times when I forget to clean these immediately after use and once the residue dries, it get hard to clean, especially under the blades. My nifty little toothbrush has no trouble on the other hand to wiggle it way under there and scrub it clean.
6. Unique paint brush for the kids
I remember as a kid being taught to use an old toothbrush, a stencil and some paint to create a unique spray-like texture by dipping the brush in paint and using your fingers to spray paint on the paper. It may be a fun activity for the little ones.
7. Clean bathroom tile grout
Nothing makes a bathroom look old and tired than grubby tiles with grout. Use your favorite natural cleaner (Vinegar and water works for me most times, for stubborn grout I add baking soda)
8. Detail your car
All those crevices in your car seem never ending and tend to accumulate so much dust and dirt. You can keep your headlights and taillights sparkly clean armed with just your faithful toothbrush and some soapy water.
9. Clean baseboards
Deep cleaning your home ? Don't forget the baseboards which seem impervious to most vacuum tools with all those nooks and crevices. Your old toothbrush will will be your savior here to allow you to scrub those clean.
10. Clean your hairbrush and hair dryer
The size of the toothbrush makes it easier to clean hard to reach crevices like cleaning lint from a hairbrush, comb or a hair-dryer. Other cleaning tools don't seem to help much here.
11. Clean bicycle chains
You don’t have to buy a specialized bike chain cleaner - just use your old toothbrush to spot-clean the chain links while it’s still on the bike.
Have you found any other useful ways to repurpose your old toothbrush ? If so, please let me know in the comments.