There are dozens if not hundreds of electric toothbrush models out there, but frankly, most of them aren’t much good for travel.
Many are too big and heavy to justify a place in your carry-on, and that’s before you pack the charger that goes with them. Even when that charger is reasonably small, if you need to find another wall outlet (and potentially another travel adapter) to use it, it’s more hassle than it’s worth.
Fortunately, a few companies have recognized the need for specialized electric toothbrushes for travel, leaving out unnecessary bells and whistles to include only the features you need. We’re talking about compact designs, long battery life, simple, travel-friendly recharging options, and spare brush heads.
Regular globetrotters have different travel requirements to occasional vacationers, and that’s as true when it comes to brushing their teeth as anything else. That’s why we’ve covered a range of different options, all of which are the best electric toothbrush for a certain type of traveler.
- Battery Life: up to 30 days
- Charging Type: USB-powered stand
- Variable Speed? Yes
- Travel Case? Yes
- Battery Life: up to 30 days
- Charging Type: n/a (AAA battery)
- Variable Speed? No
- Travel Case? Yes
- Battery Life: up to 25 days
- Charging Type: AC-powered stand
- Variable Speed? Yes
- Travel Case? Yes
- Battery Life: up to 14 days
- Charging Type: USB-powered case (or glass cup)
- Variable Speed? Yes
- Travel Case? Yes
- Charging Type: n/a (AA battery)
- Variable Speed? No
- Travel Case? No
What to Look For
While many of the important aspects of travel-specific electric toothbrushes are no different to their more stationary siblings, there are a few features that matter a lot more when you’re on the road.
Size and Weight
While you likely give little thought to the size or weight of the toothbrush you use at home, it’s something you’ll notice a lot more while traveling. Larger versions tend to be more powerful, with better battery life and extra features, but take up a surprising amount of space in a toiletry bag.
You’ll need to make a trade-off of some sort, and the choice you make has as much to do with your style and length of travel as anything else. If you’re heading away for a few days with carry-on luggage, smaller is better. A multi-month trip with checked bags? A larger, higher-end model makes more sense.
You also need to factor in the size of the accessories: there’s not much point having a tiny toothbrush that needs a huge charger and lives inside a bulky case.
Other than being doused with water every day, your average electric toothbrush doesn’t have a particularly hard life in your bathroom. Take it traveling, however, and it’s a different story: it’s likely to get dropped, squashed, and thrown about in your luggage, and needs to be able to survive that.
We haven’t come across any electric toothbrushes, travel-specific or otherwise, that are likely to survive much rough handling by themselves. That’s why we look for a hard case of some sort, which also comes with another benefit: keeping your damp toothbrush separate from everything else around it.
Plastic is the most common case material, and for good reason: it’s cheap, tough, and easy to clean.
Electric toothbrushes typically work in one of two ways: high-speed brush rotation, or sonic vibration. If it’s not clear in the description of a particular model, you can usually tell by the shape of the brush: round for rotary, elongated for sonic.
Most manufacturers have moved to sonic-based models, which produce high-frequency vibrations, typically around 30-40,000 strokes per minute. These vibrations are transmitted through the bristles to create a type of cleaning action called “cavitation”, which helps loosen plaque and debris from teeth and gums.
This approach is typically more forceful than that of a traditional rotary electric toothbrush, which makes it more effective at cleaning your teeth, but can be painful for those with sensitive teeth and gums. You can mitigate this by your choice of brush (soft versus hard) to some extent, but not entirely.
Charging and Battery Life
You’ve basically got two choices when it comes to electric toothbrush batteries: rechargeable or disposable. Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages for travel.
Rechargeable batteries are made from either nickel-metal or (typically) lithium-ion. The latter is a better option in nearly every case: although it’s more expensive, it can store more energy in the same space, and holds a charge longer when not in use.
You’ll find them in almost all mid to high-end electric toothbrushes, but battery life varies widely between models. Expect to get around a week out of smaller, cheaper models, and a month or more from larger, more expensive versions.
The biggest downside, of course, is the need to travel with a charger. The vast majority of rechargeable electric toothbrushes use inductive charging, where you place the brush on a base or dock that transfers energy to the battery in the toothbrush.
It’s very convenient in normal life, since you don’t need to worry about plugging in a charger and can just keep the toothbrush on the charging base when you’re not using it. When traveling, however, these bases take up extra space in your bag, and are something else to clean and dry when you’re packing.
If you’re traveling internationally, there’s another issue: plug adapters. Not only is it annoying to have to dig out an adapter every time you want to charge your toothbrush, but some countries (like the UK) have bathroom-specific power outlets that almost certainly won’t work with your usual travel adapter.
That’s why we prefer USB charging where possible. For waterproofing reasons, it’s rare to find a USB socket built into the toothbrush, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an option. Some companies include it in the travel case, and USB-powered inductive chargers are also cheaply available for many popular brands.
