Poo-Covered Toothbrush in Bathroom Myth Busted
If you've never heard of toilet plume before, get ready to freak out for a second. But don't worry, this is good news.
Toilet plume is the term for tiny, germ-filled droplets that end up in the air when you flush the toilet, and people have been stressing over it for years because experts said some of that plume can end up on your toothbrush.
But a new study found you probably don't have to worry about it.
Researchers at Northwestern analyzed the bacteria on 34 used toothbrushes, and they did find a lot of bacteria, but not the type you flush. The vast majority of the microbes they found were the type that live in your mouth or on your skin, not in your gut. However, some of the bacteria they found also exists in your gut, but they say it's much more likely those particles came from people's mouths than from their toilets.
In other words, flushing probably won't fling fecal matter all over your bathroom, and previous studies have found that even if tiny amounts do get on your toothbrush, it's not a health risk.
I was telling my daughter, Khloe, about toilet plume a few days ago. I too have been bamboozled by this myth for years. I walked into the kids' bathroom and there was Khloe's toothbrush sitting on the counter with no cover on it. Her bedroom is right by the bathroom, so I told her to come see me, and I explained to her that if she didn't cover her toothbrush head, then every time someone flushes the toilet, poo gets on her brushes.
That was probably the tenth time I have told her and her brother to cover their toothbrushes unless they want someone else's poo in their mouths. Now I feel like I've been lying to my kids for years. I guess it's still a good practice to keep a toothbrush covered since it's going into your mouth anyway, but not for the reason I've been preaching for years.