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One of the cheapest cleaning tools is also one of the most versatile. Do you know all the things your toothbrush is capable of?

Mary Findley ("Mary Moppins" of has been a career housekeeper for at least a dozen years. She's also the co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cleaning" (2005) and wrote a follow-up four years later ("The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Cleaning"). It's the move-outs for private residences that allow her to do the best work -- and remove every single speck of dirt. About every four to five months at each of her client's homes she arms herself with a toothbrush and does a deep clean.

clean with a toothbrushPhoto: Getty Images

Here's are some areas of your home -- make that, 13 -- where a toothbrush will come in handy. In most cases, your favorite cleaning products or simply warm, soapy water over the toothbrush bristles will be enough to do the job.

1. Edges of the kitchen and bathroom sinks
"It's those little crevices where dirt goes. Toothbrushes work a lot better than toothpicks, which break off all the time and then get stuck," says Findley.

2. Sink drain
To clean out the drain in your bathroom or kitchen sink, simply pour vinegar (which Findley likes as it's less toxic than most other options) down the drain. Next, take your toothbrush and scrub, scrub, scrub until you don't see any more grime lining the drain.

Photo: Jolie Novak, AOL

3. Stove and dishwasher knobs
If you've ever tried to take a sponge and swipe it over the knobs on your kitchen appliances, then you know this just does not work. The goal is to remove all of the dirt, not just some of it. That's where a toothbrush is your friend. It allows you to get under and behind those pesky little knobs, which is actually where dirt builds up, yes?

Photo: Jolie Novak, AOL

4. Faucet base
Mold and mildew can easily collect on the base of a faucet, says Findley. Gently brush the wet bristles of a toothbrush over the base and more will come off than you could have removed using a rag or a sponge.

5. Linoleum flooring
Put a blob of toothpaste onto a moist toothbrush and get down on all fours to get stubborn stains out, especially marks made from boots or high heels. "That's the only way I get heel marks off my client's floor," says Findley. Note: Do not try this with hardwood or ceramic-tile flooring, however. The toothpaste could stain and the scrubbing leave nasty-looking marks on the floor.

6. Lampshade
Getting dust off a lampshade might require just a swipe with a microfiber cloth, but what about keeping the color pristine? Grab a children's soft toothbrush and gently rub it against the lampshade. "They are wonderful for cleaning the pleats in a pleated lampshade," says Findley.

7. Framed pictures or art
Take a small piece of gauze and cover the bristles, says Findley. "That does a good job of cleaning the corners of framed pictures." If you don't cover the bristles you run the risk of scratching -- and forever damaging -- a beautiful frame.

8. Toilet-seat hinges
Another tight space that a toothbrush has no problem fitting into.

9. Wall sockets for light switches
You're probably already thoroughly cleaning the socket, but what about the little "off" and "on" areas? The bristles on a toothbrush can get the dirt out of those little letters, no problem.

10. Sliding glass doors
You know the runners on a shower area's sliding glass doors? They get pretty grimy and they're a pain to clean. Findley suggests that next time you tackle this task with a toothbrush. "Runners get moldy pretty quickly. A toothbrush gets in the corners," she says. "Man, a toothbrush just zips that stuff out of there."

11. Window frames
Just like the sliding glass doors, the insides of window frames are prime real estate for collecting mold. Take a toothbrush over the cracks and crevices to do a better cleaning job.

12. Microwave or stove vents
Findley takes a rag (she' s really good at chopping up her husband's old T-shirts into 5" by 5" pieces) and gets it slightly wet with a cleaner before throwing it over a toothbrush. This is perfect for cleaning out microwave or stove vents. "You can't spray a cleaner back there because it will burn out the fan," she says.

13. Refrigerator vents and coils
Ideally these should be cleaned twice a year. "With the slats in those vents, it's real hard to get a cloth down there," says Findley.

