Along with plastic utensils, bottles, packaging and other seemingly “disposable” everyday items, toothbrushes are just one more non-biodegradable article that adds to our oversized environmental footprint. As soon as our frilly friends start to look a little sad, we chuck them into the waste bin without a second glance, sending them to an eternity of landfill limbo. Granted, a world without toothbrushes would indeed be an ugly one (for entirely different reasons), but there must be something better than the chunky plastic monstrosities that line drugstore shelves around the country.
Enter wooden toothbrushes. Carried wherever cute, eco-conscious housewares are sold, wooden toothbrushes from brands like Izola offer a wonderfully earth-friendly alternative to the standard drugstore kind. They’re just as effective but biodegradable and light-years more attractive.
Unfortunately, the very material that makes these guys such an eco-friendly catch might also be their downfall. Their absorbent, porous wood handles make these toothbrushes perfect targets for the water and grime that lurk deep within toothbrush holders and bathroom cups. As I reached for my handy wooden toothbrush a few days into its use, I realized that, to my horror, its bottom was entirely soaked with whatever toothpaste/spit/bacteria-laden concoction lay on the floor of its holder. And just like that, my love affair with the wooden toothbrush was killed.
That is, until I discovered Plasti-Dip! This miraculous craft material, featured a few months back on another D*S DIY, is great for covering tools with a sturdy coat of rubber, but it’s also perfect for adding a watertight, non-absorbent base to my wooden toothbrushes. Huzzah! Problem solved!
Creating your own rubber-tipped toothbrush is remarkably simple. Just follow the steps below and you, too, will be on your way to happier, healthier and more eco-friendly teeth! — Max
*UPDATE: The plastic coating on these brushes can easily be removed in one clean piece (just stick something sharp under an edge to get it started) when you’re ready to toss your toothbrush, allowing the toothbrush to still biodegrade naturally.
- 1 can of Plasti-Dip “Create Your Own Color.” This kit comes with a can of Plasti-Dip and five pigments. These can be purchased online or at most home improvement stores.
- 1 or more wooden toothbrushes. Most come in packages of 4. We used Izola’s Numerals Toothbrushes.
- A thin paper cup for dipping.
- A wooden skewer, toothpick, spoon or other implement to stir the pigments.
- Another cup for holding the toothbrushes while they dry.
1. Lay down some newspapers on a table in a well-ventilated area and set your supplies out. The task isn’t very messy, but better safe than sorry!
2. After choosing which colors you would like to mix, open your Plasti-Dip can and pour a small amount (up to the point you will be dipping your toothbrush) into your paper cup. Be sure to put the cap back on your Plasti-Dip can immediately to avoid excess thickening or drying.
3. Add your pigment (or pigments if you are mixing) to your paper cup. Only a few drops are necessary for a nice, rich color, but more or less can be added for different results. Mix thoroughly with your spoon, trying to avoid too many air bubbles.
4. Place your toothbrush (handle side down, of course) straight down into your mixture. Hold for about a second and lift slowly until it resurfaces. Allow any excess paint to drip off.
5. Holding your toothbrush near its head, bring it to a horizontal level and twist it around slowly, almost as if on a rotisserie. Continue this motion for about a minute, or until the rubber seems sufficiently solidified. This will help you avoid uneven distribution of the rubber and any unsightly “nipples” on the brush’s tip.
6. Place your toothbrush upside down in a short cup. Allow to dry for at least four hours before handling.
7. Throw away any excess Plasti-Dip. And presto! A functional — and beautiful — wooden toothbrush!
NOTE: While Plasti-Dip is safe to handle in its dried state, please use caution when handling it wet. Do not allow Plasti-Dip to contact any area of the toothbrush that will be used in the mouth, and refrain from chewing or ingesting the material once it is dried. For those leery of Plasti-Dip’s ventilation requirements, wooden toothbrushes can also be waterproofed with everyday materials like acrylic paint or nail polish.