Wash an electric toothbrush in a dishwasher

Last Updated on November 28, 2018 by Dave Farquhar

We bought our kids electric toothbrushes. They aren’t expensive and they seem to help our kids get fewer cavities. But how do you clean them after they’ve been sick, or one of them uses the wrong one? You put a regular toothbrush in the dishwasher. But what about an electric? Here’s how to wash an electric toothbrush in a dishwasher.

wash an electric toothbrush in a dishwasher
You can wash an electric toothbrush in a dishwasher. Just make sure you take the battery out first.

We bought these after a conversation with my dentist. He wouldn’t commit as to whether they actually remove any more plaque than regular brushing. Then I asked if he uses one. He said yes. I figure doing what the dentist does is a good idea.

The toothbrushes cost between $3 and $6 so it’s not a great loss when you have to replace them, but there’s no reason to replace them if they aren’t worn out. They ought to last about six months, so if you can get a full six months out of them by washing them after an illness or a mistake, it’s worth it.

What kind of a mistake? If you have to ask, you must only have one child.

Wash an electric toothbrush in a dishwasher

Putting an electrical device in a dishwasher sounds crazy, I know. But if you make sure it’s thoroughly dry, there’s no danger. I’ve been cleaning computer keyboards in dishwashers for almost 20 years. These toothbrushes have good seals on them but there is one precaution I recommend you take.

Our kids’ toothbrushes have a battery compartment with a tiny M1 Philips-head screw. Remove that screw with an eyeglass screwdriver, and you’ll find one or two AAA batteries inside. Note the polarity if there’s more than one, and remove the batteries. I recommend you snap a picture. Parents with kids have short memories about these kinds of details. Or maybe it’s just me.

Put the battery cover back on, then replace the screw. Wash the toothbrush(es) with the rest of your dishes, and use the drying cycle.

Reassembling and testing the toothbrush

When the cycle finishes, remove the toothbrush(es) from the dishwasher. Open the battery compartments and check for moisture. No moisture? Good. If you find moisture, leave the compartment open and let it dry out before you replace the batteries.

Replace the batteries and snap on the cover. Hold the cover shut and push the button. If it doesn’t work, you reversed the polarity. The batteries go in facing opposite directions, but sometimes it matters which one faces up and which one faces down. Try both combinations.

When you find a combination that works, replace the screw and give the toothbrush(es) back to your child(ren).

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