We know that flossing is good for us, but is it good for the environment? If you're someone who makes a habit of using natural, sustainable, and eco-friendly products, you may have thought about what happens to the floss you throw away and the plastic containers that are left when the floss runs out. The unfortunate truth is that these waste products aren't great for our planet. But the good news is that you can easily find an eco-friendly alternative!
If you're not sure where to start, we've compiled a list of our top 10 eco-friendly flosses. Our number one pick? The Bamboo Charcoal Dental Floss from Mother Earth. This floss is made from bamboo, which is a renewable resource and is 100% biodegradable. It also comes in a refillable glass container that's packaged in a cardboard box, so there's no plastic to toss out. Keep reading for our other favorite flosses!
Jaeyoung is an oral health educator and dental disease preventer passionate about paving the way for patients to embark on their journey to proper oral hygiene. She graduated from UNC School of Dentistry in 2018 and served on the UNC SOD SPURGEON Student Government.
She's always trying to keep up with new dental research articles and products to help her patients choose compatible products that work with their lifestyles. She's also a coffee lover and mom to two Bengal cats and multiple plants! Catch up with her on her Instagram.
Traditional floss is made mostly of nylon or plastic and often housed in a single-use plastic container. Not only do these materials take a lot of resources to make, but they also can’t be easily broken down when we’re done using them.
When we throw our floss and containers away, they can sit in landfills for hundreds of years or end up in our waterways and pose hazards for marine life. Switching to eco-friendly floss may seem like a small thing, but think about how much floss you use in a year - it adds up!
Our top ten eco-friendly flosses include floss picks and regular floss, as well as floss made from bamboo, silk, and nylon. Whatever your preference, we hope you find something you like!
※Please note that these products were not picked by Jaeyoung Yoo, but chosen through extensive research and by combing through customer reviews by our staff at mybest.
|Container material||Cornstarch, polypropylene|
|Container material||Cornstarch, polypropylene|
The Humble Co.
Bamboo Charcoal Dental Floss with Refillable Glass Container
Biodegradable Natural Silk Floss
Natural Dental Floss Picks
Natural Unscented Silk Dental Floss
Organic Bamboo Fibre with Activated Charcoal Floss
Dental Floss for Tight Teeth
Eco Friendly Dental Floss
Natural Dental Floss Picks
Gentlefloss Premium Dental Floss
Biodegradable Dental Floss with a Refillable Glass Holder
An Eco-Friendly Floss that's Vegan and Cruelty-Free
A Dreamy Silk Floss for a Better World
Double-Threaded Picks for the Ultimate Clean
An Unscented Biodegradable Silk Floss
A Bamboo Floss With Organic Essential Oils
A Vegan Floss in a Compact Tin
A Bamboo Charcoal Floss in a Sleek Steel Dispenser
Minty Picks for Easy Flossing
A Vegan Floss in a Recyclable Box
A Cruelty-Free Silk Floss
|Amount||33 yds.||33 yds.||50 picks||33 yds.||33 yds.||110 yds.||33 yds.||50 count||100 yds.||33 yds.|
|Container material||Glass||Glass||Cornstarch, polypropylene||Plastic||Glass||Tin||Steel||Cornstarch, polypropylene||Cardboard||Glass|
When choosing an eco-friendly floss, it's important to be aware of the materials used to make the floss, container, and packaging. We've laid out the pros and cons of different common materials, as well as some additional factors to consider.
Floss typically comes in two styles: picks or loose floss. Both come in eco-friendly options.
Floss picks are single-use tools that have a small piece of floss at one end and a toothpick-like point at the other end. They’re easy to use and don’t require as much mobility as regular floss. However, because you’re using the same section of floss for your entire mouth, it can result in transferring bacteria between different areas.
They also create more waste than regular floss since you toss each one after use. Most eco-friendly floss picks are made of a mixture of cornstarch and plastic for durability. While these picks aren’t compostable, they’re better for the environment than full plastic versions.
A lot of my patients use the floss picks because they are easy to grab and use. They require quick, one-hand motions, which is less time-consuming. They can be also more hygienic since the floss thread doesn't need to touch the fingers.
Bacteria can be transferred between different areas, but it's more important that bacteria is being disrupted under the gums towards the teeth. Mouthrinse can be used to flush away the bacteria after flossing.
Most floss pick handles are made out of plastic, and the actual floss is waxed and made out of nylon. Handles made of bamboo or cornstarch and silk or charcoal wax tips may be better for the environment.
For some people, loose floss can be difficult to handle because it requires some dexterity. However, compared to floss picks, it's typically more effective because it has the ability to bend and wrap around the curves of your teeth. It's also more hygienic since you can take a long piece of floss and use a clean section for each tooth.
When it comes to eco-friendliness, loose floss is a better choice than floss picks. While picks are generally not compostable, there are many options for 100% biodegradable floss that come in recyclable or reusable containers.
I personally like the loose floss because patients are able to control the floss better, resulting in a more thorough and gentle deep flossing. People with arthritis and other dexterity issues may have trouble using loose floss, though, because it requires both hands.
