Best Bamboo Toothbrushes for a Happy Mouth & Happy Planet
Most of us know by now that plastic toothbrushes are terrible for the environment. They can end up in the ocean, and release toxic chemicals as they decompose in landfills. Many people are switching over to bamboo toothbrushes, which provide the same cleaning power just with way healthier materials. We tested some brand to give you a better idea of what to watch out for.
Millions of plastic toothbrushes are floating in our bodies of water. Marine creatures accidentally eat them and that’s not all. National Geographic reported that micro-plastics were discovered in 90% of the table salts.
Plastic used for regular toothbrushes is made from synthetic substances. These are a combination of plastic, rubber, and crude oil. Not to mention the batteries from electric toothbrushes. Meaning, it’s not natural, it’s bad for our health, and bad for our planet.
So, switching over to a more sustainable toothbrush is the way to go.
Let’s start with the basics before we dive into our personal recommendations
Are bamboo toothbrushes really eco-friendly?
This is a big question. If you have done research about bamboo toothbrushes before, you may have come across multiple opinions. Manufacturers, of course, say that they are the most eco-friendly way of brushing your teeth. Some other websites look at it more skeptical. So do we. We are not super crazy but we do question some sustainability factors of bamboo toothbrushes. But we will get into this in a second.
The major reason why these products are seen as eco-friendly is the handle, which is made of bamboo. Bamboo plants are a sustainable resource in general. These grasses don’t contribute to massive deforestation. They don’t even need harmful chemicals because they are naturally resistant against mold, fungus, and bacteria. This means that it is perfect for the mouth hygiene. Bamboo is also biodegradable. So, you can compost it or simply recycle it before in order to get the most out of this product. Bamboo plants grow way faster than trees because it belongs to the grasses and it produces more oxygen which is amazing too.However, two factors are concerning about these bamboo toothbrushes:
- Where bamboo grows: These plants mainly grow in Asia. This means that the labor of harvesting them and the shipping still doesn’t quite fit into the “sustainable section” of manufacturing. Often you cannot find proper information on how the bamboo that is used for the toothbrushes has been harvested etc. Therefore, it’s hard to say whether or not they are eco-friendly. In addition to that, bamboo products have to be shipped all over the world which is not exactly eco-friendly either.
- The bristles: They are not always as eco-friendly as you may think and that’s a problem because of what humans are used to brush their teeth with.
The big debate about the bristles
This is seriously the biggest debate about bamboo toothbrushes. If you simply look on Amazon, you will see that sooooooooo many products are claimed to be 100% bamboo. They clearly round up. You have no clue how hard it was for me to find something without plastic bristles. Well, maybe you know and that’s why you are here. In the manufacturer’s mind, the 4% that make the bristles of the whole product don’t count to the whole item. Well, I don’t know about you but I cannot brush my teeth with a wooden-like piece. I need bristles. So, basically the feature that makes a toothbrush a toothbrush is solely neglected in the “sustainability count”. You are buying a 96% bamboo toothbrush and the rest is whatever they want. Often it will be Nylon or some sort of mix with Nylon. It was tough to find ONE bamboo toothbrush that hasn’t got this type of plastic in the bristles.
On the other hand, it’s apparently pretty difficult to produce eco-friendly bristles. The biggest factor is the longevity that we are all used to. Tests have been made and often results weren’t positive. Bristles fell out, they bent too much after the first use, they were too soft, etc. It appears to be quite challenging for the manufacturers who really want to make a difference (not the ones that simply jump on the wagon).
How often should I change my bamboo toothbrush?
Dentists usually recommend changing the toothbrush every 3 months because of hygienic reasons. I would always apply that to bamboo toothbrushes as well.
They CAN actually last longer if you really want them to. It’s not that they get gross quicker than a plastic toothbrush.
However, changing toothbrushes depends on your way of brushing, how much you rinse them, how often you actually brush your teeth, and the personal “grossness factor”.
Clinical studies prove that a brand-new toothbrush can eliminate more plaque than a worn out one and that’s probably why they came up with this 3-month rule.
Bamboo has antimicrobial properties, but still, the bristles aren’t made of bamboo and could hold some bacteria. Therefore, it is always a good idea to change your toothbrush every three months and after you got sick.
The performance of the brush drops as the bristles become frayed. It won’t be able to clean your teeth thoroughly.