Read about more surprising ways to clean:
Weekly Cleaning Tips Put to the Test
Mint Robot Cleaner: We Tried It, You Win It

  • John

    It is great that you have shown to people what the toothbrush can be useful for, except for brushing teeth. The last time the guys from Cleaning Clapham came to clean my home they were really amazed how I have managed to clean the stove and dishwasher knobs. Toothbrushes are really useful.



  • Karen

    I like the idea of window frames, but as for those stove knobs, they come off usually you know? I'm just thinking it'd be a lot easier of an angle to clean them if in your hand. Nice tips though! We actually got a couple Oral-B toothbrushes for just 50 cents each the other day. There was a cou pon from HtTp://bIT.Ly/FreebieHomepage that we used at the store. I love it when you can get something so inexpensive with a cou pon or taking advantage of a sale!

  • hsabroker

    Great article, but really, those knobs are removeable and much easier to clean in a sinkful of hot, soapy water!

  • jeannie

    for those white stove knobs...yes! They are removable and if you really want to get them white again and dont care about being green....take some softscrub with bleach and a blue no scratch sponge to it,,,..for scuff marks on the floor powdered comet works well with a rag (test a spot first, dont want to do on wood) who has time to take a toothbrush to a lamp shade? Us the soft brush attachment on your vacuum I also use the soft brush attachment for vents and for coils on the fridge use the long skinny attachment, works great! you can remove the knobs on your sink too by popping off the plastic and unscrewing the knob to clean under them.....shouldnt have to use a toothbrush on the edges if you are cleaning it on a regular basis....if you get marks in your fridge the soft scrub with bleach and blue sponge work great on that too! for fridge handles that are can use the magic gets in the grooves......I should write a

  • hhenry

    What about car detailing and well...., your teeth?

  • Allan

    For years I been saving the old toothbrush to clean my comb. Hair combs tend to get residue that builds up over time between the small and large teeth of the comb. I simply rub the comb gently over the surface of a bar of soap and under slowly running hot water I wipe the toothbrush on the teeth of the comb from top to bottom, then reversing the comb and repeating. The comb comes out like new. Remember to rinse the toothbrush after each comb cleaning.

  • mason younG

    as a Hairdresser, I've been using toothbrushes for this for years...Nothing worse than your haircutter coming at you with a filthy comb...and so many do.

  • Marie

    Was surprised to not see what I use a toothbrush for......(besides my teeth). I use a toothbrush for cleaning my jewelry. Works amazing! Especially for rings, with intricate details. I also use a toothbrush in my car, near speakers, heat vents, etc.....It's genius! My Hubby uses for cleaning under his nails...(thats when it's time for me to leave the room)
    The rest of the suggestions, I've seen my cleaning lady use toothbrush for most of them. Also, I've seen her go behind radiators with it, and use for the base of the vacuum cleaner. (No idea what she does, but, I've seen it)

  • Thomas

    Is this article for real ? Do people really need to be instructed that a toothbrush can clean other things than teeth ? Idiocracy is right around the corner if this is true.

  • George

    What's the matter with you, man? If you don't need the information, just ignore it and move on. Why do you have to denigrate the provider who is being neighborly and helpsul, and the recipient who does find the information useful? What was your reward in that?

  • Annie

    I use Shaklee for every thing that needs to be cleaned. It has been around since 1956 and is 100%chemical free. There is nothing it won't clean, with or without a toothbrush. Tooth brushes are amazing as a cleaning tool..

  • James Race

    A toothbrush can also be used to scrub the entire deck, (Floor).
    USMC, P.I., SC

  • rod

    I can use it forr dads car?

  • JEAN

    I have done a lot of stripping of funiture and a tooth brush is great for getting into the corners and lines that are hard to strip with a cloth, I use the liquid kind and boy does it so a good job.

  • sally

    Great article. Motivates me to do that sort of cleaning! Geez, can't believe the
    negative comments. Guess those people will have a miserable day. I'm
    stoked to clean a few things with toothbrushes.

  • 16 Comments / 1 Pages

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