You can never have too much free toothpaste. It’s such a great donation item. It’s a perfect size to tuck into a Samaritan’s Purse shoebox at Christmas, and it’s always needed at food pantries and homeless shelters.
I don’t pay for plain old toothpaste, the kind that usually goes on sale for about the value of a coupon. For the good stuff, I might go 25 cents. Maybe 50 under extenuating circumstances. But usually, if I’m diligent, a drug store deal is going to come along that will bring a ridiculously expensive tube down to a net cost of little or nothing after coupons. As someone who has to use a formula for sensitive teeth, I’m always on the lookout for cheap or free premium varieties. But even though I don’t use regular toothpaste on my teeth, I don’t walk away from it when it’s free.
Okay, I admit it. I am addicted to free toothpaste.
So other than donating it, what can I do with it?
I had a digital coupon for a free tube of toothpaste from Kroger the other day. The same tube happened to be on sale for a dollar, and I had a fifty cent coupon, which my Kroger doubled. I also had a 2x points coupon, so those two free items also earned me four points on my Kroger card toward a discount on gas. And since my I-wireless phone is linked to my Kroger card, that’s four points toward free phone minutes also. Bonus!
I did some research on some of the miracles toothpaste is rumored to perform, and spent Chore Day trying some of them out. Here are my results.
Note: For household cleaning, use plain toothpaste, the boring kind, not the varieties that sing and dance. Do not use gel. Do not use a whitening formula unless the use specifically calls for it.
What I Tried
1. Dental hygiene. I brushed my teeth with Colgate Total Advanced Gum Defense. It worked well.
2. Insect bites. I’ve been putting toothpaste on mosquito bites for the last few weeks, and it is incredible. Anti-itch creams do me little good, and I’m constantly reapplying them. Toothpaste calms the bite for hours. I applied some old Crest, which had a pale bluish tint, to some bites on my arm, then completely forgot about them until hours later, when I happened to look at my arm and realized I had gone out in public with pale blue polka dots on my arms. I will probably never buy anti-itch cream again. I am trying to remember to wash it off before I go out, though.
3. Cleaning the tub. I hadn’t actually found this specific recommendation online, but I was cleaning a particularly cruddy bathtub with my preferred cleaner, Scrubbing Bubbles. The tub was too dirty to get clean with one application, and the can was almost empty, so I grabbed the Crest. Wow! The toothpaste swiped through the soap scum as well as Scrubbing Bubbles did. It probably took a little more elbow grease, but a lot less than any other cleaner I’ve tried except Scrubbing Bubbles. Next time, I’m going to try toothpaste alone. Toothpaste is free. I have to pay for Scrubbing Bubbles.
4. Cleaning chrome. While I was at it, I wiped down the sink faucet with toothpaste. Quick and easy.
5. Prevent bathroom mirrors from fogging. I don’t have much of a problem with this mirror fogging, but for a test, I cleaned part of it with toothpaste and left the rest for comparison.
6. Prevent goggles from fogging. I wear safety goggles when mowing the grass and they always fog, so I was excited about this one.
7. Prevent windshield from fogging. My windshield almost always fogs when I drive in the evening, no matter the weather. So, I wondered, if toothpaste will prevent mirrors and goggles from fogging, will it work on windshields?
Bonus tip #1: Use a spray bottle to mist down the windshield rather than pouring water from a cup onto a ball of newspaper. (It’s okay. My jeans dried in the sun.)
I scrubbed the inside and outside of the windshield, and then realized something. Toothpaste, by definition, is, well, pasty. Rinsing hadn’t been much of an issue in the bathtub, but the windshield was another matter. As a cleaning agent, toothpaste is great and free, but so is the squeegee at the gas station. If it prevents fogging, I will use it again on the inside, but not the outside.
8. Cleaning the steering wheel. While I was at it, I wiped down the dash, and then started on the steering wheel. Another wow moment. Because of the rinsing issue, another product would be better for general cleaning, but the toothpaste cut through all the hand grime on the steering wheel, although it took some scrubbing.
9. Cleaning bird poop off the car. Another idea that just came to me by inspiration (in the form of a big glob on my hood). It came right off, but would be better if used in conjunction with a whole-car wash.
Bonus tip #2: Cleaning only the pooped-on section on a dirty car makes the rest of the car look worse.
10. Cleaning stainless steel. It works on chrome, so why not the kitchen sink?
11. Acne and oily skin. This is one trick I’ve used for a long time when I need to soak up some shine. I’ve always had very oily skin, and it’s taken me years longer than other women my age to outgrow acne. I still occasionally get a pimple, and one conveniently just popped up. I put a little toothpaste on it and left it overnight. As a bonus, dabbing a mint flavor paste alongside my nose and on my forehead seems to open up my sinuses a little, and makes me feel a little better if I have a sinus headache.
And the results?
Dental Hygiene: Worth paying money for! Consistently using a sensitive formula has greatly improved my sensitivity issues and gum health. It’s also handy for keeping friends.
Insect bites: Definitely, absolutely, positively, indubitably worth paying money for!
Cleaning the tub: Worth paying money for! The tub would probably shine if I’d put more time into it, but it was grass day, so give me a break.
Cleaning grime: Worth paying money for! My steering wheel hasn’t been this clean in years.
Acne and oily skin: Worth paying money for! My pimple was nearly gone the next morning. Use with caution, though, as it is very drying.
Cleaning Chrome: Worked as well as anything else, and it’s free. My faucet is all shiny.
Cleaning stainless steel: Worked as well as anything else, and it’s free. It didn’t make the kitchen sink shine, but it did scrub through soap scum.
Cleaning bird poop: Worked as well as anything else, and it’s free, but now I have to wash my whole car. Not that it didn’t need it before.
Prevent windshield from fogging: I only did a very short test after dark, but no fog. Time will tell.
Bonus tip #3. Move car with newly-clean windshield before mowing grass. I came out to find a layer of dust all over the windshield. When I sprayed it with windshield cleaner, it turned to mud and the wipers pushed it aside. Now I have Wiper Outline Syndrome in the middle of the muck. But the inside is really clean, and the steering wheel feels great!
Prevent bathroom mirror from fogging: You’ll have to ask someone else. I left the bathroom door open while I showered and neither the treated nor the untreated portion of the mirror fogged. The toothpaste didn’t leave the usual kind of streak-marks that wet cleaners do, but there’s still the issue of paste residue. It cleans as well as anything else, though, and it’s handy.
My goggles still fog. But for a few minutes, they were cleaner than they have been since I bought them.
I have definitely added some great new uses for toothpaste to my cleaning routine. This list is by no means exhaustive, and I’ll be trying some ideas in the future. By combining sales and coupons, you can get toothpaste free or cheap, and a small dab can do a lot of cleaning. It’s small, takes little room to store, and is very handy for bathroom cleaning. And no worrying about scary chemicals or noxious fumes. A definite keeper!