Toothbrush bristles don’t eliminate bacteria in our mouth. They can actually move over to those bristles. Some viruses and bacteria may remain on your brush which may spread to other household members. This can happen if your toothbrush is stored in one place with other brushes.
Children brush their teeth more forcefully than adults which frays the bristles quicker. They also may drop it somewhere on the ground and get it dirty. So you may need to change their toothbrush more often.
An average person uses more or less four toothbrushes per year. Not to mention those who are traveling or those who keep another set of toothbrush in their school or office. It is always best to have an extra one anyways.
Are bamboo toothbrushes effective?
Bamboo toothbrushes are created to be just as effective as plastic toothbrushes. That’s why the bristles are such a big problem. It will also last like a regular toothbrush. The difference is that the handle is made from a sustainable and eco-friendly material.
One downside is the lack of a tongue cleaner. I know that my husband really likes that on plastic toothbrushes and he was kinda upset about not having it. However, he got used to brushing his tongue instead of using the backside of a toothbrush.
Another thing that I had to get used to is the “bulkiness”. Because of the material, the head of these bamboo toothbrushes is larger than plastic ones. This affects the cleaning of the molars. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not impossible to brush them thoroughly but it’s a wee bit harder than with a regular toothbrush. If you usually have issues with it, you could think about getting a kids-sized bamboo toothbrush and see how it goes.
Proper care for your bamboo toothbrush
- Rinse your toothbrush after using just like your regular one.
- Don’t worry about the top part fading. This is quite normal with toothpaste and chalk from the water getting stuck on it. It shouldn’t affect your brushing habit, nor is it unclean.
- It is best when stored dry or in the open air. Do not let it sit in liquid. It will eventually expand because it is porous.
- Put it upright in a clean glass, holder, or container.
- Enclosed caps are not recommended for bamboo toothbrushes.
- Do not brush too hard. Brushing gently can still remove plaque. This will also lengthen the lifespan of your bristles.
- Do not place it near your toilet for hygienic purposes but you shouldn’t do this with other toothbrushes either.
Best bamboo toothbrushes - Our top picks
Ok, it’s time to talk about our recommendations. That’s what you are here for after all.
I tested different bamboo toothbrushes with my husband. I will give you a quick overview of the specs and then go into detail on each one. Like I said earlier, the initial picking of these brands wasn’t easy because a lot of the available bamboo toothbrushes have Nylon bristles and I tried to avoid those. However, my first one was the Humble Brush with Nylon bristles and it was a really good one, except for not being fully environment-friendly.
|Humble Brush||Truly Eco-Friendly||Brush With Bamboo|
|Certified||FDA approved, Vegan, Cruelty-free, Certified Organic, FSC||Vegan (inofficial), Nylon-free, 100% Eco-Friendly (inofficial), BPA-free||FDA registered, Vegan, USDA Certified Biobased Product (95%), Certified 100% Organic Bamboo (CERES), Green America Certified Business|
|Made in||Asia (various)||China||USA, China|
|Bristles||Nylon-6, BPA-free||Activated charcoal, bamboo fiber, and Bio-Pet (Food Based starches)||68% Castor Bean Oil, 38% Nylon (BPA-free)|
|Smooth Handle?||Yes||Very smooth||Yes|
|Longevity||3+ months||Around 60 days||3+ months|
|Packaging||Recyclable box||Recyclable box||Biodegradable box (100% paper), got rid of additional wrappers in March 2019|
|Social Projects||Every sale gives a portion to their Humble project (education, distribution of dental care products, etc.)||Each purchase goes toward educating the youth on sustainability and green living||n/a|
|Price for 4 Pack||$$||$||$$|
|Link to Product||Check for the pricing!||Check for the pricing!||Check for the pricing!|
Humble Brush - with Nylon-6
This bamboo toothbrush is sold widely. The company is based in Sweden and they do a good portion to educate and give away dental care products to people who can’t afford it. That’s something I really like about this product. However, they are using Nylon-6 bristles, which aren’t decomposing. They are just like other small plastic pieces from other products. They say it is biodegradable but I found other sources that prove the opposite (for example this). But at least, they are labeling the material properly unlike other brands.
So, there you have your pro and con already.
