Smarter: You’re Not Cleaning Your Toilet Brush Often Enough

By Pang-Chieh Ho

This week, I’m getting my hands dirty and diving deep into the question a lot of us are afraid to ask: Am I cleaning my toilet brush enough? Also in this issue: a Heinz ketchup bottle that’s a bit too enthusiastic about gore, why you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a pressure washer, and more.


‘Flushed With Success’

This is how I clean my toilet with a toilet brush: gingerly, like I’m defusing a bomb.

This is how I put that toilet brush back into its holder: furtively, almost as if I’m doing something wrong. I pop it back in as fast as I can, all the while ignoring the unsightly scene of water dripping from the brush and pooling at the bottom of the holder. 

I also try not to think about how often that toilet brush has been deep cleaned because the answer would be virtually never. My idea of “cleaning” the toilet brush is often to halfheartedly swirl it in the water and then pat myself on the back, thinking, “Well, that’s a job kinda sorta done.”

But it turns out that I’m not the only one who doesn’t really clean their toilet brush. On social media, we polled our users on how often they cleaned their toilet brush, and around 77 percent of you bravely admitted to never cleaning it.

I don’t need to consult an expert to know that those of us who have never cleaned a toilet brush should probably be doing it more often, but exactly how often should we be cleaning the brush and when is the right time to replace it? Here’s the verdict from experts.

When should we clean our toilet brushes?
Toilet brushes should be cleaned after each time they are used so that any germs that are picked up in the toilet do not sit in your bathroom, says Vera Peterson, president of cleaning company Molly Maid. 

You can clean it on a weekly basis if you have a weekly routine of cleaning your bathroom, says Kadi Dulude, founder of Wizard of Homes, a cleaning business based in New York City.

When should we replace a toilet brush?
Some would suggest replacing your plastic toilet brush every six months, but if you clean yours regularly, there should be no need to replace it until the bristles become discolored, get bent out of shape, or fall out, or if your brush is smelly even after cleaning, says Stephanie Canal, senior product manager of cleaning tools at consumer products company Oxo.

What’s the best way to clean a toilet brush?
For a quick cleaning, use a disinfectant spray for the brush and a disinfectant wipe for the handle. Afterward, rinse the toilet brush with hot water and let the brush drip-dry—you can place it between the toilet seat and the toilet base so that the seat is holding it in place—before placing it back in the holder, Vera says. 

For a deeper cleaning, you can soak the brush in a mixture of equal parts bleach and water.

What about the toilet brush holder, which can also be disgusting (my words, not the experts’)?
Similar to the cleaning of the toilet brush, the toilet brush holder should regularly be sprayed with disinfectant and then rinsed with hot water. For more thorough cleaning, you can soak the holder in equal amounts of bleach and hot water, Vera says.

Anything else we need to look out for when cleaning?
When you’re using chemicals to clean your bathroom, open the windows and doors for improved ventilation, says Chris Regan, an engineer who oversees the testing of toilets at CR. 

And if you’re using bleach to clean your toilet brush, make sure it doesn’t get mixed with cleaning products that contain ammonia or acids—bleach doesn’t react well with either, and the combination will produce toxic fumes. In general, there are a lot of different chemicals in cleaning solutions, and you should be careful not to mix two different ones together.

Are there any good alternatives to cleaning a toilet, apart from using a toilet brush?
For a quick cleaning of your toilet, a toilet brush is still pretty handy, Kadi says.

But if you want to give your toilet a deep clean, you can sprinkle baking soda in the bowl and use a sponge to scrub the toilet. Just make sure you aren’t using the sponge to clean other parts of your home—you definitely wouldn’t want that sponge to be used to clean your kitchen sink, for instance.


Some new vehicles are now using in-cabin cameras to make sure drivers are paying attention when the automated driving system is on. Among these three, which driver monitoring system do you think performed most poorly in CR’s safety tests?

A. GM’s

B. Ford’s

C. Tesla’s


This is why you don’t want to get on the bad side of a pressure washer.


Should you go for a soft-sided or hard-shell luggage when you’re buying a new travel bag? Here are some of the pros and cons of both.

Soft-Sided Luggage

✅ Can compress better in tight spaces, such as the overhead bin on a plane.

✅ Takes up less storage room at home.

👎 Is vulnerable to ripping if the fabric it’s made with is not high-quality.

Hard-Shell Luggage

✅ Is better at protecting breakable items.

✅ Tends to be more secure than soft-sided luggage because it doesn’t rip as easily and usually has integrated locks.

👎 Its rigidity doesn’t really allow you to overpack or squeeze in extra stuff.

Check out the luggage brands we recommend, or if you’re looking for something smaller to travel with (because checked bags are a gigantic pain), here is our evaluation of the best weekender bags.


😨 Is Our Ground Meat Safe to Eat?

We tested 351 packages of ground meat, and the results we found were alarming.

🔎 What Your Web Browser’s Incognito Mode Really Does

“They aren’t bulletproof.”

🥒 5 Easy Ways to Eat More Plants and Less Meat

Beef, it’s been real.

💵 Our Favorite Early Deals for Amazon’s Prime Day 2022

Prime Day is July 12 and 13, but these items may be worth getting now.


Once in a while, you might stumble upon a packaging description or ad that makes you go, “Uhhh, someone please explain what this is to me.”

Here’s a classic case in point:

Photo: Kev Shred

I love tomatoes. I like ketchup. I don’t know if the mental image of tomato blood being squirted on french fries does much for my appetite (even if this 2021 limited-release product from Heinz is Halloween-themed).

The Heinz tomato blood ketchup is not the only unusual item our readers have spotted. Check out the funniest products and signs we’ve rounded up recently, including dubious instructions for fireworks and a super-effective sign that will keep trespassers out. 

Seen an ad that has goofed? Spotted a product that makes you blurt out, “Huh”? Please let us know (and include your name and location). Their mistakes—or quirks—are our gain.


The answer is C, Tesla. In our evaluation, we found that Tesla’s driver-monitoring system is not as effective as Ford’s BlueCruise and GM’s Super Cruise systems at keeping drivers engaged—even with the most recent over-the-air software updates.

CR’s auto tests show that drivers can still use Tesla’s Autopilot if they are looking away from the road or using their phones.

By comparison, GM’s Super Cruise and Ford’s BlueCruise reliably alert the driver and intervene if their cameras determine that the driver isn’t looking toward the road in our tests.

You can watch a video that shows the difference between Tesla and Ford’s systems below.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2022, Consumer Reports, Inc.