"Brush up" on the latest travel advice

Health & Hygiene
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BBC Breakfast showed how contaminated your hotel room could be, but how should you protect your toothbrush? Dental Review reports on Steripod

Research reported on BBC Breakfast on 9 January 2017 revealed that your hotel room may be a hot-bed of bacterial contamination. The bathroom in particular was cited as a major problem area, because not only is the toilet area likely to be riddled with infection, but door handles and surfaces around the sink are equally dirty. It seems hotel housekeepers are using the same cloths for multiple surfaces.

It gets worse. A twitter response to the programme revealed that the threat is compounded because not only are housekeepers leaving the rooms dirty, they have also been caught using guests’ products, including their toothbrushes!

Liz Smith-Mills of the British Institute of Cleaning, who was featured on the programme, reported that even 5 star hotels can be worryingly unclean because management are cutting down the time staff can spend cleaning each room.

Smith-Mills suggested that some people might want to bring their own surface cleaner with them when they travel, although she admitted that might be a little extreme, whereas her Steripod toothbrush protector she considered a necessity – something she always uses.

She said: “I always like to keep my toothbrush covered as one never knows what is coming out of the toilet when you’re flushing and you can never really know what’s on the bathroom surfaces”.

The Steripod creates a protective and sterilising guard around a toothbrush. It simply clips onto the head of any toothbrush, manual or electric, creating a protective ‘pod’ which physically surrounds the head and shields it from both airborne and cross contamination.

Toothbrush contamination

The research in the programme concurs with a recent study at the University of Manchester which showed that there are more than ten million bacteria on your toothbrush right now. That means there are considerably more bacteria on your toothbrush than your average toilet seat - which has 50 bacteria per square inch[1], or average public lavatory floor - which has two million bacteria per square inch[2].

Most people don’t realise that every time they flush the toilet an aerosol spray of tainted water is released with droplets able to land as far as 10 feet away. Researchers from the University of Alabama found that the bristles of toothbrushes stored in the bathroom (in other words all of them) are contaminated with faecal matter – and toothbrushes aren’t particular about whose faecal matter it is, so it’s likely it won’t just be your own that’s going into your mouth every time you clean your teeth.

The average toothbrush is exposed to vast numbers of invisible contaminants during the time it is use, including a high proportion of pathogenic nasties such as E.coli and staphylococcal. And airborne bacteria are not the only pollutants to visit your toothbrush. If it touches another brush, germs and bacteria can pass from surface to surface, spreading the likes of oral herpes (cold sores), candida (oral thrush) and the HPV virus.

Protect your toothbrush at home and abroad

The Steripod device is designed protect against environmental contamination, keeping your toothbrush clean and smelling fresh for up to three months thanks to a patented design that creates what the manufacturers call “active vapours” – thanks to a laboratory formulated thymol compound. Thymol is used in many mouthwashes and oral antiseptics.

The compound is encapsulated in plastic with small holes which allows the thymol vapours to escape and protectively encircle the toothbrush bristles. The product has been specially designed so that air can circulate freely which means your toothbrush dries naturally – contaminants require a moist atmosphere to multiply most effectively, so the drier your brush, the lower the risk of bugs on your bristles. Steripod needs no batteries or cables, so it’s easy to protect your brush wherever it is; at home, on holiday, or out and about. So follow a few simple rules and you can be confident the only thing your toothbrush puts in your mouth is toothpaste: 

• Never place your toothbrush on the bathroom counter or shelf; remember, busy housekeepers often use the same cloths to wipe down multiple surfaces
• Keep anything that goes in your mouth (or on your face) in your travel bag
• Hide your toothbrush if you are concerned that the housekeeper may use it
• Flush the toilet with the seat lid down
• Plus, of course, use a Steripod

A pack of two Steripod costs £4.99. For more information visit www.steripod.co.uk