On your way to the garbage can to throw it out, you wonder, is there a more eco-friendly option than this plastic toothbrush, perhaps one that does NOT end up in a landfill for thousands of years?
Well, lucky for you my friend, there is!
Welcome to the wonderful world of bamboo toothbrushes!
By the end of this review, you will know whether or not a bamboo toothbrush is right for you.
Topics explored in this review include:
- Product Overview
- Product Packaging
- Ingredients Deep-dive
- Manufacturer Sustainability Model
- Where to Purchase
The bamboo toothbrushes I will be reviewing are Sprmal Soft Bristle Bamboo Toothbrushes.
They come in a pack of five toothbrushes, each individually packaged.
Now that you know what I am reviewing, let’s get to the good stuff and find out how they perform.
There are three main factors that can make or break a toothbrush. They are:
- Head Size
- Bristle Type
- Handle Comfort
After using these bamboo toothbrushes for two weeks, I will give my opinion on these three criteria, as well as offer some general feedback I have regarding these toothbrushes.
Since I got my whole family involved in this review, their opinions will be included as well.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA):
The size and shape of the brush should
fit your mouth comfortably, allowing you to reach
all areas easily.
I found the bamboo toothbrush did, in fact, fit my mouth comfortably. I honestly didn’t notice a difference between the head size of this toothbrush and a traditional plastic toothbrush.
I had my 10-year-old and 7-year old sons weigh in with their opinion. Keep in mind, the head size on their toothbrushes was the same size as mine, not children’s size.
In true kid fashion, they both had really insightful feedback. Note sarcasm.
Actually, they both said the head size was “great”.
I guess you can take this to mean that the bamboo toothbrush head was comfortable for them to use.
These bamboo toothbrushes are made with soft, nylon bristles.
I personally found them very comfortable to brush with.
They were kind to my gums and my teeth felt clean and smooth after every use.
This is consistent with ADA guidelines, as they recommend the use of soft bristles to minimize gingival abrasion.
My sons’ opinion differed when I asked what they thought of the bristles.
My 10 year old said, “Awesome!” Again, take this to mean they were comfortable on his teeth and gums.
However, my 7-year-old mentioned that sometimes it feels like the bristles don’t get wet after you have put them in water.
This was an interesting observation because I found the same thing happened to me. I just thought maybe I forgot to wet my toothbrush first or didn’t let it run under the tap long enough.
I didn’t find the dry bristles to be annoying or anything, and my son never complained about it, so just something to be aware of.
When I first started using the bamboo toothbrush, it took a day or two to get used to the handle. It wasn’t uncomfortable, just different from my old plastic toothbrush.
I didn’t have any trouble gripping the handle, however, it is a pretty no-frills flat handle, so if you have arthritis or trouble gripping in any capacity, you may find it difficult to grip this handle.
The bamboo handle made these toothbrushes feel nice and light. Not that regular toothbrushes are that heavy, these are just noticeably lighter.
I did notice it wasn’t quite as smooth as a plastic toothbrush, not that I was getting slivers or anything.
One issue I had for about the first four days of use was the bamboo toothbrush irritated the corners of my mouth. The first day was the worst where I thought I was going to have to abandon the test altogether, but I decided to give it a week and see if the irritation persisted or not.
Each day my mouth was less and less irritated until about the fourth day when I could brush my teeth without noticing the corners of my mouth.
I believe this was the result of the bamboo toothbrush handle being a little rougher than a traditional plastic toothbrush. Maybe I have a sensitive mouth, I’m not too sure. Just something to be aware of if you purchase these bamboo toothbrushes.
Both of my sons loved the handle. They did not offer any further input.
- good head size
- soft bristles cleaned teeth well
- light toothbrush
- comfortable to grip
- rougher feeling handle
- temporary mouth discomfort
- the thin handle may make for difficult gripping if you have preexisting issues
Bamboo toothbrushes do not require any special treatment. Following the ADA guidelines for cleaning and maintenance should suffice.
Here is a refresher if you want to brush up (get it, like a toothbrush haha) on your toothbrush maintenance facts.
- Rinse your toothbrush with tap water after brushing to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris.
- Store the brush in an upright position if possible and allow it to air dry until using it again.
- If more than one toothbrush is stored in the same holder or area, keep the brushes separated.
- Do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. A moist environment,
such as a closed container, is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms than is the open
- Replace toothbrushes every three to four months. The bristles become frayed and worn
with use and will be less effective at cleaning teeth.
I personally did not change how I store my toothbrush in any way and have not had any issues whatsoever.
That being said, these are bamboo toothbrushes, after all, so you might be wondering,
do bamboo toothbrushes get moldy?
With normal use, and following the general care of a toothbrush listed above, you should NOT have a mold issue with a bamboo toothbrush.
As long as it dries out after use, you should be good to go.
