Should You Throw Away Your Toothbrush After A Bad Cold Or Flu Virus?

March 7, 2016  |  

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

There is nothing that feels more labor-intensive than trying to brush your teeth and clean out your mouth when you have a bad cold or a nasty flu virus. Aside from the lack of energy you have to stand there and get to scrubbing for minutes on end, there’s the whole issue of an overload of phlegm backed up in your throat and nose that you’re trying to get rid of.

Knowing all the yucky stuff (including mucus on your tongue) that your toothbrush comes into contact with when you’re sick, recently asked the question of whether or not we need to ditch our brushes post-sickness.

The answer is no according to Dr. Natalie Azar. While continuing the use of a toothbrush that was once covered in your sicky sick germs sounds pretty gross, it isn’t grounds for disposal.

“You develop antibodies for each of the viruses you are exposed to. If you are having a cold that feels like it just doesn’t quit, it is probably a different cold virus.”

So if you were worried that the germs from your cold that you transmitted to your toothbrush could turn around and make you sick again, you don’t have to worry. The antibodies fight off the virus, and your body is no longer responsive to the strain that made you ill. But that doesn’t mean other germs couldn’t put you right back on bed rest. says there are more than 200 distinctive strains on the move at a given time. So if you have other bacteria lingering on your toothbrush for some reason, like flu, e-coli, strep or staph, you will get sick again–and obviously, with something a bit more serious.

So while you don’t have to get rid of the toothbrush, it’s not a bad idea to do so and start off fresh, especially if you had the brush for a while before getting sick. If you decide not to, it’s at least recommended that you switch out brushes every three months.

My mom used to tell us that boiling our toothbrushes after a cold could help remove germs. But nowadays, I just have a designated cold brush and an all-free-and-clear brush for everyday use. What do you do with your toothbrush after an illness?

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