Monday, July 30, 2007

What To Do With Old Toothbrushes

A toothbrush should be changed every three months, we're told. But what should be done with the old ones? Throwing them away seems awfully wasteful to me, so I keep them around and inevitably find uses for them.

One nice feature of the humble toothbrush is that the plastic handle can be broken, either to remove the head to use just the handle, or to make the handle shorter. With gentle pressure and even low heat, the handle can also be bent into a more convenient shape. The bristles can be trimmed to form a stiffer brush or even removed entirely.

Break the handle to about 3" and use as a fingernail cleaner.

Hang in the shower for scrubbing nails and feet. Make sure to clean (and disinfect) it between uses, or various nastiness can grow on it.

If the bristles are cut off, a toothbrush can be filed down with concrete and sandpaper to a surprisingly sharp point or blade, to make an awl or a scraping tool. An old toothbrush can really come in handy in a variety of settings:

In the garage:
  • General cleaner
  • Clean grease, oil and tar from car parts
  • Clean dirt from garden tools and apply used motor oil as protectant
  • Clean rusty items
  • Car detailing: either inside or out
  • Bike chain and gear cleaner
  • Clean power tools such as jigsaws and Sawzalls™
  • Brush the dust and debris from shop vacuum cleaners
  • Use as applicator for pipe thread sealant
  • Spread wood glue
  • Glue sand to bristles, use as wire brush
In the kitchen
  • Break and bend the handle away from the bristles to better scrub permanent coffee filters or the coffee filter basket
  • Use with baking soda for general cleaning, and also the grooves in a George Foreman grill
  • Clean fruits and vegetables from the garden or grocery
Around the house
  • Painting and paint preparation
  • Ceiling fan duster
  • Laundry stain scrubber
  • Grout scrubber
  • Doggy toothbrush
  • Handle for steel wool, cotton ball, cloth
At ThriftyTips, some other uses came out:
Cleaning combs and brushes, bottles, jewelry, shoes, sliding door tracks, toys, window crevices, screens, toilets, faucets, etc. [using different brushes, obviously]. Use as an eyebrow brush.

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