Since there are many options for 100% biodegradable floss and loose floss removes more bacteria efficiently, I would personally go with loose floss.
Standard floss is typically made from plastic or nylon. If you're looking for an eco-friendly option, try silk or bamboo!
Silk is a natural material derived from silkworms. It’s more eco-friendly than the typical nylon or plastic floss since it comes from a renewable resource and is biodegradable. While silk is a fairly strong material, silk floss may be more likely to break than standard floss.
One downside to silk is that it's typically not cruelty-free since the silkworms are killed in the harvesting process. However, there are a few eco-friendly floss brands that use Ahimsa silk (also called peace silk), which is cruelty-free.
If you experience any shredding when you floss, there may be a rough or sharp area around your filling or natural tooth structure. Shredding can also be due to tartar buildup.
Ask your dental professional about ways they could smooth the area out to prevent shredding, and make sure to go in for regular cleanings to remove tartar buildup to prevent gum disease.
Bamboo floss is another popular eco-friendly option. Because bamboo grows back quickly and its products are biodegradable, it’s a great sustainable resource. Bamboo farming also uses less water and less energy than making plastic floss products. And bamboo floss is vegan!
Since bamboo toothbrushes have been more popular lately, people may look favorably to bamboo floss. Bamboo floss only takes around 60-90 days to decompose in a compost pile. It may be also flavored with an essential oil such as tea tree or peppermint.
When shopping for eco-friendly floss options, you’ll likely see many that include activated charcoal. Brands often claim that charcoal works to remove toxins and whiten teeth; however, the effectiveness of charcoal in floss has not been widely studied.
While we don’t recommend buying charcoal floss just for the purported benefits of charcoal, some people find that the darker color of the floss makes it easier to see the plaque that has been collected.
Charcoal is known to absorb bad odor and attract bacteria which can lead to better oral hygiene. More research needs to be done on activated charcoal for dental professionals to confidently promote it.
Since it's easier to see the plaque removed with the charcoal floss, patients and consumers can be more motivated to use it often knowing about much food and bacteria can come out.
While silk and bamboo are the two most eco-friendly floss materials, they’re not for everyone. Some people prefer the texture and durability of nylon floss. While nylon is not biodegradable, you can often find nylon floss products that use reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging. This can be a great way to reduce your use of plastic.
Nylon floss is the strongest type of floss in the market, but some people may not be able to use eco-friendly floss if they experience shredding.
Instead, some nylon floss may come in eco-friendly packaging that impacts the planet in a positive way. I encourage you to look for products that come in eco-friendly packages.
Not only is standard floss non-biodegradable, it often comes in a plastic container too. When looking for an eco-friendly option, make sure to take the packaging into account.
Some eco-friendly flosses come in a reusable container, often made of glass or stainless steel. This is a great low-waste option, as you only need to purchase the container once, and then you can continue to purchase floss refills as you need them.
With this option, take a quick look at how the refills are packaged to make sure they don’t create unnecessary plastic waste. Some brands package them in recyclable cardboard or compostable soy bags.
You can also buy eco-friendly flosses with single-use compostable or recyclable packaging. Often these will consist of a cardboard container that you recycle when the floss runs out.
Whether you use waxed or unwaxed floss ultimately comes down to personal preference. Both are effective in keeping your gums healthy.
Waxed floss has a thin coating of wax around it that sometimes contains flavor. Because of this, it’s often slightly thicker than unwaxed floss. However, the wax acts as a lubricant, making it easier to get between the teeth despite its thickness.
While standard floss typically uses chemicals to create the wax coating, eco-friendly flosses are often waxed with candelilla wax, which is naturally derived from the candelilla plant.
Unwaxed floss has no coating, so it's sometimes easier to slide between tight teeth. It’s also a good option for those looking for an unflavored floss. However, unwaxed floss can be more prone to breakage or fraying since it doesn’t have a protective outer layer.
I personally prefer waxed floss because it allows you to gently shimmy the floss in between your teeth efficiently without fraying or shredding the floss. The mint flavoring also gives a clean feel after use.
Candelilla wax is vegan-friendly and regarded as safe by the FDA. For pregnant and nursing women, though, I would ask a medical professional before using floss with Candelilla wax.
Whether your floss is flavored or unflavored doesn’t make a difference in its effectiveness, but some people prefer a minty fresh feeling after flossing. Standard floss uses a chemical coating for flavor. With standard floss, there are many flavor options including mint, bubblegum, and fruit flavors.
Eco-friendly flosses typically use essential oils for flavor, with peppermint being the most common. Because eco-friendly flosses are still fairly new, it may be difficult to find other flavors. If you’re not a fan of peppermint or if you like to floss before eating and don’t want a minty taste, look for unflavored floss.
Essential oils such as peppermint oil can help remove bacteria and fend off gum irritation, while tea tree oil can fight against harmful bacteria and fungus.
Looking for more natural and eco-friendly products? Check out our favorite toothpastes, toothbrushes, and nail polishes that are good for you and good for the environment!
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