Best Tongue Cleaners

Updated July 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

51 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best tongue cleaners

It's common knowledge that brushing and flossing are vital for healthy teeth and gums, but did you know that cleaning your tongue is just as important? While no one likes to think of their mouth as being "dirty", the average tongue is teeming with food particles, dead cells, and odor-causing bacteria — even after thorough brushing. The good news? Simply adding an extra step to your daily routine is enough to keep your tongue in tip-top shape. Whether your goal is fresher breath or improved oral hygiene, a tongue cleaner can help you achieve it.

But picking the perfect tongue cleaner can be tough. Should you opt for plastic or stainless steel? How do shapes differ? And does size really matter?

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While cleaning a fissured tongue can seem a bit scary, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by skipping this step. Bacteria can linger in crevices and grooves, making regular cleaning all the more important.

Benefits of using a tongue cleaner

Tongue cleaners serve a very specific and rather straightforward purpose, but using one does far more than simply keep your tongue clean.

A tongue cleaner can:

  • Remove buildup: Debris, dead cells, bacteria, smoking, yeast infections, and even certain medications can cause buildup on the tongue, producing an unsightly white coating.
  • Reduce bacterial growth: The same debris that causes a coated tongue often creates an ideal environment for odor-causing bacteria to thrive and multiply.
  • Combat bad breath: Removing leftover food particles, dead cells, and excessive bacteria naturally produces fresher, cleaner breath.
  • Enhance flavors: Not surprisingly, buildup on the tongue can significantly dull flavors. Cleaning your tongue exposes and stimulates your tastebuds, allowing you to enjoy fuller, more complex flavors.
  • Improve oral health: A coated tongue not only has a negative impact on your breath and sense of taste, but it can also contribute to tooth decay if left untreated.
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Did you know?
Poor oral hygiene and a coated tongue are leading causes of halitosis.

Key considerations


Tongue cleaners come in a handful of different styles.

Tongue scrapers typically have a thin, flat surface that's used to gently sweep over tongue, collecting buildup along the way.

Tongue brushes have thick, soft bristles that work to loosen debris and buildup. While tongue brushes can help dislodge stubborn dirt, they aren't as effective as scrapers when it comes to actually removing it.

Two-in-one tongue cleaners feature both a brush and a scraper. While some models certainly do a decent job, more often than not, these tend to work better as a brush with moderate scraping abilities.


Although tongue cleaners have a relatively simple design, shapes can vary. Some consist of a single piece of metal that's molded to form an arch at the top with two handles at the bottom. Others have a single handle with a scraper head on top. The simplest tongue cleaners consist of a straight but flexible length of plastic that can be bent into an arch for scraping.


For effective cleaning, a tongue cleaner needs to be long enough to reach all the way to the back of your tongue. Of course, not everyone's tongue is the same length, and measuring it can be tricky, if not impossible. Since the average tongue measures approximately four inches long, it's a good idea to choose a tongue cleaner that matches or exceeds this length. Don't forget to consider the overall size of your mouth, as well. A tongue cleaner head that's too wide can be exceptionally uncomfortable to use, and if your mouth happens to be particularly small, it may not fit at all.

"Bacteria and debris on the tongue not only causes bad breath, but they can also leave plaque deposits on teeth, leading to decay."



Tongue cleaners are typically made of copper, stainless steel, or plastic. When it comes to removing debris, the sharper, firmer surface of a metal tongue cleaner has a definite edge over its plastic counterparts. However, if you're new to the practice of tongue scraping or have a sensitive tongue, you might find the softer texture of a plastic tongue cleaner or a brush more comfortable to use.

Easy-grip handles

While every tongue cleaner has a handle of sorts, not all are created equal. For instance, some models are merely a continuous length of metal or plastic with thin, uniform handles that don't do much to improve grip. Others feature wider bottoms or chunky plastic handles that make them easier to grasp. Many plastic tongue cleaners have ergonomic handles with textured surfaces or a rubber coating for improved grip.

Tongue cleaner prices

The average tongue cleaner is unlikely to break the bank, but prices can vary depending on the design and construction materials.


Because plastic tongue cleaners are cheaper to manufacture, they tend to be the least-expensive options, with prices ranging from approximately $6 to $12 for a multipack of several scrapers. However, it's worth noting that plastic tongue cleaners need to be replaced more frequently than metal varieties.


Sturdier plastic tongue scrapers, brushes, and two-in-one tongue cleaners can cost anywhere from $4 to $7 for a single item or $8 to $20 for a multipack.


Stainless steel and copper tongue cleaners have a significantly longer shelf life than plastic models and typically cost between $4 to $12 for a single scraper. However, a handful of basic models are available in packs of two or four for around the same price.

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Expert Tip
Don't forget to thoroughly rinse your tongue cleaner before and after each use.


  • Avoid tongue brushes if you have an easily triggered gag reflex. Tongue brushes tend to have a wider, thicker surface area that can be uncomfortable for those with a strong gag reflex. If you struggle with gagging, a low-profile tongue scraper might be a more suitable option.
  • Start at the back and work your way forward. Because the tip of your tongue is constantly rubbing against your teeth and palate, much of the debris in this area is removed naturally. The back of your tongue, on the other hand, isn't exposed to much friction, making it more susceptible to accumulating a thick layer of buildup. When cleaning your tongue, remember to focus on the base, reaching as far back as possible before dragging it forward.
  • Easy does it. The aim of using a tongue cleaner is to improve oral health and hygiene — not cause injuries. Rather than applying excessive pressure to speed things up, gently run the scraper over your tongue several times.
  • Experiment with different types and shapes. Not every method works for every mouth. While some people are sensitive to the taste of metal, others might feel that plastic isn't as effective or hygienic. Shape can also have an impact on user experience. Whereas a wide tongue cleaner might get the job done faster by covering a wider surface area, some might prefer to go over their tongues several times with a narrower model.
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Although often overlooked, the sides of your tongue are also prone to harboring debris and bacteria, so don't forget to pay attention to these areas as well.


Q. How often should I clean my tongue?
As a rule of thumb, it's best to clean your tongue at least once a day — twice if possible. For the best results, make tongue cleaning a part of your everyday oral care routine by following up every brush and floss with a cleansing scrape.

Q. When should I replace my tongue cleaner?
While there's no hard and fast rule regarding the frequency of tongue cleaner replacements, most dental care experts agree that plastic models should be treated in much the same manner as your toothbrush: discard and replace them every three to four months. Copper and stainless steel models, on the other hand, aren't as susceptible to wear and tear and don't harbor bacteria when cared for properly, drastically increasing shelf life.

Q. Can a child use a tongue cleaner?
Absolutely! It's never too early to instill good oral hygiene habits, but don't forget to choose an appropriate size, demonstrate proper technique, and supervise each cleaning.

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