Toothbrush Floor Scrubbing

A typical punishment in the military, or otherwise strict organization, in media is scrubbing the floor with a toothbrush (possibly the offender's own), however impractical it may be. Sometimes, a person will opt to use someone else's toothbrush, especially if he/she does not like the owner of said toothbrush.

A Sub-Trope of With This Herring, and sometimes of Punishment Detail.

Truth in Television, as a stiff-bristled toothbrush is great for grouting or small stains.


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • At one point in Devil's Due G.I. Joe comic series, Drill Sergeant Nasty Beachhead tells a recruit that a cruel man would make him clean the barracks with a toothbrush, before making him clean the barracks with a POTATO.
  • De Kiekeboes: in a comic where Marcel Kiekeboe is drafted in the army, when the Sergeant asks him to present his toothbrush, the Genre Savvy Marcel knows it's this trope and instead of his actual toothbrush, he presents the Sergeant a duster. Unfortunately for him, the Sergeant is also genre savvy and has a spare tooth brush for soldiers who try to get out of this trope.
    Films — Animated 
  • In Barbie and the Three Musketeers, Viveca, Aramina and Renee make Corinne scrub the ballroom floor with a toothbrush as punishment for the damage she did to each of them earlier in the movie when they first meet.
    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Forrest Gump, Forrest and Bubba have to scrub the floor of their barracks with toothbrushes. Both being rather simple-minded, they don't care much about it.
  • Private Benjamin: During basic training, Judy Benjamin complains about the latrine being unsanitary and is ordered to clean it with her toothbrush. Her electric toothbrush.
  • In UHF, when Stanley Spedowski makes his big motivational speech about his mop, he makes a metaphor about how when nothing else works you get down and start scrubbing with a toothbrush.
  • In An Officer and a Gentleman, Mayo has to do this at the end of his weekend of hell after he refuses to DOR.

  • A flashback in the first Gaunt's Ghosts novel has a character punished with doing this. When asked, he greatly exaggerates the "crime" that got him in this situation.
  • In the All Quiet on the Western Front, the protagonist scrubbed the barrack room with a toothbrush on the orders of Corporal Himmelstoss - among other things.
  • The eponymous Rosa Riedl in the book by Christine Nöstlinger met her demise when she was trying to cross the road to help a Jewish storekeeper who was forced by the Nazis to remove the graffiti from his store with a toothbrush. The event was so traumatic she continued to haunt the area after her death.
  • There's a reference in Cain's Last Stand to some schola cadets having to scrub lichen off of a paved parade ground with toothbrushes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Happy Days, when Richie, Potsie and Ralph pledge to a fraternity, one of the things they have to do during Rush Week is clean the floor at Arnold's using toothbrushes.
  • TV's Private Benjamin had a tag at the end of an episode where the girls had to polish Capt. Lewis' jeep using Q-Tips.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Learning Curve," Tuvok orders Crewman Chell to degauss a transporter pad with a micro-resonator. Tuvok intends that Chell will learn patience from the twenty-six-hour task; Torres says it would be done in five minutes with a magneton scanner.
  • Power Rangers S.P.D.: When Sky is punished with scrubbing the entrance with a toothbrush, Jack joins him trying to establish a friendship with him. Sky later reveals he's scrubbing with Jack's toothbrush.
  • After Melvin sneaks back into The Slammer, one of his punishments is to clean the toilets with a toothbrush.
  • In the Dutch sitcom Vrienden Voor Het Leven, when Eddie gets drafted in the army, the sergeant makes him clean the toilet with his toothbrush.

    Western Animation 
  • The episode "Battle of the Baseball Know-It-Alls" from Captain N: The Game Master had a scene with King Hippo and the Eggplant Wizard trying to force Princess Lana to do this. Lana manages to distract them by making them demonstrate how to scrub the floor while she and Game Boy sneak off. King Hippo then recognises one of the toothbrushes as his own and brushes his teeth with it.
  • In an episode of Daria, Quinn Morgendorffer is mistaken for a pledge to the most prestigious sorority on campus. Rather than explain she is only fourteen and only visiting, she is swept away with the glamor of it all and does not argue when told her initiation rite is to clean the front steps of the sorority house with a toothbrush.
  • In Phineas and Ferb episode "Get Busted", the titular characters are ordered to scrub the floor of the W.C. They begin doing it to a rhythm, much to the chagrin of the warden.
  • In an episode of Oggy and the Cockroaches, Oggy ends up in boot camp and the Drill Sergeant Nasty points him to the W.C. before handing him a toothbrush. A few seconds later, the outhouse is bright, shiny and temple-like.
  • In one episode of Beetlejuice, Beej has joined the army (just go with it) and at one point is scrubbing a floor with a toothbrush—only to pause and briefly brush his own teeth with the skeevy toothbrush.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty magister Hulca forces Ben to do this in the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien episode "Basic Training".
  • In the Recess episode "The Biggest Trouble Ever", Miss Finster forces the Recess Gang to scrub the school's floors with toothbrushes as part of their punishment for (Accidentally) breaking a statue.
  • The Day My Butt Went Psycho: Zack's grandmother's butt makes Zack and Deuce do this when she is left to babysit. Deuce uses Zack's toothbrush.
  • Spliced: In "Of Masters and Minions", Mr Smarty-Smarts's new robotic minion makes him clean the lair with a toothbrush. He is so scared of her that when the toothbrush breaks, he starts using his tongue.
  • At the end of one episode of I Am Weasel, Weasel punishes Baboon by making him scrub the bathroom floor with a toothbrush. Baboon smugly tells the audience that he's using Weasel's toothbrush, before realizing that it's actually his own toothbrush.
  • In the Camp Lazlo episode "Scoop of the Century", Lumpus tries to pose as a Bean Scout and, as part of his "initiation", the other scouts make him clean the latrines with a toothbrush. At the end, it's revealed that it was his own toothbrush.