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Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 5100 Review

From cleaning performance to ease of use, this model ticks all the boxes for those seeking one of the best electric toothbrushes on the market
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Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 5100 Review
Credit: Natalie Kafader
Price:  $100 List
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Manufacturer:   Philips
By Genaveve Bradshaw and Ryan White  ⋅  Dec 16, 2023
81
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 17
  • Cleaning - 40% 9.0
  • Comfort - 30% 7.9
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8.0
  • Battery Life - 10% 5.5

Our Verdict

When searching for an electric toothbrush, your main concern is likely the cleaning ability, and fear not: the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 5100 delivers. It also sports good battery life, comes with a handy travel case, and is perfect for those with sensitive gums. Additionally, its user-friendliness is enhanced by a simple yet refined overall design. One concern we had was the tiny gap between the brush head and the handle, where there's potential for gunk to build up over time. Overall, though, this model hits the mark in just about every way, earning a spot on our best electric toothbrushes review. You might also check out our full best toothbrush review, which outlines our favorite manual and electric models.
REASONS TO BUY
Amazing at cleaning
Great for sensitive gums
Good battery life
Includes travel case
REASONS TO AVOID
Potential for residue buildup near brush head

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $100 List
$79.96 at Amazon
$50 List
$39.96 at Amazon
$30 List
$19.97 at Amazon
$40 List
$29.99 at Amazon
$60 List
$29.95 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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75
73
68
66
Star Rating
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Bottom Line Nearly flawless, this model offers everything you need with minimal drawbacksInexpensive yet fully capable, this electric toothbrush is a solid choice for just about everyoneA great entry level option, but falls a little short in terms of overall cleaning abilityAn inexpensive minimalist toothbrush with a long-lasting battery that cleans wellAffordable, effective, and user-friendly — this device offers value with good cleaning and extra brush heads
Rating Categories Philips Sonicare Pr... Philips Sonicare 4100 Quip Philips One Aquasonic Black Series
Cleaning (40%)
9.0
7.9
5.8
6.8
6.8
Comfort (30%)
7.9
7.7
7.6
7.0
6.1
Ease of Use (20%)
8.0
7.8
8.4
8.0
8.0
Battery Life (10%)
5.5
5.0
10.0
3.5
4.0
Specs Philips Sonicare Pr... Philips Sonicare 4100 Quip Philips One Aquasonic Black Series
Measured Battery Life 46 days 49.5 days 168 days 30 days 31 days
Pressure Sensor Yes Yes No No No
Number of Brushing Modes 3 modes:
Clean
White
Gum Care
1 mode:
Clean
2 sensivity levels
1 mode:
Clean
1 mode:
Clean
4 modes:
Clean, Soft, Whiten, Massage
Estimated Annual Brush Head Cost $44.96 for (1) four pack $44.96 for (1) four pack $28 for (4) 1 packs $15.92 for (2) two packs $19.90 for (2) two packs
Charger or Battery Info 100 - 240V a.c.
50/60Hz
0.4 - 1.4W
USB
(block not included)
1 AAA battery USB 100 - 240VA
50-60Hz
0.8 - 1.6W
American Dental Association accepted? Not Listed Not Listed Yes Not Listed Yes
Waterproof / Resistant Yes, can use in shower Yes, can use in shower Yes, can use in shower No, cannot be used in the shower Yes, can use in shower
Number of Brush Head Styles Available 8 styles, most available in 2 colors 8 styles, most available in 2 colors 1 style available in multiple colors 1 style available in multiple colors 3
Number of Included Brush Heads 1 1 1 1 8
Thirty Second Reminder Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Two Minute Alert Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Travel Case Included Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Measured Handle Weight 4.4 oz 3.2 oz 1.2 oz 1.4 oz 3.6 oz
App No No No No No
Available Colors 2 3 6 4 1

Our Analysis and Test Results

Offering impressive test results across the board, the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 5100 is a powerhouse that doesn't break the bank. It comes with a handy travel case, offers multiple brushing modes to suit your needs, and is straightforward to use, which is particularly helpful if you're transitioning from a manual brush.

Performance Comparison


The mode on the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 5100 can be changed prior to turning on the toothbrush.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Cleaning


The primary metric in our testing, accounting for 40% of the overall score, is cleaning. Our testers chewed a plaque-disclosing tablet for 30 seconds, rinsed, and captured a photo of the pink-dyed buildup. Following a two-minute brushing session using a standard dentist's recommended method, testers rated the cleanliness of their mouths before and after the photo was taken. Subsequently, they compare the photos to see the amount of plaque removed. We also employed a visual test to assess the cleaning efficacy of each electric toothbrush. Using an artificial dental model, we applied a challenging combination of pesto and coffee grounds. After that, a one-minute timer was set to evaluate the efficiency of each toothbrush.


