We brush our teeth morning and night to remove the damaging plaque and bacteria that builds up in our mouths.
But where does this bacteria go?
Some of it gets spat out amongst our toothpaste when you finish brushing, but much of it gets caught up on and within the bristles of our toothbrushes.
Got you thinking haven’t I?
It is not all that surprising when you think about it, it’s the tool we use to actually clean the teeth after all.
You probably know that there are such a thing as good and bad bacteria and either, in the right conditions, can multiply.
It is, therefore, logical to expect there to be a growing number of bad bacteria on our toothbrushes each time we brush our teeth.
Thankfully there are products out there that can help; UV sanitizers.
A few minutes of exposure to UV light can kill those harmful bacteria.
Make use of a sanitizer and you will know each time you brush, you will be brushing with a cleaner toothbrush.
Pursonic S1 Portable UV Toothbrush Sanitizer
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Violife Travel Safe UV Toothbrush Sanitizer
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Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected with UV Sanitizer
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Philips Sonicare UV Sanitizer HX7990/02
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Violife Zapi Luxe UV Sanitizer
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Our Top 5 Choices for Best Toothbrush Sanitizer
Having tested several different sanitizers, check out my recommendations below for the best available today.
1. Pursonic S1 Portable UV Toothbrush Sanitizer
Simple and easy to use, this toothbrush sanitizer from Pursonic works like a charm.
Powered by 2 x AA batteries (not supplied), the UV light sanitization process begins as soon as you close the lid of the case.
You can view it here on Amazon.
|Pursonic S1 Portable UV Toothbrush Sanitizer||377 Reviews||$19.99 $10.71||View on Amazon|
The sanitization process runs for 5 minutes, killing 99.9% of germs, at which point the UV light is automatically switched off.
It is really easy to tell whether the cleaning process is in progress as through the lid of the case you can see a green LED. When lit, the UV light is on. If the green light goes out, then that is the clean complete.
The sanitizer is actually fairly slim, just a fraction longer than the average toothbrush and just over twice as wide, or to be more precise 8.6” x 2.1” and weighs 4.7oz with the batteries.
Although not designed primarily as a travel case for your toothbrush, you could use it as such.
The case is made from plastic. The base is a gloss white color, and it is on the underside that the batteries fit.
The lid/top of the case has a rougher texture which helps with grip and is more of a sea blue color, with a white panel on the lid that has the Pursonic logo on it.
Overall the case feels robust enough but does not feel quite as solid as some other options.
Inside the sanitizer you can fit a regular manual toothbrush or you can fit the brush heads from electric toothbrushes.
A very neat touch, which you don’t appreciate until you use it is inside is a little rubber grip that holds the brush in place, but it can be moved to 1 of 3 different positions to make for a better fit for your toothbrush.
All of this and it is one of the cheapest options available.
- Good value
- Automatically turns on and off
- Powered by 2 x AA batteries
- Adjustable rubber grip to hold brush in place
- Takes manual brushes as well as electric toothbrush heads
- Green LED to show when on or off
- Plastic construction is ok, but not the best
2. Violife Travel Safe UV Toothbrush Sanitizer
Violife make several different UV sanitizers.
Very similar to the Pursonic that takes the number 1 spot, this is very similarly sized, but feels a little cheaper, despite being a bit more expensive to buy. You do get a free manual toothbrush included though.
|Violife TRavel Safe UV Toothbrush Sanitizer||271 Reviews||View on Amazon|
Weighing in at 5.3oz including the batteries, it measures approximately 8.6” x 2.1”, but feels larger due to the curved design and sharper corners.
Take a look at it from one end and you will see the case is oval shaped.
On the base are 2 moldings that stop the case from rocking when on a countertop.
Powered by 2 x AA batteries (not supplied), it automatically powers on when the lid of the case is closed and turns off automatically after 6 minutes.
Available in a turquoise or silver color the lid is accented with a fairly large blue Violife logo.
A clear panel on the lid makes it much easier to see the UV light and is your way of clearly seeing whether the sanitizing cycles is still running or not.
There is a small drip tray inside which catches excess moisture and can be removed for cleaning. I get why it’s there, but seems a bit unnecessary.
There is also a rubber grip that holds a manual toothbrush or the heads of electric toothbrushes in place, but it is not adjustable, so some brushes might well be a little more awkward to fit in correctly.
Hinging on the longer edge there is a nice degree of movement, but the plastic lid is a little harder to open in the first place and the whole unit feels a little more creaky when handled.
