We often decide to change a toothbrush or loofah based on how worn they look. Bristles coming out? OK, change now. Loofah no longer exfoliates? Yes, time to change.

However, because of the warm and wet environment of your bathroom, your old toothbrushes and loofahs are teeming with bacteria and can cause skin infections.

Here’s how often you should be changing them, regardless of how they look.

Toothbrushes

Photo: 123rf

According to dermatologist Dr Low Chai Ling of The Sloane Clinic, studies have found that the average toothbrush contains about 10 million germs, including a high percentage of harmful bacteria that can make you very ill, such as staphylococci, streptococci, E. coli and candida.

Just think: if you have a cold, drop your toothbrush or store it within 1.8m of the toilet bowl (particles and germ become airborne and lodge onto your toothbrush!), your toothbrush gets contaminated too. You may not be able to see the build-up of germs, but distorted and broken bristles tend to harbour these bacteria.

When to replace your toothbrush: Do this every three or four months. Besides, worn or damaged bristles will not clean your teeth effectively.

Loofahs

Synthetic mesh sponges and loofahs need to be changed regularly too, as they may be full of mould and bacteria. These organisms grow and thrive quickly in crevices, and can spread to your skin, causing rashes as well as other skin infections, adds Dr Low.

After using your sponge, wring it out to remove any excess water, then hang it in a well-ventilated area to dry. Remember that synthetic materials like mesh sponges dry faster than natural loofahs and sea sponges.

When to replace your loofahs: Replace your loofah every three to four weeks and the mesh sponge every eight weeks.

Originally published in Shape.