Reader supported. We may earn a commission on recommendations.

Published: January 14, 2024

How to recycle an electric toothbrush

Author: Jon Love (8 Comments)
Quick summary
  • If possible, re-use the brush for another purpose. If not, see the advice below about the correct way to dispose of it.
How to recycle an electric toothbrush 1

There comes a time in the life of an electric toothbrush where it is no longer working as it should and it needs to be replaced or you have simply decided it is time for a new one.

The question is, what do you do with it?

You have two main options as far as we see it.

1. Re-use the electric toothbrush

If it is still working and there is nothing wrong with it then perhaps give it to someone else to use (change the brush head of course).  Someone else might be able to get some value from it if your desire is to get a new one.

Another option is to retain it for use as a tool to help you with cleaning jobs….it is surprising how handy they can be.  

One of the best uses is cleaning grout, tiles and other hard to reach areas in a bathroom, round the bottom of taps maybe.  Many will use a manual toothbrush, but why not take advantage of the extra power and motion offered up by an electric toothbrush?!

Keep your old brush heads too, these will be fine for cleaning tiles etc.

How to recycle an electric toothbrush 2

2. Dispose of the brush (handle only)

An electric toothbrush contains plastic batteries and electrical components.

The batteries in particular should not be disposed with or amongst your ‘normal’ waste.

The chemicals in the battery can be dangerous to the environment if disposed amongst general waste that goes to landfill.  It should therefore be recycled.

Believe it or not parts of the electric toothbrush battery can be reused for other products or industries.

How to recycle an electric toothbrush 3

Plastic parts such as the body of the brush handle itself will likely end up in landfill at the end of the recycling process.  A petroleum product, it does not biodegrade quickly and if incinerated can release toxic chemicals.

Within the UK, The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, was introduced in 2007 and governs how manufacturers and retailers in European countries behave in regards to recycling.

The principle behind the directive is to ensure that landfill contains less of the harmful electrical products.  The WEEE regulations do not directly affect you or I, targeting the manufacturers and suppliers, but as a result it has made it much easier for us to recycle our old electrical goods.

Under the terms of the WEEE directive, all retailers must provide a way for you and I to dispose of our electric toothbrushes and other old household electrical items when we are sold a new version.  Some companies, particularly for larger appliances will offer a collection service whilst others which are part of the take-back scheme will direct you to your local recycling centre.

Manufacturers and suppliers help fund the national initiatives to reduce landfill and increase recycling.

This article is mostly concerned with the recycling of an electric toothbrush, but you should know many more electrical items can be recycled.

Almost all electrical items with a plug or a battery can be recycled to some degree, including the following:

  • Large household appliances
    • Fridges, freezers, microwaves, dishwashers and washing machines.
  • Smaller household appliances
    • Irons, toasters, kettles and vacuum cleaners.
  • IT and communication equipment
    • Laptops, fax machines, printers, phones and smartphones.
  • Audio, audio-visual and other entertainment-related equipment
    • MP3 players, stereos, TVs, DVD players and games consoles.
  • Tools
    • Drills, saws, lawn mowers and sewing machines.
  • Personal grooming gadgets
    • Electric toothbrushes, hair dryers, straighteners and curling tongs.

If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions, then your electrical item can be recycled:

  • Does it have a plug?
  • Does it use a charger?
  • Does it use batteries?
  • Does it carry the WEEE wheelie bin logo (a crossed out wheelie bin)?
How to recycle an electric toothbrush 4

This directive has made recycling much easier.  Whilst your electric toothbrush cannot normally be taken away in your kerbside recycling programmes that most councils operate there are normally local recycling centres nearby that will accept these.

Locate your nearest recycling centre by using the handy tool offered on the Recycle More website that will tell you where your nearest recycling centre or point is for a whole variety of different items.

Brush heads

You will be aware that every 3 months the brush head on your electric toothbrush should be replaced.

Made of various plastics and nylon, the brush heads cannot normally be recycled. They have to go into landfill waste.