Here is a video showing it in use.
- Automatic power on and off
- Powered by 2 x AA batteries
- The clear panel makes it easy to see if UV light is on or not
- 2 color options
- Rubber grip to hold the brush in place
- Takes manual brushes as well as electric toothbrush heads
- Comes supplied with a toothbrush
- Plastic feels a bit creaky
- A lid is harder to open
- Can’t see the point of the drip tray
- More expensive option
3. Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected with UV Sanitizer
So this is more of an all in 1 combination product and is not a UV sanitizer on its own.
This is a premium electric toothbrush with UV sanitizer.
|Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected with UV Sanitizer||384 Reviews||View on Amazon|
You can view it here on the Philips site, and we’ve listed a few different retailers that sell it below.
If you are currently using a manual brush or even a basic electric toothbrush, it might well be time to upgrade.
From a toothbrush perspective, this cleans really well.
You get 3 cleaning modes, a built-in timer, pacer, and a battery life of up to 19 days.
The toothbrush even has Bluetooth connectivity, which means you can pair it with your smartphone and track how well you clean your teeth and take note of the educational tips it provides to do a better job.
It is a much more expensive option with a UV sanitizer included in the box.
It requires mains power and cannot run off batteries.
Sonicare electric toothbrush heads fit best, but other electric toothbrush heads will fit, 2 at a time can be positioned inside. Manual toothbrushes cannot be placed inside.
It is quite bulky and is not portable because of its size and the need for mains power.
The sanitizer runs for 10 minutes once powered on.
Really well built, this is a solid product from a well known brand.
- Electric toothbrush and UV sanitizer in one
- Holds 2 brush heads at the same time
- Longer cleaning cycle
- Smart toothbrush with Bluetooth connectivity
- Great toothbrush features including timer, pacer, 3 cleaning modes, and great battery life
- A much more expensive option
- Best suited for Sonicare brush heads
- Won’t take a manual toothbrush
- Requires mains power supply
- Not portable
4. Philips Sonicare UV Sanitizer HX7990/02
If you didn’t need the combination of an electric toothbrush and UV sanitizer as listed at number 3, how about being a savvy shopper and buying just the sanitizer on its own.
Bought as an accessory like this, it can be picked up for a very good price.
|Philips Sonicare UV Sanitizer HX7990/02||213 Reviews||View on Amazon|
It holds 2 electric toothbrush heads at any one time.
Sonicare heads fit best, but others will sit in place.
It has not been designed to take a manual toothbrush though.
It can be moved, but it is not geared towards portability due to its size and the fact it is powered by mains power rather than batteries.
Also built-in is a Sonicare charging stand, so existing Sonicare brush users can actually make use of this, charging your brush whilst the brush heads get sanitized.
The benefit is you never need to worry about replacing the batteries and with a 10 minute cycle it really makes sure that bacteria is killed off.
Available in white and black color options, you can pick the one that fits your home best.
Very well made, you get the peace of mind of having a sanitizer made by a leading brand within consumer electronics.
The UV bulb inside is also replaceable.
- Holds 2 electric toothbrush heads at once
- Runs for 10 minutes at a time
- Well built
- Reputable brand
- Replaceable UV bulb
- Can be purchased for a good price
- Not portable
- Requires mains power
- Best suited to Sonicare toothbrushes
- Cannot accept manual toothbrushes
5. Violife Zapi Luxe UV Sanitizer
The 5th and final sanitizer in the list is the Zapi Luxe from Violife.
It has an egg-like shape to it, although a slight flat part on the base does allow it to stand upright.
|Violife Zapi Luxe UV Sanitizer||67 Reviews||View on Amazon|
This has a wobble design, but unless you actually knock it off a surface it will not fall over (I tried, many times).
There is no denying it is one of the more unique looking units and few would really know what it was without some investigation.
It is available in a range of colors, so you can find the one that best fits your style and taste.
A heavy unit at 12.5 oz, although you could technically move this about regularly, you really would not want to.
It is powered by 3 x AAA batteries (not supplied), that fit into the base, by twisting it a ¼ of a turn to reveal the battery compartment.
The toothbrush, be that a manual or even electric is placed upside down into the top of the sanitizer.
Inside to the left side sits the UV light and the brush can be held in place by the rubber clip that holds the brush, on the right side.
The opening seems large enough, but I found the bristles kept sweeping the sides as you try to position it in place and clip it into the holder.
It certainly looks smart, with a button on the front to power it on and off, although it will automatically turn off after the 6 minute cycle.
