No, we haven't been sneaking into you bathroom and doing unspeakable things to your tooth brush.
Your housemates have.
Not on purpose, mind. A study by biologists at Quinnipiac University, Connecticut, has found that those of us who keep our tooth brush in a communal bathroom stand a 60 percent chance of finding "fecal matter" on it - with up to 80 percent of that belonging to those you share your bathroom with.
While that might be news to you, there have been countless studies conducted over the years indicating that anything that resides in a bathroom will have a substantial amount of poo on it - from tooth brushes to towels, shower heads to taps. And not because of any untoward behaviour - rather that the act of flushing a toilet and washing your hands will always spread a tiny amount of fecal matter.
"The main concern is not with the presence of your own fecal matter on your toothbrush," said Lauren Aber of Quinnipac University, "but rather when a toothbrush is contaminated with fecal matter from someone else, which contains bacteria, viruses or parasites that are not part of your normal flora." While there's little harm in being reintroduced to bacteria that's already made its way through your own system, consuming someone else's flora isn't recommended.
All the toothbrushes collected for the study had resided in bathrooms with an average of 9.4 occupants (student dorms, you'd presume). No matter how the brushes were stored - whether in cupboards or with brush protectors (which actually create a better environment for bacteria to grow) - 60 percent of the toothbrushes were contamination with fecal coliforms. Washing the brush with hot or cold water made no difference to the fecal deposits.
So what should you do about protecting your toothbrush from unwanted contamination? Unfortunately, due to the nature of what goes on in bathrooms, there's not a lot you can do. Replace your brush frequently, keep it in a cupboard if you can, don't leave it in the open and definitely don't store it on the top of the toilet.
But then, given that you've probably been ingest small amounts of poo the moment you started brushing your teeth, it's probably not doing you any real harm is it?
(Source: Science Daily)