5 Places Germs Hide in Your Bathroom
Everyone likes a clean bathroom. As long as it smells clean, and looks clean, it is easy to assume that you must have a clean bathroom, but unless you have attended these five often-overlooked spots in the bathroom, then your bathroom may still be harboring germs.
The bathroom is a carnival of delights in the eyes of bacteria, and even those of us that practice impeccable cleanliness may still be caught off guard by these often overlooked germ hot spots.
You wouldn’t think shower heads are germy, but it makes sense. A steamy shower provides an ideal environment for biofilm to develop within the shower head. This biofilm, or more commonly known as scum, has many kinds of bacteria that are for the most part harmless. The real danger of an unclean shower head is a bug called nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM). An NTM infection includes symptoms of fatigue, persistent coughing, shortness of breath, and fever. As bad as it sounds, it can all be avoided with a monthly vinegar bath. Check out our shower head cleaning guide! Replacing the shower head entirely is also an option if it is too far gone. Cleaning your shower head will also help dissolve any obstructions that may be impeding your shower heads water flow.
Another bathroom betrayal! Shower curtains don’t demand much attention. They innocuously hang there, doing the two simple jobs of keeping water in and prying eyes out. So why worry? While you’re preoccupied with cleaning the more obvious spots of the bathroom, the curtain makes its call. Curtains trap and cultivate a plethora of bacterial colonies between its many folds. Between the folds and creases of the curtain bacterial colonies can start to grow. This makes the curtains one of the most germ-ridden parts of the bathroom. Washing them isn’t necessarily a straight forward process though.
Vinyl is still the goto material for shower curtains, and many, but not all vinyl curtains contain a toxic chemical called Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This chemical is released when vinyl curtains are put through a hot wash or even a steamy shower. To be safe, you should check if your vinyl curtains contain this chemical. If you don’t know off the top of your head, it’s safe to assume that your curtains do contain PVC. Alternatively, cloth curtains not only are free from chemical danger but can be conveniently washed of germs as well. A curved shower bar can open up your shower space, making contact with your freshly cleaned body much less likely. For more shower bar options click here.
However often you wash your towels now is still most likely not often enough. Towels are the all-inclusive spa of bacterial getaways, being damp and warm by their very nature. When drying oneself, you wipe away dead skin cells as well as any germs transferred from any other contaminating source. Unless the towel dries before you reuse it, it will smear germs back on you after you just got clean.
The hand towel is just as guilty, if not more so. Handwashing habits aren’t always up to par, and if it is shared among multiple people, it becomes the airport of bathroom nasties.
So how often should you wash your towels? At least once a week, but your safest bet is every 2 days. Make sure to use hot water and an activated oxygen bleach product for best results.
It isn’t news that toothbrushes should be washed after use and replaced on a regular basis, but that was primarily with the head of the toothbrush in mind. Of course, it should be cleaned and replaced, it’s used to scrub out the 100-200 species of microbes living in our mouths, but when we do rinse and clean the toothbrush, little attention is given to cleaning the toothbrush handle. It turns out that this combined with the daily contact with your hand makes the toothbrush handle one of the most bacteria-ridden places in the bathroom. There are several steps you can take to limit this bacteria from overtaking your brush and mouth. First, be sure to store your brush somewhere that gets air.
Keeping your brush in a container that is airtight, or even your medicine cabinet can keep your brush from drying after use, giving germs a nice, swampy home that would make even Shrek jealous. Next, don’t store your brush sitting upright in a cup. The cup traps water that supports bacteria growth, so every time you put your toothbrush away, you might as well set it in a petri dish. Instead, store it up and away with a wall-mounted toothbrush holder. Not only is it more sanitary cup, but it also helps to keep it away from the septic spray of a flushed toilet, which brings us to our final often overlooked danger zone…
If there is one change you should make after reading this article, it is to close the toilet lid before flushing. When a toilet is flushed, research has shown that bacteria can be propelled as far as 6 feet from the toilet. That means the average bathroom is given a fresh blanket of bugs every time someone makes a visit. The solution is so simple, and the benefits a no-brainer. For goodness sake close the lid before you flush.