Why You Should Make the Switch to Hygienic Silicone Toilet Brushes

updated Mar 27, 2024
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Credit: Cat Meschia/Kitchn

Ready to ditch your toilet brush? Sleek, new silicone brush options don’t just look cooler than plastic-bristle brushes — they also promise an easier-to-clean and more germ-free experience. But do they live up to the hype? Good news: Microbiologists agree that silicone brushes not only seem less gross than their plastic-bristled counterparts; they are actually more sanitary (and generally, a better buy) for a couple of reasons.

Silicone attracts fewer germs.

Jeremiah Johnson, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, says that silicone attracts fewer microorganisms (read: bad bacteria, including E. coli) than plastic because silicone is non-porous and resists the accumulation of organic matter from the toilet, which can attract germs.

“For this reason alone, silicone would be more resistant to microbial contamination,” Johnson says. “That’s why it’s is being used more frequently in medical applications.” Another plus: Because silicone dries much faster than plastic, it’s also less likely to accumulate microbes. 

Silicone is easier to clean.

Silicone can also be more easily and thoroughly cleaned than plastic-bristled brushes, Johnson says, which obviously results in a more sanitary bathroom environment. For example, most silicones can be put in the dishwasher and even boiled (assuming the handle and other portions of the brush allow).

“This would reduce the number of microorganisms present even further and is something you could not likely do with a traditional brush since plastics are particularly sensitive to chemicals and physical stress,” he says. 

Silicone is more robust.

Since silicone is generally resistant to more physical stress, including chemical cleaners and UV light, you could use stronger cleaners that would be more likely to kill harmful microorganisms present on the brush.

You’ll also probably get a longer life out of a silicone brush than you would a traditional one because of these properties, which means making the switch is probably worth it (especially since silicone brushes tend to be a bit pricier compared to plastic ones).

Silicone does have one downside.

The only negative Johnson could find to silicone brushes is an environmental one: Silicone doesn’t easily break down in the environment, and most curbside recycling programs do not accept post-consumer silicone-based products. That means when you’re through with your silicone toilet brush, you will either need to take it to the landfill or find a specialized recycling facility on your own.

Hopefully, though, you’ll find your silicone brush lasts so long that getting rid of it isn’t an issue at all. If you don’t know where to start, get the Joseph Joseph Flex Toilet Brush. It’s under $20 and has thousands of reviews online. It has a flexible, D-shaped head and slim holder. You could also get this cheaper one for around $10.