Your Most Valuable Cleaning Tool Is Probably Sitting in the Medicine Cabinet

Bye mold. Bye mildew.

May 13, 2019

My biggest pet peeve—tied only with slow walkers and surprise raisins in cookies—is the thin line of grout where the floor of my shower meets the tiled wall. It’s an irritating cleaning paradox: a corner too tight to get at with a regular scrub brush, but also particularly prone to mold and mildew. Every night, when I try to take a relaxing shower to unwind from the day, it stares up at me.

That is, until I had an epiphany. I already owned the perfect solution for this job; it was just designed for a different purpose: cleaning teeth.

The humble toothbrush is the best tiny scrubber for little places. The moment I realized this, I slathered the World’s Peskiest Grout Strip in a solution of baking soda and water, let it sit for 10 minutes, then grabbed my old, ready-to-be-retired toothbrush from the medicine cabinet and scrubbed until the strip was white and mildew-free. It worked so well that I went on a spree, using my toothbrush-scrubber all over the house: on the ring around the sink drain, in the tight area behind the kitchen faucet, even on particularly unsightly patches of grout between wall tiles.

Now I keep two separate toothbrush scrubbers—one for kitchen, one for bath—with my cleaning supplies. I also wrote “FOR CLEANING” on each handle with a permanent marker so they’re not accidentally used in anyone’s mouth. (Gross.)

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Top Comment:
“I have used a used toothbrush since I was newly 'housekeeping', about 40 years ago. But, I improved my game when my little grandson left his spinning brush after a visit. Now that was progress! ”
— Elizabeth

The best part about repurposing an old toothbrush as a mini scrub brush? It cuts down on waste, giving your toothbrush a second life before more plastic is tossed in the trash.

It’s one of those little tricks that makes a big difference in how clean the house feels. Now I enjoy a long, relaxing shower at the end of the day, with candles, essential oils, sometimes even a cup of tea.

Mildew is most definitely not invited.

Have any tips or tricks for scrubbing small spaces? Let us know in the comments!
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lynn Spann Bowditch
    Lynn Spann Bowditch
  • Elizabeth
  • bellw67
  • Ginny O'Braly
    Ginny O'Braly
  • Auntie
Annie Quigley

Written by: Annie Quigley



Lynn S. July 18, 2019
Always, always, always dry off the shower - corners and crevices especially - after every use. It really helps to delay, if not entirely avoid, mildew and mold.
Elizabeth May 23, 2019
I have used a used toothbrush since I was newly 'housekeeping', about 40 years ago. But, I improved my game when my little grandson left his spinning brush after a visit. Now that was progress!
bellw67 May 19, 2019
I’ve used an old toothbrush for cleaning crevices for years. Another good one is a toothpick with a bit of paper towel or a rag jammed onto the end, great for corners.
Kathleen July 13, 2019
My husband has this long, thin grabby tool that I use to clean out what doesn't come out on its own via our dryer's lint tray. Works way better than my original plan, which was to wrap packing tape around a stick. BTW: The grabby tool also got my taped-up stick out of the lint tray. Oopsies!
Ginny O. May 13, 2019
I pour Listerine everywhere and it kills everything. Floors, countertops, the toilet, grout. It is my secret cleaner for everything !
Ella Q. May 14, 2019
Woah! Good to know! Have never tried this.
Auntie May 13, 2019
What’s wrong with slow walkers?! Some of us have arthritis and can’t walk fast.
Wait until you get old!!
Smaug May 13, 2019
That was a rather pointlessly dismissive comment. Lord knows I was quicker 30 years ago.
Auntie May 13, 2019
Smaug May 13, 2019
Sorry- the author's comment, not yours.
Smaug May 13, 2019
Do people's mothers not tell them this stuff anymore? I have a not-quite-dead electric toothbrush that I use for cleaning too- very efficient in some situations.
foodluver May 13, 2019
Baking powder, not baking soda? I’m curious why this works better. Thanks.
Ella Q. May 13, 2019
Just fixed this! The author meant to say baking soda. Thanks for flagging it. :)