Think your bathroom is safe from disease?
I can almost guarantee that unless you know some special "germ" secrets, your bathroom may be giving you diarrhea and other unpleasant problems.
Don't get grossed out -- but do get scared enough to take effective action.
Your bathroom is one of the major germ centers of your house, for obvious reasons. If there's ever a bird flu pandemic, it's one of the areas you must keep hygienic to prevent the spread of bird flu within your household.
Unfortunately, bird flu is by far NOT the only disease threat you face from your bathroom. So you should not wait until bird flu is killing millions of people before you change some of your bathroom habits.
First habit -- in the great traditional battle between men and women about whether the toilet seat should be kept up or down, both men and women are wrong, though women are half right.
The toilet LID should be put down, assuming that after you do your business into the toilet, you flush it.
Studies have shown that when a toilet is flushed, the force of it can send small droplets of urine and/or aerosolized fecal matter as high as twenty feet into the air. They can hit the surface anywhere in even large bathrooms.
Yes, everywhere -- onto your combs, your hairbrushes, your hairdryer, your razor -- and yes, even onto your toothbrushes.
So if that doesn't make you close the lid next time you flush -- just remember that your fecal matter can contain germs which can cause diarrhea. Maybe you didn't get it the first time those germs were in your intestinal tract, but give them a second chance at you and maybe you'll feel them the second time around.
The dirtier the toilet bowl is, the more contaminated material can be spread. So toilet bowls and lids should be sanitized at least weekly.
And while we're speaking of fecal matter -- underwear never be washed in the same load as other clothes. And here I am referring bottom-worn underwear such as boxers and panties, not bras or undershirts.
Yes, fecal matter from your underwear gets mixed in with your other clothes and towels -- anything that's in the same washing machine load. So wash your underwear separately -- in hot water -- and use bleach to make sure all germs are killed. Once a week or so, run a the washer with an empty load, just hot water and bleach, to disinfect it.
Toothbrushs should be keep in a rack where they dry in the air, because germs prefer wet areas. You should dip them into hydrogen peroxide before and after using them.
Razors should be cleaned and dried after every use.
Your washcloth, loofah or bath sponge can hold bacteria from your skin, including Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause infections and boils if it gets on the wrong part of your body.
Therefore, you should keep them dry between your baths and showers.
And of course wash your bath cloth in the laundry, and wash sponges and loofahs once a week with a mixture of bleach and water.
Of course, you should keep your bathtub and shower and rubber mat and curtains, and all other areas such as sinks and counters clean and -- as much as possible -- dry. Germs can lurk on every wet surface, so be sure to use strong bleach or disinfectant on any area that's going to contact your bare skin.
Germs are small and even though we're generally much cleaner than people were many years ago, most of us still need to improve our hygiene habits -- especially in the bathroom.
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c 2006 by Richard Stooker
Richard Stooker is the author of How to Protect Yourself and Your Family From Bird Flu and
Bird Flu Blog
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