On the lower end of the price range, disposable AA or AAA batteries become more common. They have the advantage of not requiring a separate charger and (typically) last quite a while, but the downside, of course, is having to travel with or track down a set of replacements.
We generally prefer a rechargeable battery for any travel toothbrush that’s going to be used regularly, but if you’re only going away for a week or two a year, disposables are probably fine. Just drop in a fresh set before you leave home and you should be set for the whole trip.
At least with the more-expensive models, electric toothbrush heads come in a variety of bristle types, typically soft, medium, and hard at a minimum. If you have sensitive teeth or gums, you may want to opt for a softer bristle to avoid pain or bleeding while brushing.
Some heads come with additional features, like multi-level bristle configurations or built-in tongue cleaners. They’re generally nice-to-have rather than essential, but if you know you’ll get value from these extras, make sure you can buy heads that include them.
Remember too that toothbrush heads need to be replaced after a few months of (fulltime) use, so check the availability of replacement heads if you’re planning to keep your toothbrush for a while. Prices range from a few dollars to over ten bucks each, so factor that into the total cost when deciding what to buy.
Brushing Modes and Guides
Electric toothbrushes typically have a variety of different modes or speeds that let you customize your brushing experience. What’s available and how it’s implemented differs between models, but you’ll often find modes for sensitive teeth, deep/intensive cleaning, whitening, and daily use, among others.
One size doesn’t fit all, especially if you have sensitive teeth or gums, so this kind of adjustability is useful. It’s also worth getting a toothbrush with a timer that reminds you (typically by vibrating) to switch which section of your mouth you’re cleaning, and when to stop. Typically, that’s after around two minutes.
Best Electric Toothbrush for Travel: Bruush
The best electric toothbrush for travel is one that you don’t really have to think about.
It needs to have a long battery life, so you don’t have to worry about charging it all the time. It should be small and light enough that you don’t notice it in your carry on, while still having enough features and power to brush your teeth effectively.
Ideally it’ll have a hard case that protects it from the rigors of travel and keeps it away from the rest of your luggage, and it needs to be reasonably-priced as well. There’s no point making the world’s most amazing travel toothbrush if nobody can afford to buy it.
The Bruush electric toothbrush does all this and more, and is our top pick overall.
Let’s start with the battery life. You’ll get up to a month between charges, which means for most people, there’s no need to pack the charger: a single charge of the Bruush will last your entire vacation and then some.
If you do want to take the magnetic charger with you, there are two pieces of good news. First off, it’s nice and small, taking up minimal room in your bag. It’s also USB-powered, so you can likely power it from something you’re already traveling with.
Powerful and functional, the Bruush has six cleaning modes (daily, white, gentle, gum, tongue, and max) to effectively rid your chompers of plaque and stains without hurting your gums. There’s also a two-minute timer that reminds you to brush different sections of your mouth and ensures you don’t overdo it.
While we probably wouldn’t suggest the max mode for sensitive teeth and braces, it’s a great option for those who need the extra power to clear stubborn plaque and fight cavities. If your gums or teeth don’t like that kind of aggression, go for the gum or gentle settings instead.
The toothbrush has a fairly sleek and modern design, as these things go, and comes in a small range of attractive colors. The compact travel case keeps the toothbrush protected and away from the rest of your luggage.
Overall, the Bruush had pretty much everything we looked for from an electric travel toothbrush, and very little we didn’t. The only real issue was how long it takes to charge: you’re looking at up to 24 hours from empty to full.
Of course, if you leave it on the charger when you’re not using it, this won’t be an problem. If not, well, a day’s charging once a month isn’t the end of the world.
Best Compact Electric Toothbrush for Travel: Voom Sonic Go
Like to travel as light as possible, while still taking care of your oral hygiene? The Voom Sonic Go electric toothbrush is the way to go. This simple toothbrush easily outperforms models twice its size when it comes to doing what it’s supposed to do: cleaning teeth.
The slimline yet sturdy design makes this toothbrush well-suited for travel, and you won’t need extra cables and chargers in your luggage either: the Voom Sonic Go is powered by a single AAA battery that lasts up to a month.
The biggest downside here is that you’ve only got a single brushing mode: it’s either on or off. That’s not a huge surprise given the budget price point, but still, a little flexibility goes a long way.
It’s also lacking in brushing power compared to the others on this list, with the low 22,000 stroke-per-minute rate not helped by the soft bristles on the brush head. Those with sensitive teeth and gums may prefer this gentle approach, but if you’re looking for a strong, powerful clean, you won’t find it here.
The package comes with a battery, a travel cover that’s sleek and compact just like the brush inside it, and a spare brush head. Available in several attractive colors, this is a compact, simple, and effective electric travel toothbrush that doesn’t cost a lot. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
Best Electric Travel Toothbrush for Sensitive Teeth: Brightline Sonic
The discomfort of sensitive teeth can take the fun out of traveling (and many other things in life). Enter the Brightline Sonic, an inexpensive travel toothbrush that still offers adjustable brushing intensity.