I literally have not changed how I maintained my plastic toothbrush compared with how I am maintaining my bamboo toothbrush and see no sign of mold.
Rest assured, if anything pops up in the future, I will be updating this review!
For simplicity sake, I will divide this section into two categories:
Although it is not mentioned on the package or advertised on Amazon, I believe bamboo toothbrushes are cut from a single bamboo culm in which no adhesives are used.
This is opposed to the use of bamboo fiber, in which adhesives are used to manufacture products.
If you would like more in-depth information on bamboo growing and processing, check out my blog post here.
The box these toothbrushes came in states that they are 100% biodegradable, which is why I believe they are made from a single bamboo culm as opposed to bamboo fibre.
Again, this is just conjecture on my part, as I could not find any hard and fast information about the manufacturing of this particular bamboo toothbrush handle.
These toothbrushes are made with nylon bristles.
Let’s address the elephant in the room.
Nylon is a synthetic material, therefore it is NOT biodegradable, or even recyclable.
I know, this sucks, we buy eco-friendly toothbrushes so we don’t contribute to landfills.
Don’t fret too much, you are contributing much less to your local landfill, a few bristles compared with a whole toothbrush is definitely a step in the right direction.
Anyways, I digress. Let’s get back to the issue at hand.
Why are nylon bristles used for toothbrushes?
Synthetic fibers are used for toothbrush bristles most likely because they are more durable than natural fibres.
This is why in 1938, the first nylon-bristled toothbrush went on the market, replacing natural animal bristles.
Probably back then, recycling and the environment were not as important as innovation and longer-lasting products.
One reason that most toothbrush manufacturers today continue to use nylon bristles is that the ADA recommends we change our toothbrush every 3-4 months, assuming it is made with nylon bristles.
Manufacturers want to be competitive. If we as consumers had to change our toothbrush before the recommended timeframe, it could be perceived that we are getting a bad deal on our choice of toothbrush and we may not choose to purchase that brand or type again.
natural vs nylon bristles
Below is a list of advantages and disadvantages of both nylon and natural fibres as they relate to toothbrush bristles.
This is not comprehensive by any means, just a way to shine some light on properties that make or break a good toothbrush bristle.
- more sensitive to sunlight, oils, and moisture (because they are biodegradable)
- susceptible to larval insect infestation
- less water and stain resistant than nylon fibres
In order to get a foothold in the industry, they need to provide a product that is comparable to a conventional toothbrush. Yes, eco-friendly conscious consumers will most likely buy a product that does not work as well as conventional if it is better for the environment. However, mainstream consumers probably won’t. They are not going to buy an inferior product that is possibly more expensive than a conventional one which lasts longer.
Of course I hope in the future bamboo toothbrushes are considered mainstream and more people use them and WANT natural bristles, but until then I can understand why the majority of them are made with nylon bristles instead.
This is the juicy part! Where we find out if what they say on the label is actually true.
Let’s get to it!
I will have to assume they are referring to the bamboo handle and not the bristles for this claim, although it is not specified on the package.
The Amazon product description for these Sprmal bamboo toothbrushes states that they are made from 100% organic bamboo. Since I could not find out any additional information about the manufacturing of Sprmal toothbrushes, I will have to trust that this claim is true.
Although, do take this organic claim with a grain of salt as there is NO independent certification indicated on the package.
Biodegradable Bamboo Handle
Bamboo is biodegradable, so this claim is true.
BPA Free Nylon Bristles
Again, we will have to trust that this claim is true since I was unable to find any additional information about the manufacturing of these toothbrushes.
Box Made From Recycled Material
Yes, both the outer box that contained all 5 toothbrushes and the individual toothbrush boxes are cardboard and are therefore recyclable.
Well, this claim isn’t quite true, as we know.
Yes, the package is recyclable.
Yes, the handle is biodegradable.
But what about those pesky nylon bristles?
They end up in the trash.
So this claim is about 2/3 true and 1/3 false.
This is a claim that does not hold a whole lot of value in my opinion, no matter what product is being advertised.
There is no governing body that regulates what ‘all natural’ entails. A manufacturer can stick it on literally any product without repercussions.
For the sake of this review, we already know this claim is false since the nylon bristles are NOT natural, as nylon is a synthetic fiber.
Although you can order these toothbrushes with charcoal bristles, I did not.
Sprmal probably uses the same box for both charcoal and non-charcoal bristles.
In this circumstance, the claim is false.
Assuming these toothbrushes are not tested on animals or use animal products in their manufacturing process, this claim is true.
Let’s look at the handle and bristles separately since they are made from different materials.
Bamboo is known to have antibacterial properties, however ,it isn’t scientifically proven to be able to actually kill bacteria. Take this claim with a grain of salt.
Interestingly enough, I happened upon a study that evaluated the bacterial contamination and antimicrobial efficacy of charcoal bristles compared to non-charcoal bristles in used toothbrushes.