For the toothbrush itself, the handle felt very smooth. There were no rough edges and no splinters. The bristles obviously hold the whole time. No fraying, no falling out. I probably could have used it more than 3 months but I don’t like to keep a toothbrush for too long. They have a wave-like cut if you look at them from the side. This is supposed to help cleaning the teeth better while massaging the gum gently.
The Humble Brush is available in different sizes and different colors (bristles). This is great for families so that you can tell them apart.
The packaging is very sturdy and not biodegradable but recyclable.
All in all, I liked the brush a lot despite the fact of the bristles. However, it is my least favorite out of all of these, simply because of the bristles and packaging. Regarding the use, it is one of my favorites and that’s why it is still in here.
Truly Eco-Friendly - Biodegradable
When I unpacked the bamboo toothbrush from Truly Eco-Friendly, I instantly said that I want to try this one first. The bristles just looked amazing and I was hoping that this is going to be the best one.
Then I brushed with it the first time and wasn’t that impressed. The bristles are very soft and it took me a bit to get used to it. Note: I used normal Nylon bristles just before this one. So, I am used to a bit harder bristles. After a couple of days, I thought it was just normal and I really like the toothbrush now.
The bristles are made of activated charcoal, bamboo fiber, and Bio-Pet (Food Based starches), according to their information. They are all one length, unlike the previous toothbrush. The tips of the bristles look very fine and they stay like this the whole time. I didn’t experience any fraying or loss. The photo above may not do justice of this but I had the toothbrushes squeezed into a backpack for a couple of weeks. If I had put them in a travel case or in my bathroom bag it probably wouldn’t have happened. At least, it didn’t happen to the one I was already using at that moment.
The handle is very smooth and didn’t splinter. In fact, out of all this one has the smoothest handle.
The head is rather oval, which makes it less bulky.
No color separation so you have to write names on it or mark them yourself.
Packaging is not biodegradable, just recyclable (please change this, dear Truly Eco-Friendly!).
This one is great for reaching the molars and lays great in the hand. The softness of the bristles doesn’t bother me too much but the packaging does.
Brush with Bamboo - The mix
I was so excited about ordering these because I thought it was 100% bamboo and, therefore, fully biodegradable. However, they offer a mix of 62% castor bean oil and 38% nylon. What I do like, though, is that they are honest and straightforward. They say that they are trying to find a way to have a 100% biodegradable toothbrush ready but the bristle technology is not there yet.
The bristles while not fully biodegradable are firm and thoroughly clean your teeth while just soft enough to massage your gums lightly. A common worry about new toothbrushes is how quickly they start to fall apart. After all, what’s the point of using a biodegradable handle if you have to replace the toothbrush every week. After 1 month of use this toothbrush is going strong. The bristles are trimmed in a wave like the Humble Brush.
The Brush with Bamboo handle is mostly smooth with a little bit of roughness. Not so rough that it has a chance for splinters but rough enough to know you are handling something wood-like.
This one actually has a biodegradable box. You can compost the packaging completely now. When I bought these toothbrushes they still came in a somewhat plastic-feeling wrapper. However, they got rid of this wrapper in March 2019. So now, it’s only the bristles that are not compostable.
This is still my favorites – from a usage, material, and company point of view.
I Don't Recommend: GoWoo - with Nylon-4
EDIT: I did recommend it at first but after a few weeks, it felt like the bristles are too soft to clean teeth properly. Although you’re not supposed to use hard bristles, there is a certain level of firmness you need for brushing of all the nasty stuff. So, I stopped using it and don’t recommend it anymore.
The GoWoo toothbrush has a different handle design than all of the other products. It definitely sticks out with that. Usually they are all angular but this one is round. This is not really an advantage, though, because the grip is not good this way. It kinda turns around if you don’t hold it properly. It also uses a color coat at the bottom (not sure what paint this is made of). This way you can separate them better if you have more people using the same bathroom.
According to their description, they are using Nylon-4 for the bristles. This material is reported to decompose in compost or sewage which gives it an advantage to Nylon-6 (read more about this here). The material is very very soft. Softer than all others.
The head is a bit smaller and slimmer than the others, which is great for brushing the molars.
I will update this info as soon as I have used this one 2-3 months. So far I’ve been brushing with it for a couple of weeks only.
The packaging is biodegradable once you removed the product sticker. It’s a simple carton box which is folded (no glue).
This one is really great if you are looking for an eco-friendly and soft bamboo toothbrush with a smaller head.