It has happened to all of us sometimes. We have gone away from home and when we are getting ready to go to bed and want to brush our teeth, realize we have forgotten the toothbrush. Going to sleep without cleaning your teeth is never a good idea, including when we are on vacation, so how do you clean your teeth without a toothbrush?

While there is no long-term substitute for cleaning your teeth with a toothbrush, there are ways you can achieve a clean feel and remove debris when you have forgotten your toothbrush. In this article, we share with you ways to clean teeth without a toothbrush. You will also find tips on cleaning your teeth if you have forgotten your toothpaste, too.

Continue reading to find out how to get clean teeth when you have no toothbrush at hand.

How to Clean Teeth Without a Toothbrush

How to Clean Teeth Without a Toothbrush

A good oral health routine includes brushing your teeth twice a day and you should stick to your routine even when you are not at home. When you have left your toothbrush behind, you can use the following methods to clean your teeth.

However, they are not a long-term solution so if you are away for a longer period, buy yourself a new toothbrush. This will avoid plaque buildup in your teeth and you will not compromise the health of your teeth and gums.

Method One: Paper Towel

If you have access to paper towels, you can use them to clean your teeth. Thicker paper towels will work the best, but thinner ones will do as well if you have no alternative. Wrap the clean paper towel around your index finger firmly and wet it slightly. Add toothpaste to the paper towel if you remembered to bring it.

Next, place the paper towel against your gum line and use short up and down strokes to clean your teeth. This will help remove plaque and food particles. Clean one of your teeth at a time rather than brushing sideways as you do with a toothbrush. Ensure you clean the insides and biting surfaces of your teeth as well.

Method Two: Washcloth

If you have no suitable paper towels, you can use a clean washcloth instead. Its rough texture will help remove plaque from your teeth. Start by rinsing your mouth with water, which will remove loose food debris.

Next, wrap the cloth around the index finger and add toothpaste. If you do not have toothpaste, the washcloth method will still work to get rid of plaque. Rub the cloth against the gums and teeth. When you have finished with your teeth and gums, use the other side of the cloth to clean your tongue of bacteria.

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Method Three: Finger

If you have no paper towels or washcloths, you can also use your finger. Wash your hands thoroughly and rinse your mouth with water first. Then add some toothpaste to your finger and rub it on all the surfaces of your teeth as well as your gum line. For best results do this after each meal until you can brush your teeth again with a toothbrush.

Method Four: Twigs

Before toothbrushes existed, people used twigs to clean their teeth. Twigs from arak, neem, and oak trees are still used in many parts of the world. To use a twig, pick a flexible, young branch that has a thin skin instead of bark. Peel the skin and chew the end of the twig until the end turns into a brush you can use to clean your teeth.

Method Five: Mouthwash

If you have brought mouthwash with you, you can use it to freshen your breath, clean away plaque, and disinfect your mouth. Swish a cupful of mouthwash in your mouth for about one minute for cleaner teeth and fresher breath.

Method Six: Floss

While flossing will not clean the surfaces of your teeth, it will help to keep the gaps between your teeth clean of debris. It will also remove bacteria and plaque from the gaps and other areas that are hard to reach. If you have scented floss, it can also give you a fresher smelling breath.

Method Seven: Vegetables

You can also help keep your teeth cleaner by eating vegetables that are high in fiber. Eating foods such as apples, carrots, and celery can help remove plaque and food debris. As well as cleaning your teeth, the chewing motion increases saliva production, which will neutralize acids in your mouth.

Eating vegetables to clean your teeth also comes with additional benefits. For example, apples have vitamin C which is needed for healthy gums, and malic acid that helps to keep teeth whiter. The vitamin A in carrots will strengthen tooth enamel while chewing celery will encourage saliva production to neutralize cavity-causing acids.

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Method Eight: Cheese

Eating cheese to finish off a meal can help to keep your teeth cleaner. It can support the pH balance in your mouth and thus reduce the effect acids can have on your teeth. Cheese is also rich in calcium and phosphates which help to strengthen bones and teeth. It can also help to keep your teeth whiter.

Method Nine: Chewing Gum

Chewing gum works similarly to chewing vegetables as the motion helps to remove food particles and plaque. It will also help saliva production and freshen your breath. However, ensure the chewing gum is sugar-free. Chewing gums with xylitol, a natural sweetener, can inhibit bacteria growth in your mouth.

Method Ten: Green Tea

Another food item that helps to maintain clean teeth is green tea. It has antioxidants that can prevent gum disease and reduce plaque buildup. You can drink the tea as well as use it as a mouthwash swishing it around your teeth.

Method Eleven: Rinse Your Mouth After Every Meal

If you cannot apply any of the above methods, rinsing your mouth after each meal will remove food particles left in your mouth. It can help prevent bacteria from growing in and around your teeth. Repeat the rinse minimum of three times to ensure all food particles are washed out.

What Can You Use Instead of Toothpaste?

What Can You Use Instead of Toothpaste?

If you forgot your toothpaste as well as your toothbrush, there are a few ways you can make your own paste using baking soda or strawberries. If you do not have either of these ingredients at hand, you can use salt water or sesame oil instead.

Baking Soda Paste

If you happen to have some baking soda, you can make a paste using it. Mix about a teaspoon of baking soda with some water to form a paste. Use this paste to clean your teeth with a paper towel, washcloth, or your finger.

Baking soda is used in a lot of toothpaste because it is abrasive. Its gritty texture will remove plaque from your teeth. It also has whitening qualities because it can remove stains from the surface of your teeth.

Strawberry Paste

Strawberries contain malic acid, which helps to keep teeth clean and white, and vitamin C, which supports gum health. You can use strawberries on their own or combine them with baking soda.

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Crush the berries into a paste and use it to clean your teeth. Note that strawberries have a lot of fructose. While this is less harmful than sugar, you need to rinse your mouth properly after you have used strawberry paste to clear as much of it away as possible.

Salt and Water Mixture

Salt has antibacterial qualities and can be used to eliminate some germs that cause plaque in your mouth. Add one or two teaspoons of salt into a cup of water (about eight ounces) and stir to dissolve the salt.

Once the salt has fully dissolved, dip the paper towel, washcloth, or your finger into the saltwater and clean your teeth. Finish by using the saltwater to rinse your mouth. Swish the mixture between your teeth to clear as much debris from the gaps as possible.

Sesame Oil

You can remove food debris and plaque from your mouth using a traditional method called oil pulling. While sesame oil is the best, you can also use high-grade coconut oils. Put a teaspoon of oil in your mouth and use it like a mouthwash to clean your mouth. Pull the oil between the teeth to loosen debris. Spit out and rinse with water.

Sesame Oil


Forgetting to pack your toothbrush when you are going on vacation happens to all of us. Sometimes it will be possible to buy a replacement toothbrush but other times you might not be near a shop or the shops are already closed. At those times, you need to use an alternative method to clean your teeth.

You can use paper towels, washcloths, twigs, or your finger as a temporary toothbrush. You can even make your own toothpaste using baking soda or strawberries. While these methods are a good temporary solution, you should get yourself a toothbrush as soon as possible to clean your teeth properly.

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