Just How Nasty is Your Bathroom?
For a room that’s dedicated to getting you clean, it can sure be one filthy germ-pit.
It’s gross to think that the bathroom — that place we spend a lot of time naked — is crawling with germs, but it makes sense. It’s where you poop; it’s where you leave your grimy clothes in a pile before leaping into the shower; it’s where you trim your dirty nails. But what’s actually living — in many cases, thriving — in there? Let’s take a look.
What’s Living on Your Toilet Seat?
Weirdly, the toilet seat is far from the most germ-covered item in your home. Per a BBC report, there are 200 times more fecal bacteria on the average kitchen chopping board (carried there by the meat you’re cutting up for dinner) than on a toilet seat. While it’s true that in some parts of the world, the presence of toilet seat bacteria that can cause diseases like cholera is a big cause for concern, so long as you give your toilet a thorough regular scrubbing, you’ll be fine. You don’t want to eat your lunch off your toilet seat or anything, but it’s generally not as bad as its reputation would suggest.
What’s Living on Your Toothbrush?
You know where all those germs you thought lived on your toilet seat actually live? That’s right, on the thing you put in your mouth twice a day! According to a study from the University of Manchester, the average toothbrush harbors more than 10 million bacteria, including nasty stuff like Staph and E. coli. This is partly due to the number of bacteria that live in your mouth (100-200 different species) but it’s also thanks to something we call Toilet Flush Blast Radius. Every time you flush, tiny particles of fecal matter are flung into the surrounding area, coating anything within six feet of it. If your toothbrush is sitting out, it’s going to get real gross real quick, especially since it doesn’t get regularly doused in bleach like your toilet does.
What’s Living on Your Towel?
Short answer: Everything. Your towel is one of the most germ-laden items in your home, loaded with everything from coliform bacteria (the kind most associated with feces) to E. coli and salmonella. There are so many germs on the average towel, in fact, that one scientist, talking to NBC, went as far as to say that every time you dry your face with it, “You might as well stick your head in a toilet and flush it.”
What’s Living on Your Loofah?
Surprise — that object designed to sweep your dead skin cells into its nooks and crannies, then gets left, damp, in a dark, humid room, is a veritable hotel for bacteria, yeasts and molds. If you’ve got any open cuts or scrapes — say, a shaving nick — you’re pretty much transferring all that nastiness right into the open wound, putting yourself at risk of staph infections.
So what have we learned? That your bathroom is gross, yes, but more importantly, wash your towels frequently, keep your toothbrush covered, replace your loofah often, and keep up the toilet-cleaning schedule. Remember, you’re only as clean as your bathroom.
We know a great deal about germs these days, but when was bacteria first discovered?
D: Germs are a conspiracy theory, brah
Should You Wash Your Hands After Doing the Dishes?
Yeah, we’re still thinking about that chopping board, too. So what’s the answer? “When we’re washing the dishes, we’re constantly getting our hands clean,” says Jason “The Germ Guy” Tetro, author of The Germ Files. “But if you happen to clean up the area afterwards, you may pick up microbes that weren’t washed down the drain. This is especially important if you also use the sink area for food preparation, such as with vegetables and raw meats. It’s always good to wash your hands when you’re completely finished—just to be sure you’re safe.” Considering those microbes he’s talking about potentially include stuff that’ll cause anything from food poisoning to staph infections, yeah, we’re going to take that advice.
Oh FAQ: Are Razor Covers Necessary?
1. After all this talk of bacteria, you can probably guess the answer: Yes! “It’s like putting a mask on your razor blades,” says Jason “The Germ Guy” Tetro, explaining that it’s useful for keeping grime and germs away.
2. It’s especially useful when traveling. “I’ve had many times where I’ve been traveling and forgotten to [use a cover], and usually by day four, my face is looking a little bit—what’s the word I’m looking for?—zitty,” says Tetro. Keep it covered!
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The two people credited with uncovering microorganisms are Holland’s Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, “the Father of Microbiology,” who discovered bacteria in 1676; and England’s Robert Hooke, who gave the earliest recorded account of a microorganism (a microfungus, to be exact) in 1665. Wait, why are you still reading this? Go clean your bathroom!