"Scrub" toothbrushes and toys with denture cleanser tablets
Soni ("A devoted, albeit child-free, reader") offers this cleaning advice:
To clean toothbrushes, I put them in a clean pasta sauce jar or some other container where I can cover them with hot water, drop in a denture cleaning tablet and leave overnight. By morning, I've got sparkly clean and minty fresh brushes that have been scrubbed even down into those little bristle and hanging holes.
Works wonders for all sorts of hard-to-clean items like cut-glass containers and gunky toys with lots of unreachable crevices, gets strong smells out of plastic and glass containers (ever open a supposedly "cleaned" jar or plastic container that held garlic sauce and been bowled over by the lingering odor that no amount of washing seems to remove? Denture tablets work like magic for this!). Also great for chewy toys, pacifiers and bottles, since all that scrubby goodness is built on mouth-safe ingredients (mainly baking soda and citric acid, although some have cleaning enzymes and whatnot - read the label) with a mild ph level.
I use one tablet for anything already mostly clean that's being soaked in two cups of water or less (like toothbrushes or salad dressing cruets), and two or more for bigger (or dirtier/stinkier) items like a left-too-long leftovers dish. I've even used a few in a half a sink of hot water to clean and whiten the ceramic sink. Not 100% successful, but you could see a definite difference - and best of all, no scrub brushes were harmed in the process. [I clean the sink by filling it with hot water and adding some bleach. After a few minutes it's good as new. -- Ed.]
If you buy store brands, these things are dirt cheap (a few cents a tablet). Various brands may vary in cleaning strength, though, so you may want to experiment to find what works best for you (and of course, some dirt just won't budge for anything). But even with really grody stuff, I've had good
luck with these little wonders, although I sometimes had to repeat the process a few times to get to where I was satisfied with the result. And note that they don't sterilize. But they do a great job of basic elbow-grease replacement, and a quick rinse in bleach water or other sanitizer can finish the job if you need that level of clean.