where can I buy very large containers of toothpaste?
May 23, 2019 6:49 AM   Subscribe

I buy cooking oil 32 lbs at a time. I buy soap a gallon at a time. Why do I have to buy toothpaste 6oz at a time? Where can I get toothpaste in larger containers? Is there a reason toothpaste doesn't come in larger containers? Searching for "bulk toothpaste" gets me many-packs of tiny toothpaste; searching for "giant toothpaste" gets me a foaming chemistry demonstration.
posted by meaty shoe puppet to Shopping (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I would imagine it's because the way people store and use toothpaste make it difficult to use in the fashion most people use giant containers of hand soap, liquid laundry detergent, etc.--putting it in a smaller container for daily use or keeping it in a laundry room or kitchen cabinet that has adequate storage for a giant container.

I can't really see a reason why one couldn't make a giant pump-action container of toothpaste, but what are you going to do with it?
posted by Automocar at 6:55 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

I believe the reason that toothpaste tubes (that I've seen) cap out around 8 oz is that people prefer to dispense directly from the tube, large tubes get unwieldy, and, well, "you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube" so refilling smaller containers is basically a no-go.
posted by mosst at 6:57 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

Possibly relevant here: I once found an old tube of Aquafresh that was unopened but had been in storage for a few years. I figured it would be fine. When I used it, I noticed that it had absolutely no mint flavor at all. None. And this is despite the fact that Aquafresh, when it's not expired, has a very strong mint flavor.
posted by alex1965 at 7:05 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

For the purpose of reducing unnecessary packaging (which may not be your purpose) I've been looking into toothpaste tablets which can be bought in bulk, at least in the UK. A lot of these are hippy dippy fluoride free toothpastes, unfortunately, but they do exist. However the price may (currently) be prohibitive, if that is your motivation.
posted by tavegyl at 7:21 AM on May 23 [3 favorites]

The cleaning agents and fluoride lose potency over time. If you google about "expired toothpaste" you'll find some resources about this.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:29 AM on May 23 [8 favorites]

The recommended amount per brushing is a pea-sized squeeze, which is 0.25 grams. So that 6 oz tube should be good for about 680 uses, or almost a year for someone brushing twice a day. Even if you had a family of 7 brushing 3x a day, it would last a month.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:42 AM on May 23 [5 favorites]

Crest does make some versions in 8.2oz tubes, but I think the use cases of toothpaste are such that there is pretty much no method of shared-use dispensing that would absolutely prevent someone from touching some part of the dispensing point with a bacteria-laden brush or finger, which is okay for soap or shampoo but not for an ingestible product. So even if you had 600 people* needing to brush their teeth in the next hour there's still no share-able way to pull that off.

*And if you can't manufacture something for the Army**, there's no point in building the machinery to produce it.

**Which I believe in some field applications distributes single-use packets instead. You can also find those in hospitals, shelters, etc though I think higher-end hospitality situations like hotels and the good parts of airplanes trend toward the mini-tubes still.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:13 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

I can't really see a reason why one couldn't make a giant pump-action container of toothpaste, but what are you going to do with it?

I swear I’ve seen something like this before in a heavily-used bathroom (like one shared by a bunch of kids or in a group house). I wouldn’t say it was HUGE but maybe something like ten or fifteen tubes’ worth put together. They might have it at a place like Costco?
posted by sallybrown at 8:13 AM on May 23 [1 favorite]

I worked in a warehouse that had several pallets of boxes of tubes of toothpaste. Turns out that toothpaste (who knew?) has an expiration date. We couldn't sell them. We tried to give them all to organizations that reach out to the homeless and needy. They would not take them bc of the expiration date. I took a box of 50 home. Anyone who wanted any could have them. The UPS guy took a box. I used a tube. Once. I could not put my finger on it, but it tasted not right.

I get that you want bulk containers of toothpaste, but you are an outlier. There is no real market for people who want a 5 pound container of Crest.
posted by AugustWest at 8:14 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]

Yeah, toothpaste is only good for 12- 18 months. It won't hurt you but it won't get your teeth clean if it's expired
posted by shaademaan at 8:23 AM on May 23

on alibaba someone is selling bulk toothpaste for $150/ton (min order 1.3 tons). so, problem solved!
posted by zippy at 8:40 AM on May 23 [18 favorites]

A heavy duty tube wringer can extract a surprising amount of toothpaste, enough so that a tube of toothpaste is functionally about a third bigger.
posted by sculpin at 10:52 AM on May 23

Switch from toothpaste to tooth powder, which is available for bulk purchase?
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:12 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Tooth powder is massively abrasive. You'll run out of teeth first!
posted by scruss at 7:22 PM on May 23

mosst: ... "You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube" so refilling smaller containers is basically a no-go.

Actually, you can. But this is an ultralight hiking thing when you're saving the ounces (cutting your toothbrush in half and cutting the tags out of clothes). Getting a supply of the smaller travel toothpaste tubes makes more sense.

And then there is the great Tooth Powder debate: "Believe it or not, I was gifted a container of some tooth powder with activated carbon as one of it's main ingredients. It's an absolutely horrendous sight to see your mouth completely black. However, my teeth and mouth have never felt cleaner."

And the Dr. Bonners as toothpaste debate: "I use Dr. Bronners peppermint with the GG finger toothbrush. Just a word of caution. USE ONLY ONE DROP!! If you use any more than that, you’ll be spitting soap for the rest of the night."

Truly, there are more ways to clean teeth than you can shake a peeled willow branch at.
posted by TrishaU at 1:49 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

« Older Getting the most out of Amazon Prime   |   Seeking a visual calendar of perennial bloom times Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments