Toilet Plume Research


Everyday a new development comes up that can incredibly useful or incredibly useless. Researchers have new findings of a studies that says toothbrushes can be a home for bacteria including fecal matter and E Coli which can travel in aerosol can affect your health all coming from flushing the toilet. What is toilet plume research?

There is evidence of a phenomenon called Toilet plume, a term for what happens when the force of flushing sprays microscopic particles of pee, poop, & whatever else is in the bowl into the air & transmits bacteria to surfaces including toothbrushes in the bathroom and beyond.

Ever wonder how dirty your bathroom can be even if you are scrubbing it to death keeping it as clean as possible. It’s a lot more than meets the eye but can we do anything about it?


Toothbrush Bacteria Experiment


As you flush the toilet tiny particle are released into the air and travel to different parts of the bathroom. Even toothbrushes outside the bathroom can be covered with fecal matter. Tiny droplets of  water form an aerosol that lands on anything in the vicinity of the toilet you flushed.

MythBusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage uncovered the dirty truth to this myth by covering a bathroom with 24 toothbrushes, two of which they brushed with each morning — the others they simply rinsed every day for a month. Using two toothbrushes as controls for the experiment, that were kept in a different parts of the house and far from the bathroom they used only 2 tooth brushes and rinsed the others that were kept in the bathroom. At the end of the month long experiment, all the toothbrushes were sent out to a certified lab and bacterially tested by a microbiologist. The conclusion was :

Astonishingly, all the toothbrushes were speckled with microscopic fecal matter, including the ones that had never seen the inside of a bathroom and were stored at the far end of the house. The confirmed myth unfortunately proved that there’s indeed fecal matter on toothbrushes — and also everywhere else.

Toothbrush Bacteria Facts


“Toothbrushes can become contaminated with oral microbial organisms whenever they are placed in the mouth,” says Sharon Cooper, PhD.
Viruses and bacteria from an infected person’s mouth can live for weeks on a toothbrush surface, and continue to cause illness, says Cooper, a clinical associate professor at the University of Florida College of Dentistry.

She went on to say that toothbrushes don’t have to be sold in sterile box or packages so there could be microbes living on the bristles of the toothbrush right out of the box.

Even in a clean environment bacteria can survive in the right temperature for as many as 6 hours after contact. The average toothbrush can contain more than 100 million types of bacteria that are found in the average home including E.Coli, Staphylococcus Aureus, Streptococcus Mutans, Lactobacillus and more.

Not all of these microbes are dangerous. Some lingering microorganisms multiply, they can compromise your oral health and can actually lead to other health problems in your body. Here are a few of the nasty microorganisms that may be lurking inside your toothbrush.

Streptococcus is an acid producing bacteria that can affect your oral health and can bring on tooth decay.

Herpes simplex virus
Oral herpes, also commonly known as cold sores, reveals itself as an infection inside the mouth or on the lips. Herpes simplex is highly contagious and once people are infected with the virus they are infected for life. When first infected, outbreaks occur frequently, but symptoms decrease over time.

Toilet bacteria are germs that produced by the flushing of the john and bacteria being sent across the room or farther in a airborne mist that can be discounting to try and visualize but we get the point. Studies show that people who store and and brush their teeth in the bathroom have most

Influenza virus
The influenza virus is another bug that can call your toothbrush home. To prevent the spread of cold and flu viruses in your household, make sure you keep your toothbrush isolated from family members’ brushes. Toothbrush holders over the sink and separated from each other is the best answer. Air dry and don’t let the families personal bristles touch each other.

How do you Sterilize a toothbrush


According to the ADA or the American Dental Association here are some toothbrush care tips to share with your patients:

  • Toothbrushes should not be shared. Sharing a toothbrush could result in an exchange of bodily fluids and microorganisms between people.
  • Rinse the toothbrush thoroughly after each use to remove any remaining paste and debris.
  • Store toothbrushes in an upright position after use and allow them to air dry. Storing a moist toothbrush in a closed container promotes microbial growth more so than leaving it exposed to the open air.
  • Toothbrushes should be replaced approximately every three to four months or more often if the bristles become matted or frayed. The effectiveness of the brush decreases as the bristles become worn.

How to Clean Toothbrush With Hydrogen Peroxide

Toothbrushes have been found to be home to many bacteria including Fecal Coliform and E Coli. These can be spread after the toilet is flushed or the owner touches something and physically spreads the germs by themselves.  While there is little data in the literature regarding toothbrush sanitizing, 

One study indicates that soaking a toothbrush in 3 percent hydrogen peroxide or Listerine mouthwash greatly reduces (i.e., 85 percent) bacterial load. 

Microwaving or putting toothbrushes in the dishwasher is not recommended as such high heat may damage the brush. Toothbrush sanitizer devices are available. Patients should look for a device that has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). ADA Tooth Brushes

Ultraviolet (UV) light is one of the most common ways to disinfect a toothbrush. Typically, the brush head is stored in a small plastic container, which aims UV light at it for 6 to 8 minutes before and after brushing.

New products like ZSTCO UV Light Sanitizer, UV Cleaner Intimate, iWings Portable UV Light Sterilizer Tool with Ultraviolet Light and Ozone for Baby Pacifier, Makeup Brushes, Toothbrush, Tableware, Makeup Brush(2pcs) recommended here at MyWaterEarth&Sky through Amazon-check here for info and price

Effervescent disinfecting tablets can also be used to sanitize toothbrushes; water and the tablet combine to create bubbles that sanitize the toothbrush as it soaks (about 10 minutes).


How to Store Your Toothbrush


  • Rinse the toothbrush thoroughly with water after brushing your teeth.
  • Store the brush upright so it can air-dry between uses. If more than one brush is stored in the same holder or area, the brushes need seperation and shouldn’t touch each other.
  • Toothbrushes shouldn’t be stored in a cabinet or drawer because dark, moist environments are breeding grounds for bacteria.
  • Check your toothbrush for signs of wear and tear, and replace it more frequently than every three to four months if needed. Children’s toothbrushes often need to be replaced more frequently than adult brushes.

“For the most part, it makes no difference where one stores a toothbrush,” Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., a board-certified infectious disease and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells SELF. That’s because we live in a world full of germs, and that includes your toothbrush—no matter where you keep it. “It is important to remember that [your] toothbrush will never be sterile, [because] whatever environment it is placed in will have microorganisms that will settle upon it,” says Dr. Adalja.

Amesh A. Adaljia

Toilet Aerosol


Most health professionals that I have been reading about on this subject say that Keeping your toothbrush out in the open in your bathroom exposes it to a little something called Toilet Plume,

Toilet plume is a term for what happens when the force of flushing sprays microscopic particles of pee, poop, and whatever else is in the bowl into the air. “‘[This plume] is easily transmitted in a wide range of air space when you flush the toilet,” Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Arizona who has studied toilet plume.

He said that yes when you flush the toilet there is an aerosol made of droplets of water that contains some germs but so does everything else on the planet. Besides, not all germs are pathogens that can cause disease.

After various studies over the last few years researchers have found that it may be possible to get sick from toilet plume, but not inevitable. Even if someone with, say, E. coli uses a toilet before you, you’re not necessarily going to pick up the illness.

You may or you may not.  More studies and experiments will be needed to determine how likely that actually is. As of now, there’s no solid scientific evidence that toilet plume will absolutely make you get some kind of infectious illness from a flush of a toilet bowl.

Researchers liken the Toilet Plume phenomenon to being panicked about walking on Mars and that germs are part of life and the best defense to pathogen bacteria is to keep your bathroom cleaned and disinfected a few times a week.

Jim has over 30 years in  Water/Wastewater & Water Filtration Buisiness in Consulting & Operations. He has written over 300 articles on the Worldwide Water Situation.


Author/Editor, MyWaterEarth&Sky

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