There is an LED on the power button that will remain lit whilst the UV light is on, turning off when complete.
It is the only 1 of the 5 to actually alert you via a flashing LED when the power in the batteries are low.
You could with all these sanitizers use them as holders/stands for your toothbrush, but it is Violife with the Zapi that specifically call this out as a feature.
The top of the unit does come away to give access inside for cleaning.
It is an expensive unit, a manual brush is included for the price, but you are paying for the design and uniqueness in my opinion.
- Unique design
- Several color options
- Powered by 3 x AAA batteries
- Well built
- Top comes off to clean inside the unit
- Automatic power off
- LED flashes to show when battery power is low
- Fiddly to actually put the toothbrush in
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Our team is a mixture of consumers and dental professionals.
We strive to create honest, informative content, telling you the facts, good or bad.
We are not sponsored by big brands or healthcare companies. Our site is funded by affiliate revenue and ads, but we only recommend products that we have tested and truly believe to be worth your money.
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My recommendations are listed above, but I will be the first to tell you there are lots of different sanitizers on the market and you don’t have to go with the ones I suggest.
All will have their own pros and cons, but the following buyer’s guide should help you pick an ultraviolet light sanitizer that will leave you with a clean toothbrush.
What is a UV sanitizer?
A UV sanitizer is a piece of equipment that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to kill germs and bacteria.
Sanitizers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small pocketable solutions to cleaning toothbrushes and small items, to large countertop units capable of sanitizing much larger items.
How does a UV sanitizer work?
The bulbs within a UV sanitizer emit short-wavelength light to kill or inactivate microorganisms.
Bacteria are a group of single-celled microorganisms that reproduce through cell division.
The light destroys the bonds of nucleic acids (small biomolecules essential to all forms of life) that make up DNA.
It is this disruption or damage to the DNA affects the cell division and means they cannot reproduce and perform the functions they need to, therefore stopping the growth of bacteria.
UV is invisible to the human eye.
There are three different bands of UV light, depending on the wavelength. It is the shortwave UV-C radiation that is effective at killing germs.
Whilst it is a little more technical than this if you look at the science, the longer the item is exposed to UV light the better the effectiveness in killing or rendering it inactive.
Bacteria can actually be shielded by other particles as well as being better able to withstand UV, but after a few minutes of exposure in most instances, particularly with toothbrushes, an effectiveness of up to 99.9% is achieved.
In some sanitizers (not applicable to those listed above) air or water is circulated repeatedly to change the conditions and allow for multiple passes of the UV light onto the bacteria to achieve the most effective eradication.
The following video is not of a toothbrush sanitizer, but it demonstrates the use of UV light to kill bacteria.
You can clearly see how the longer it is exposed the more effective it is. However, even a relatively short time period will kill off the vast majority of bacteria, if not all of it, decreasing the risk and in your instance, leaving you with a cleaner toothbrush.
Benefits and drawbacks of a sanitizer
Here are list of what I consider to be the main pros and cons to UV sanitizers.
- Sanitization through UV does not involve any chemicals.
- Clean, easy and stress-free method for killing bacteria.
- Highly effective with up to a 99.9% success rate.
- Different designs for different people and needs.
- Battery and mains powered solutions.
- Some can double up as travel/storage cases.
- Cost effective.
- Not a universal size. Not all sanitizers will work with all toothbrushes.
- Running time. The most effective run for the longest time.
Does using a UV sanitizer give you a cleaner toothbrush?
Up to 99.9% of bacteria on a toothbrush can be killed off using UV light.
This is demonstrated by the explanation and video above answering the question ‘ how does a UV sanitizer work’ and is supported by studies like that by JR Berger from 2008, that looked at the efficacy of UV sanitizers.
How important is running time?
For the best results find a sanitizer that has a longer running time.
The longer the cycle of UV light the higher the effectiveness and likelihood of getting rid of harmful bacteria.
Should I buy a battery powered or mains powered sanitizer?
Those that are powered from mains electricity are likely to be more useful long term as they are easier to maintain without the need to continually replace batteries.
However, those units with batteries tend to be more portable and versatile.
It will depend on what your desires are.
If you are happy to buy and replace the batteries fairly regularly and want the advantages such bring then go for it.
Those that are mains powered are however likely to run for longer, as is shown by the 10 minute run time of the Philips Sonicare UV sanitizer. They are to likely to be larger and accommodate more toothbrushes.
Those larger units, designed for more than just toothbrushes will be mains powered only in most instances as their size and power consumption would not make them appropriate for removable batteries. They tend to be a more permanent installation within the home.
How much should I pay?
Ultimately it will depend on how much the sanitizer is worth to you.
Prices can start from as little as $10 but reach $60 or so for toothbrush sanitizers.
It is possible to pay more for larger units that will be big enough to sanitize more than just a toothbrush.
You might think $250 is well spent if you can now put in a variety of different items from around the home that you would like to be virtually sterile.
Difference between sanitized and sterile
It is worth knowing that there is a difference between these 2 words, although quite often they can mistakenly be used interchangeably.
Sanitizing a product will kill of bacteria up to 99.9 percent.
For example, if one million bacteria are present at the outset, 1000 bacteria remain after a 99.9 percent reduction.
When a product is sterilized, this means that all living organisms have been destroyed and 0 bacteria would remain.
Even specialist companies will often advertise a certain reduction e.g., 99.9999% effective, instead of sterilization, because it is very hard to confirm total sterilization.
To my knowledge, no product exists that you and I can buy that would actually sterilize a toothbrush.
If you see a product that claims to achieve this you should question, whether or not this is actually genuine.
With efficacy at 99.9 percent, given the data that questions the need for sanitizing in the first place, this is very good and your risk reduced significantly.
Do I need one?
The American Dental Association do however suggest that a sanitizer is not necessary.
In recent years, scientists have studied whether toothbrushes may harbor microorganisms that could cause oral and/or systemic infection….The human body is constantly exposed to potentially harmful microbes. However, the body is normally able to defend itself against infections through a combination of passive and active mechanisms…. Although studies have shown that various microorganisms can grow on toothbrushes after use, and other studies have examined various methods to reduce the level of these bacteria, there is insufficient clinical evidence to support that bacterial growth on toothbrushes will lead to specific adverse oral or systemic health effects.
My own research has found that studies by K Belanger-Giguere in 2011 and Peker IIkay in 2014 that suggest that to be effective, the sanitizers need to run for longer, ideally 20 minutes or more, when most out of the box run for less than 10.
Science and clinical studies play a major part in directing advice, guidelines and how we live our lives.
Whilst the advice may well change in the future, when you consider the situation as it is at present, the vast majority do not, and would not consider sanitizing their toothbrush. This has been the case for many decades, despite knowing bacteria is present. Nonetheless, the majority of people remain fit and well and rarely is it determined that individuals have succumb to illness or health problems as a result of toothbrush hygiene.
Despite knowing that a sanitizer can kill 99.9% of germs, the ADA’s opinion is not at all flawed.
Therefore it is fair to say you do not NEED a UV sanitizer.
However, there is little harm in taking extra precautions, for the relatively low cost of buying one.
The ADA do themselves say:
A common-sense approach is recommended for situations where patients may be at higher risk to infection or re-infection by various microbes….a higher level of vigilance to prevent exposure to disease-causing organisms may offer some benefit.
The following are a list of commonly asked questions regarding UV sanitizers.
- What type of light is used to kill bacteria?
- UV-C light is the shortwave light that is used to kill bacteria.
- How long does it take for UV light to kill bacteria?
- Bacteria can be killed in just a few seconds, when a short distance from the light. The more bacteria and the more products to sanitize at once, the less effective. The efficacy is best when the cycle is longest.
- How long do batteries last in a sanitizer?
- It depends on the sanitizer, the number of items being cleaned, the length of the cycle and how often it is used. For most people, the batteries will last a couple of months on average before needing replacement, thanks to power saving features such as automatic power off.
- Can a sanitizer prolong the life of my toothbrush?
- It is advised, irrespective of whether you use a sanitizer to replace the toothbrush head every 3 months. A sanitizer may kill off bacteria but it does not impact the wear on bristles from twice daily brushing. Split, frayed or damaged bristles can occur as a result of brushing techniques, pressure and tooth positioning. This, in turn, can be damaging to the teeth and gums, therefore requiring regular replacement.
- The lamp in my sanitizer has stopped working, can I replace it?
- It depends on your sanitizer. Most portable and cheap sanitizers do not have a replaceable bulb. It tends to be the larger or countertop units that will be capable of having the bulb replaced.
- Typically the life of a bulb is between 6,000 and 8,000 hours so it will take some time normally before it stops working.
- How do I care for my sanitizer?
- Refer to the user manual for your sanitizer, it will provide directions. Although UV kills bacteria it will likely suggest some form of mechanical cleaning (wiping it clean, frequently).