What I’m after here is admittedly niche and of small consequence in the grand scheme of things but then so are lots of things that wiggle under my skin and stay there.
I am on an multi-year hunt for a simple toothbrush that fits three main requirements:
- It’s nice to look at.
- It fits inside the built-in vintage ceramic toothbrush holder above my sink.
- Its afterlife will be relatively low-impact on the planet.
You would not imagine this would be so difficult and yet here we are, without a perfect toothbrush, but with a few options to consider, and an open call for innovation on this front.
This is the type of toothbrush my family tends to use. They look nice, feel nice, and if they have plant-based bristles, they’re relatively low-impact on the planet. (Greenwashing caveats abound.) They also tend to come in sizes designed for children and absent the licensed artwork or bells and whistles typical of kids’ brushes. They do not, however, neatly fit into the ceramic toothbrush holders of yore. (We keep ours in a cup in the bathroom and rinse out the bottom when it inevitably gets sludgy.) There are many (many) different brands making and selling these brushes, but Brush With Bamboo is probably the one I see most often. Save some variations in bristle materials and colors, bamboo brushes tend to be remarkably similar in design, which is to say, that none of them fit in vintage built-in toothbrush holders. Still, when I occasionally gripe about the dearth of brushes that fit retro holders, people inevitably recommend them. I’m left to assume that one of three things is happening here: 1.) Reasonably, there might different built-in ceramic toothbrush holders of varying sizes and shapes and some of them, somewhere, fit the relatively slim handles of bamboo brushes. 2.) Our definition of “fit” is different. Technically, the very end of bamboo toothbrushes fit into our toothbrush holder, as shown above. If we could all manage to be very careful and never accidentally knock them over into grubby corner between the sink and bathtub, we might be in luck (and also superhuman). 3. Hope springs eternal and folks are very eager to help, but woefully mistaken, in their assuredness that slim bamboo brushes will fit into vintage toothbrush holders. It’s a mystery.
Recycled/Recyclable Plastic Toothbrushes
The Preserve Plastic Toothbrush fits in our toothbrush holder and the white brush meets my standards for relative beauty in toothbrushing. The brushes are also made from recycled #5 plastics and once you have a small collection you can send them back to the company for recycling. All-in-all, they’re an improvement over standard-issue toothbrushes. The downsides are that the barrier to recycling is relatively high with the needing to save up and ship off for recycling. And that up until very recently, each brush came in its own plastic box which felt like a not terrific solution for a product touting its eco chops (though they seem to have made some very recent improvements). My most superficial quibble is the choice of colors: Grass Green, Berry Red, Purple, Orange, and that particular bright blue always associated with all things bathroom. (Would that they came in the pleasing color selections of Hay’s Tann Toothbrush.)
+ Beechwood Handle Toothbrush: I was *very* excited to see if this Iris Hantverk toothbrush might be a candidate for the job, but while quite slender front to back, the base of the brush is still too wide across to fit our holder. When I tell you I’m tempted to whittle this brush into the proper size, please believe me. But as with butter, I think the realities of regularly whittling the whole family’s toothbrush selection might be taking things a bit too far.
+ Aluminum Handled Toothbrush: A few folks have recommended Grin Toothbrushes, made with a reusable aluminum handle and replaceable plastic toothbrush heads that can be mailed back and recycled with the company. While slim, I feel confident in saying these handles would not fit into the micro-slots of a vintage toothbrush holder, but if that is not a thing you worry about, they might be worth taking a look. A bonus would certainly be the anti-sludge nature of an aluminum handle.
What else? What have you found? Did you stop reading when you saw the word toothbrush?
PS. Special thanks to two kind readers who went above and beyond the call of reader duty the last time I talked about toothbrushes to 1. Draw me a schematic of how I might retrofit my retro holder to better accommodate modern day toothbrushes and 2. Point me in the direction of Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd’s My World, which has a very stellar illustration of a toothbrush hook solution.
PPS. No thanks to the reader who suggested I halt my search for open-air toothbrush storage because cockroaches are attracted to toothpaste. (!)