For this category, we looked for a specialized electric toothbrush that could effectively dislodge plaque and food particles even at a reduced brushing intensity. Sensitive teeth and gums shouldn’t have to mean poor oral hygiene.
While the Sonic starts off at a high (and honestly, quite aggressive) 41,000 vibrations/minute brushing rate, you can adjust that to something better suited to your needs with repeated taps of the power button. The brush remembers your preferred setting, so there’s no need to change it every time.
There’s also a two-minute timer so you’re not tempted to cut on brushing time.
Battery life is impressive: a single charge will last you a good 25 days before it needs juicing up, so unless you’re going on a long vacation, you don’t need the charging stand. That’s fortunate: while it’s lightweight, the stand isn’t the most stable we’ve come across.
It’s also AC-powered rather than USB, and the brush sits quite loosely on it, making it a bit too easy to knock over. There’s no travel case with this brush either: you’ll either have to buy a third-party version, or pack the brush carefully in a toiletry bag or similar.
Those couple of issues kept this toothbrush from our top spot, but it’s still a good option for travelers with sensitive teeth due to that adjustable intensity feature, long battery life, and low price. If that’s you, the Sonic is well worth a look.
Best High-End Electric Toothbrush for Travel: Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart 9500
Smart devices are all the rage, and electric toothbrushes are no exception. If you want a smart electric toothbrush that’s equally good at home and on the road, look no further than the Bluetooth-enabled Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart 9500.
This advanced toothbrush keeps track of your brushing behavior, something we’d like to see more often in electric toothbrushes. Alongside the features included in regular electric brushes (brushing modes and built-in timers), the DiamondClean Smart has pressure sensors that detect when you’re being too aggressive with your teeth.
Five cleaning modes—clean, white+, gum care, deep clean, and tongue care—let you choose your brushing experience, and if that’s not enough customization for you, each mode can be set to one of the three different intensities. That’s about as good as it gets when it comes to finding the exact personalization you’re after.
The most interesting feature is the live tracking that showcases the mouth quadrants you’re tackling in real-time via the accompanying app. Even while traveling, your brushing habits will be recorded if the Sonicare is connected to your phone—and if you fall asleep due to jetlag at 8pm and forget to brush, you’ll get a notification shaming you in the morning!
Compared to the other brushes we’ve mentioned, the DiamondClean Smart has a relatively short battery life; around two weeks between charges. That’s far less of an issue than it could be, though: the travel case doubles as a charger that can be plugged into pretty much any USB port you can find, so there’s no need to pack anything extra.
Note: make sure you buy the Smart 9500 (or 9700) model, not the 9300. While the latter comes with a travel case, it can’t be used to charge the toothbrush. That’s a problem, since it means packing the fancy glass charger instead and somehow not breaking it before the end of your trip.
The DiamondClean Smart is easily the most expensive toothbrush on our list, so if a no-frills electric toothbrush is all you need, it’s almost certainly overkill. If you’re after a sturdy, high-end electric toothbrush to use every day that’s also great to travel with, however, it’s a terrific option.
Best Budget Electric Toothbrush for Travel: Oral B Complete Deep Clean
The Oral B Complete Deep Clean is a lightweight electric toothbrush that’s perfect if you want a cheap yet effective option for travel. Though it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of high-end models, you still get an effective brush that costs less than a cocktail at the airport.
What this brush lacks in features, it makes up for in power, thanks to its high-speed oscillating bristles and rotating powerhead. There’s no adjustment, though, so it’s probably not ideal for those with sensitive teeth and gums. We also don’t love the toothbrush’s high-pitched whine: it’s not super-relaxing first thing in the morning!
As for charging, there’s no need: the brush gets its power from a standard AA battery, so that’s one less charger to carry. Since these batteries are common almost everywhere, it won’t be a hassle to find a replacement when it runs out.
There’s no timer, travel cover or case, or any other features or accessories: this is a simple budget model. If you’re after a brush to use every day, you’ll be better served by one of the more expensive versions mentioned above.
For a cheap travel electric toothbrush that’ll do a better job than your old manual version, though, this is the way to go. Given the low cost, it also won’t matter much if you accidentally forget it in your hotel room: always a risk with any toothbrush!
Each of the five toothbrushes we mention are well-suited for travel, but your personal preferences and budget should ultimately drive your purchase decision.
If you’re looking for an electric travel toothbrush with great battery life, sleek design, and flexible cleaning modes at a reasonable price, the Bruush is your best bet. The compact build of the Voom Sonic Go is ideal if you’re short on space, but note that it only has a single brushing mode.
If you’ve got sensitive teeth and gums, the customizable experience of the Brightline Sonic is the way to go, while those looking for a high-end everyday electric toothbrush that’s also great to travel with need look no further than the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart 9500.
Finally, if you’re just after something cheap and cheerful that still does a good job, the Oral B Complete Deep Clean is one of the most budget-friendly travel electric toothbrush options you’ll find.
Main image via Vilgun/Shutterstock.com, product images via Amazon