How to use miswak? Everything you need to know is explained!

Miswak is one of the oldest known oral hygiene tools used since ancient times. It is obtained by cutting the roots and branches of the tree named Salvadora Persica, also known as the toothbrush tree or miswak tree. It’s perfectly normal for you to get confused and ask “how to use miswak?”, as it is a twig obtained from the tree, and not a conventional toothbrush.

No need to worry! Use of the miswak stick may be unfamiliar (unusual enough to require you to pick up a knife every once in a while), but it is also very easy and very practical. Whether you’re looking to improve your oral hygiene, brighten your smile, or simply try something new, learning how to use miswak can be a simple and effective way to improve your overall oral health. Let’s get started!

How to use miswak sticks?

Miswaks (aka siwaks) are pretty easy to use. When you have removed the bark from your miswak stick, put it between your molars and start chewing on them until bristles form and are partly separated. Do not chew too hard because you might hurt your teeth. Also, use your saliva to soften the tip and help with the chewing. Simply follow these 5 steps on how to use miswak and get the most out of it:

  1. Step: Peel a small part (about 1 to 2 cm) of the stick to get rid of the hard bark.
  2. Step: Start chewing the part that has no bark until the bristles are formed.
  3. Step: Let the bristles soak in fresh water for 5 minutes to soften them
  4. Step: Brush your teeth in circular motions and let the bristles get in between your teeth gaps as well
  5. Step: When you are done brushing, rinse with fresh water

How does the miswak brush your teeth?

If you are wondering about the answer to the question “how does the miswak brush your teeth?”, well, the answer is pretty much the same way a toothbrush does. The bristles of the siwak stick will manually scrape off debris from your teeth, and remove plaque and stains. At the same time, the active ingredients of the plant will act like toothpaste, helping the cleaning process and providing antibacterial protection.

How many times should we do it in a day?

Another common question is “how many times we better brush with a miswak stick in a day.” These sticks can be used up to five times a day. But if you use a toothbrush and a fresh siwak together, you will not need to miswak that much. Oral health professionals suggest using siwak in addition to a conventional toothbrush. Because there are studies showing that miswak is not a substitute for regular tooth brushing; it can’t replace your regular toothbrush. So it’s better to use siwak as a supportive tool, not the main one.

For how long can I use the stick?

We can say that you can use it for about a week if we think that you will trim the tip of one and a half inches every day until it gets shorter. This time may double or triple depending on whether you cut it every two days or three days. You can use your miswak bristles for a few days before you trim the bristles off and start afresh.

So let’s say you are trimming the bristles every day then one stick of miswak will last you almost a week. But if you decide to trim the bristles every few days your chewing stick could last you up to 3 weeks. So how long to use a miswak depends on how often you cut it. At worst you will have to cut it every few days.

The length of your miswaks are also a determinant. The majority of siwaks you can buy are between 10-20 cm.  

Does miswak expire?

Miswaks do not really have an expiration date. But since miswaks are natural products, we can assume they have a best-before date. These twigs would naturally dry out, especially if not stored properly.

How to take care of miswak?

As we have mentioned, this chewing stick is a branch of a tree. In other words, it is a plant and when left in the wrong room, it can dry out, and its bristles can become hard. Therefore, it is important to store it in the right environment and to clean it properly like all oral cleaning equipment. 

You need to keep it clean

First things first, you should be careful if you do not know where the actual tree was grown. It’s always a good idea to wash it before using it to make sure you don’t ingest any pesticides or other harmful things. If you are not going to cut the tip right away, you should wash it after use. You have to be sure there is no debris or other stuff stuck between the bristles. Also, after a few days of use, you should cut the end and switch to the fresh fibers to keep your miswak clean.

Don’t dry it out!

How to prevent miswak from drying out depends on the the way you store your miswak. Miswak should be kept in a low humidity environment, so do not leave it on your bathroom counter! You can also purchase a miswak case. You can also soak your miswak in water before use. 

How long should you soak it in water?

You should soak a newly bought miswak in water for about eight hours, it will become very soft and usable. After cutting the tip of the stick and chewing it into bristles, it is useful to soak it in water for at least five minutes before every use. This way you can keep your miswak soft. 

How to properly store your miswak?

The way you store your stick is very important for both its lifespan and quality of use. As a plant tissue with a highly absorbent structure, the miswak is susceptible to external influences that can lead to deterioration, damage, dryness, hardening, and even mold growth. So how you store it is very important to protect the effectiveness. Let’s see how it should be stored.

How to store miswak stick after use?

So, after you are done using your stick, how should you store it? Simple! First, rinse your miswak with fresh water thoroughly. Then put it somewhere cool and dry. Do not store it in the bathroom. The bathroom is a highly humid environment, so you most probably going to end up with a moldy miswak. You definitely do not want mold or fungus on your miswak! As an example, you can keep your miswak in your bedroom away from direct sunlight.

For unopened miswaks, if the package provides enough insulation, it can last for a relatively long time. If not, it can be susceptible to mold if left unused for a long amount of time, since it is a natural product.

How often does a miswak tip be replaced?

Cutting it every day will provide a cleaner and fresher use, but it is not a necessity. Depending on your frequency of use and the wear rate of the miswaks, this period may extend up to every few days. This could range from daily to every few days, ensuring that you are using a newer and fresher layer of miswak that retains its effectiveness and benefits from its extracts.

Why does my miswak grow fungus?

To answer you in a nutshell moisture! Fungi /ˈfʌŋgaɪ/ which is the plural of fungus thrives in environments with high moisture. Basically, miswak is made out of wood and that is something else that fungi are attracted to. So when you put moisture and miswak together, especially in a dark and warm place you will get fungus which is the opposite of a “fun guy”.

What does miswak taste or smell like?

Well, it is a stick, what do you expect it to taste like? But jokes aside, it does have a unique taste. Some people describe it initially as a bit bitter but the taste will pass after using it. The specific taste of miswak is because of the compounds in the Salvadora Persica tree.

Miswaks also have a distinct fragrance and this is because what you are using is a plant, not a plastic or industrial product. Like most herbs, fresh miswaks have a unique odor. The fragrance of miswaks can be described as woody, herbal, or slightly earthy. Apart from this, if you do not clean your miswak, which gets dirty as you use it, and do not cut the tip, its contamination may cause odor.

How can I deal with the taste of miswak?

If you still want to try a chewing stick but are not too keen on the bitter and earthy taste of miswak you can opt for a flavored type of miswak. If you can not find a flavored one you can use rose water instead of water to wet the bristles of your siwak giving it a more floral taste.


-Ramli, Haslinda et al. “The effectiveness of miswak (Salvadora persica L. and Azadirachta indica A.Juss.) practices in reducing plaque and gingivitis among adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 298 (2022): 115598. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2022.115598 Link