How to recycle an electric toothbrush 5

However, there are specialist companies that are now able to begin recycling and reusing the plastics that come from such products, particularly as the awareness of plastic pollution is increasing.

Whilst the ability to recycle these is becoming greater, getting these items to the recycler is not as simple as we might like.

The main company that does this is called TerraCycle. It partners with various brands so that they can contribute to the cost of recycling.


I wanted to make a mention of the packaging in which electric toothbrushes comes.

To date from all the toothbrushes I have tested, I have found Philips Sonicare to be the best for their more environmentally approach to packaging.

All brands have outer cardboard boxes, but Sonicare tend to have a cardboard inner much like the material/texture of an egg box.

Colgate have thin moulded plastic whilst Oral-B use polystyrene in many (not all) of theirs.

The card can be recycled, the plastic and polystyrene can’t.  I would like to see Oral-B particularly drop the use of polystyrene.

How to recycle an electric toothbrush 6

Environmentally friendly and recyclable toothbrushes

At present, there are not many truly eco or recyclable toothbrushes, be that manual or electric.

Bamboo handled brushes are currently the best option, but only available as a manual toothbrush.

Whilst the bristles are still made of nylon, the bamboo will biodegrade and there is some evidence to suggest particular types of nylon are biodegradable.  (My Plastic Free Life) 

Things are beginning to change, with more environmentally considerate products starting to come to market.

Toothbrushes made from recycled materials, bio-based plastics, along with manual toothbrushes with replacement heads are being introduced, to try and tackle the plastic waste problem.

Sadly, no company has completely mastered this yet.

The Reswirl toothbrush is an excellent UK made option as they have created thieir own circular economy and offer their own in house recycling schemes.

Preserve is a US based company making a difference by offering recyclable brushes made from recycled #5 plastics such as yoghurt pots.  It would be nice to see more initiatives like this.

Author: Jon Love

Leave a comment

I accept the Privacy Policy

November 7, 2023

Oral B batteries are sealed and soldered inside the handle ( I used a Dremmel and pliers to remove one) As a result they will go into the normal waste bins as soon as the rechargeable battery loses its chargability. This is so wrong. But few people will take such a small item to a remote recycling centre. It'll go in the normal domestic bin for burial or burning.

Jon Love - Chief tester
November 8, 2023

Terry. Usually in the instruction manual there are details on how to remove the battery to avoid them being put into the waste bin. It really should be avoided as there is a risk of sparks/fire when placed in a nomral waste bin rather than being disposed of at a recycling centre.

November 8, 2023

Yes, I know that. Most users won't. And a long discarded instruction book isn't going to help

December 6, 2020

Thank you so much for your informative article. I can go to those Colgate recycle centre help a tiny piece.

December 2, 2020

Great website Jon. Clear, concise and very helpful. Thanks

Phang Jane
October 21, 2020

How to change the re-cycleable battery? Mine seems to have re

Jon Love - Chief tester
October 21, 2020

Hi. Your comment seems to have been cut short. Do you have an electric toothbrush with a built-in rechargeable battery? Typically these are not designed to be replaced. Technically it is possible with the right know-how and tools.

Cherry May
November 22, 2018

What a brilliantly informative web site this is. Thanks for doing all the hard work Jon. I'm needing a new electric toothbrush and reading this ahead of the Black Friday sale has just made it a whole lot easier for me. Congratulations and thanks for using your valuable time to help others.

Jon Love - Chief tester
November 22, 2018

Thanks for the kind words Cherry.

Tanvir Haque
January 30, 2018

Excellent and concise summary of what to do with your old electric toothbrushes and brush heads. I now know what to do with them. Re-use them for cleaning stains on clothes or around the house especially tiles. And then the electric toothbrush eventually goes into recycling, whereas the heads will eventually have to be disposed of into landfill. Many thanks Jon Love. You're a hero! :-D

Jon Love - Chief tester
January 30, 2018

Thanks for such positive feedback.

Never neglect your teeth again. Sign up to our newsletter today for honest advice and transparent reviews