The Philips Sonicare 5100 performed well, with testers reporting a clean feeling and the plaque being completely removed. This is about as good as it gets for the cleaning test. It also soared in the visual test, clearly removing all buildup of the coffee grounds and pesto mixture within one minute, which is a testament to its efficiency. Most users should be more than pleased with this result. If cleaning is your top priority, it's hard to go wrong here, as the Philips is clearly beyond capable.

The visual test for our electric toothbrushes consists of a gunky mess being cleaned off a dental model.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Comfort


Comprising 30% of the overall score, comfort holds a lot of importance, especially considering the substantial time — upwards of four minutes a day — devoted to teeth brushing. We thoroughly assessed and assigned scores based on the overall brushing experience, namely how comfortable each mode is and the noise level of each product.


Again, the Philips Sonicare 5100 delivered impressive results. We liked the smaller brush head, which had no trouble tackling those hard-to-reach areas. Plus, the inclusion of settings like the 'Gum Care' mode was comfortable for our sensitive mouths. The brush also provides feedback, signaling if you're brushing too hard through a distinct tone and vibration.

philips sonicare protectiveclean 5100 - the smaller brush head makes the protectiveclean 5100 a delight to...
The smaller brush head makes the ProtectiveClean 5100 a delight to use.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

The matte plastic handle not only offers a secure grip but also feels nice to hold. The buttons were easily accessible and simple to press, too. However, when the back of the brush head accidentally touches the gums, it produces a jarring noise that causes some discomfort. Points were deducted accordingly.

During operation, the brush emits a slightly higher pitch. To assess this, we placed a decibel reader 6 feet away while the brush operated in its standard mode. We repeated the process with the reader at three inches away. Subsequently, we compared the readings to the actual sound of the brush, evaluating whether the sound was gentle or grating. While it's not the quietest electric toothbrush we've tested (ranging from 45-67 decibels), it's definitely nothing to complain about, and we weren't bothered by the frequency of the pitch.

The ProtectiveClean 5100 has a moderate pitch and fairly normal decibel level.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Ease of Use


Next, we evaluated the usability of each toothbrush, considering factors like interface intuitiveness, ease of cleaning, the presence of a timer, and storage for extra brush heads. These assessments contribute to 20% of the total score.


The Philips Sonicare 5100 continues to succeed here with its three distinctive modes: Clean, White, and Gum Care. To switch between these modes, a secondary button located beneath the power button makes the process effortless. The convenience extends to changing modes regardless of the power being off or on. Additionally, identifying the current mode is effortless, with the indicator light remaining illuminated throughout the entire brushing process. This model also features a 30-second and two-minute timer. After thirty seconds of brushing repeatedly in the same quadrant, the brush stops to indicate it's time to switch quadrants and then resumes vibrating. When the two minutes are up, the unit quickly vibrates a few times in a row, then promptly shuts off.

philips sonicare protectiveclean 5100 - two buttons: one to power on and the other to cycle between modes.
Two buttons: one to power on and the other to cycle between modes.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

The brush is easy to clean, even though the buttons protrude slightly from the body and may accumulate some gunky buildup. However, we don't anticipate this becoming a significant issue, especially given its water resistance, allowing for use in the shower. The brush body also features an indicator light to signal when it's time to replace the brush head, and it conveniently comes with a travel case providing extra storage for two additional brush heads.

philips sonicare protectiveclean 5100 - a thorough cleaning is easily accomplished with a water-resistant...
A thorough cleaning is easily accomplished with a water-resistant body.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Battery Life


In our battery life assessment, we operated the brushes twice daily for a standard two-minute cleaning cycle. We observed and recorded the moment each electric toothbrush's battery depleted, assigning scores accordingly.


The Philips claims a 14-day battery life, but in our testing, it exceeded expectations. This toothbrush lasted 46 days — particularly advantageous for frequent travelers. This extended battery life is especially beneficial given that it takes nearly 24 hours to fully recharge the battery once depleted. To ensure proper charging, the charger beeps twice, indicating the correct placement of the brush. When the handle reaches a full charge, the light turns green for 30 seconds before powering off. While it may not be at the top of the list for the longest battery life, it should prove more than sufficient for most users.

philips sonicare protectiveclean 5100 - your perfect sink companion.
Your perfect sink companion.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Should You Buy the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 5100?


With its exceptionally effective cleaning, versatile modes, and more than sufficient battery life, you can't go wrong with the Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 5100. We appreciate this toothbrush's ability to handle sensitive gums and small mouths. While not necessarily budget-friendly, we believe it's an investment worth making for the sake of your dental health.

What Other Electric Toothbrushes Should You Consider?


If you're new to the world of electric toothbrushes and hesitant to make a substantial initial investment, consider trying out the Quip. It's not a far cry from a manual toothbrush, and it's compact, budget-friendly, and still pretty effective at cleaning. If you desire additional features like a water flosser, take a look at the Waterpik Complete Care 9.0. While it may not be the most comfortable option in the lineup, it performs exceptionally well in cleaning and is user-friendly. Finally, if you want to save a few bucks and keep similar functionality, the Philips Sonicare 4100 is a great contender.

Genaveve Bradshaw and Ryan White