The conclusion of this study was definitely eye-opening, where the charcoal bristles DID, in fact, have antimicrobial properties compared to its non-charcoal counterparts.
Although the bamboo toothbrushes that I reviewed were not charcoal, they do have a charcoal option. Had I known this tidbit of information, I probably would have ordered the charcoal bristles instead.
This claim is true when referring to charcoal bristles, not straight-up nylon bristles.
As a side note, the study was a good reminder to store your toothbrushes as far away from the toilet as possible, as most toothbrushes are contaminated with some amount of fecal matter. Gross.
manufacturer sustainability model
If you have read my recent reusable straw reviews, you will know that I have struggled with this area of my evaluation.
Let me explain.
I haphazardly ordered these bamboo toothbrushes along with few different types of reusable straws without doing my due diligence to make sure I was ordering from a truly eco-friendly company.
I could not find any information on Sprmal, the manufacturer of these toothbrushes.
Again, I apologize. Since I could not find out any information, I will assume that Sprmal does not have a sustainability model in place for the manufacturing of its products.
I have found that I do not need to do anything different with the bamboo toothbrush than I did with my old plastic toothbrush.
I simply brush my teeth, place the toothbrush back into the holder and let it air dry until the next use.
These bamboo toothbrushes are equally as convenient as their plastic counterparts, in my opinion.
where to purchase
The easiest and most convenient way to purchase these bamboo toothbrushes is through Amazon, of course!
Here are a couple of links, if you have liked what you have read so far.
For My Canadian Friends
For My American Friends
The price of these bamboo toothbrushes at the time of this review is pretty reasonable in my opinion.
For my American friends, the price is $8.98 for a pack of five.
That’s just $1.80 per toothbrush. That’s an awesome deal! You can hardly go out to Walmart and find a toothbrush cheaper than that.
For my Canadian friends, the price is currently just $7.99 for a pack of five toothbrushes. Holy cow! It’s not very often that Canadian prices are cheaper than American prices.
That works out to be only $1.60 per toothbrush. WOW! That’s a fantastic deal!
It is pretty clear by these prices that bamboo toothbrushes are not more expensive than conventional plastic ones. It’s worth it to give them a try.
So, it’s 3-4 months since you started using your bamboo toothbrush, and it’s time to scrap it and replace it with a new one. You might be wondering,
can bamboo toothbrushes be composted?
The bamboo toothbrush handle can absolutely be composted. However, you do need to remove the bristles with pliers first. Unfortunately, the bristles are not compostable and are disposed of in the garbage can.
The handles can be composted at home in your own compost heap, or in a commercial composting bin.
You may also be wondering about the bristles you just removed.
can bamboo toothbrushes be recycled?
Generally speaking, the bristles cannot be recycled as they are too small and light, they would be lost at the recycling plant and end up in the landfill anyway.
Alternatively, you can reuse your spent bamboo toothbrush around the house before its final resting place in the compost heap.
Want some inspiration?
Here are a couple of ideas:
- using it as a cleaning brush- great for scrubbing sinks and bathtubs (Pro-tip: write cleaning on the label so no one mistakes it for their current toothbrush!)
- using the handle as a garden stake to mark your plants, unique and environmentally friendly
More creative people than I can probably come up with more options on how to reuse bamboo toothbrushes, but these should get you started in any case.
You are still interested in replacing your plastic toothbrush with an eco-friendly alternative but may not be convinced bamboo it the right choice for you.
Lucky for you, there are other eco-friendly materials available.
- Compostable bioplastic: From a company called Bogobrush, these toothbrushes are made with leftover plant materials from American farms.
- Aluminum: Recycled aluminum toothbrushes by The Goodwell Company are guaranteed for life.
- Wood: For a more disposable option, made by Naturborsten, you can compost these toothbrushes or they can be thrown into a fire after an awesome week of camping if you so choose.
We hit a bump in the road for the first few days with my mouth irritation, but after working through that, I have really enjoyed using a bamboo toothbrush.
My kids also really like these toothbrushes. I will be ordering them their own kid-sized ones now that I know how great they are.
It is a really nice feeling to know that I will not be contributing to our ever-growing landfill problem.
Ok, I know the bristles will end up in a garbage bag at the landfill, but minuscule bristles compared with a whole toothbrush is definitely an improvement.
I also love that these do not require any extra maintenance than a plastic toothbrush. I mean, who has the time for special treatment of a toothbrush? I am lucky to find the time just to brush my teeth on most days!
So if you’re on the fence about whether or not to try a bamboo toothbrush, I recommend trying one. They are relatively the same price as plastic toothbrushes, so price shouldn’t be a factor.
Remember, small steps taken at home can have HUGE effects on our environment.
Let’s be the change we want to see,
Change starts with you and me.
Have you tried bamboo toothbrushes? What about another type eco-friendly toothbrush? Let me know your opinions, I love to hear from you!