Most toothbrush bristles are made from nylon - an extremely hygienic flexible synthetic material used to effectively clean teeth and maintain oral health.
Currently, there is no fully natural and compostable toothbrush bristle material available on the market other than pig hair, but there is a significant amount of ethical concerns around that, and is likely to retain bacteria.
Nylon was one of the earliest discovered plastics that could be made into fibres, and has been the staple material for toothbrush bristles since the second world war when DuPont decided to replace animal hair bristles. The reason nylon was (and still is) such a popular material for bristles is because unlike boar bristles, it does not retain bacteria, it is relatively affordable, and is extremely strong while also being flexible.
Nylon also holds up for months against even the most aggressive toothbrushers, and once finished with, can be rinsed and dried without risking the growth of bacteria from use to use. Nylon is currently the most durable option for toothbrush bristles, and can now in fact be manufactured to be softer or firmer depending upon the preferences of the user.
Are Bamboo Toothbrush Bristles Recyclable?
As mentioned, bamboo toothbrush bristles are typically made from a strong, plastic material called nylon, and although these bristles are not biodegradable, they are indeed fully recyclable. So, how do you go about recycling them?
How To Recycle Bamboo Toothbrush Bristles
As bamboo toothbrush bristles are made from a plastic (nylon), they can be popped into your plastic recycling bin for recycling.
To do so, find yourself a pair of pliers and pull the bristles out. To make things easier, we recommend that you pull a small section of bristles at a time. For example, go for a cluster that is in the same hole.
As the bristles are tiny, we don’t recommend throwing them straight into recycling as they may get lost. Instead, pop them inside another plastic bag that’s going into the recycling bin, like a carton, food packaging or a bottle.
If you haven’t got any pliers, you can simply snap the head of the toothbrush off and chuck that in the bin.
But recycling isn’t the only option when your toothbrush has lived its life. In fact, there are a wide range of different uses for your toothbrush and bristles, including a range of tasks around the garden and house.
Alternatives To Recycling Your Bamboo Toothbrush Bristles
Before grabbing the pliers, consider if you can get more use out of your toothbrush, for example as a cleaning brush, stain remover or nail brush.
You can’t go wrong with turning your old toothbrush into a cleaning brush, as they’re great at getting into those hard-to-reach spots around your home or your shoes!
Don't forget your cooking utensils! Your cheese grater, skin peeler and garlic press will be sparkling clean after your toothbrush gives them a thorough clean.
Toothbrush bristles are also fantastic at cleaning out the dirt and grease that forms on outdoor bikes, skateboards, scooters etc.
You can also use toothbrush bristles to clean your dog's teeth!
Nylon bristles are also great for removing stains, and we’re not talking about the ones on your teeth this time!
The strong, durable properties of nylon means that you can use them to tackle tough stains on things like clothes, carpets, shoes etc. Simply scrub with a gentle cleansing soap.
You can even use your toothbrush as a nail brush if you often get grime under your nails - just remember to keep this one separate from your other cleaning brushes.
Brush Fresh Co. is founded and run by a group of UK-based dentists, who specialise in environmentally-friendly and sustainable dental products. From biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes to zero waste toothbrush tablets, our product range has been designed to put both your dental health and the environment first. For more information and dental care advice, head over to our blog page or get in contact with us here.
Written by Kate, on behalf of Brush Fresh Co.