After years of showering on a daily basis, you’d think stepping out completely clean is a given. Some body parts, however, are easy to miss, and so are often left unwashed for weeks at a time. Below is a list of every hard-to-reach body part, how to clean it, and what nasty aftermath awaits if you don’t.
Between Your Shoulder Blades
How to Wash It: The simple fix is investing in a long-handled shower brush. If that sounds like too much effort, however, hygiene and skin-care expert, Allison Gallo, has a quick hack: “Grab a soapy washcloth by its two diagonal corners, and hold it behind your back — one hand should be just above your shoulder and the other should be towards the bottom of your back. From there, simply rub it back and forth, then switch hands and repeat.” In other words, it’s like drying your back with a towel.
What Happens If You Don’t: Sweat and dead skin buildup will eventually clog your pores, causing back acne (aka, the dreaded bacne).
Outer Ear Lobes (and Behind Your Ears)
How to Wash It: It’s easy to skip over the outer lobes and behind the ears, even if you’re an avid cotton swabber. It’s just as easy to keep them clean, though: Use a soapy washcloth to scrub around and behind the ear every time you’re in the shower.
What Happens If You Don’t: The sweet spot between your hairline and the back of your ear is home to a large population of sebaceous glands, which pump out a mix of oil and wax called sebum. As bacteria feed on sebum, they emit a rank odor, which is the last thing you want someone to experience when they go to whisper in your ear.
Inside Your Belly Button
How to Wash It: Use cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol to wipe away any dirt that’s stuck up in there (don’t go overboard with the rubbing alcohol, as too much of it can irritate the skin), then simply wash it out with soap and water on a daily basis.
What Happens If You Don’t: A 2012 study found that belly buttons are home to 67 species of bacteria on average, some of which can cause itchy and odorous yeast infections (or other common infections) if not washed out on a regular basis.
Underneath Your Fingernails
How to Wash It: Unfortunately, this space is near impervious to our best means of killing germs ― soap. Gallo, however, recommends using a toothpick (or the handy tool found on the back of nail clippers) to scrape out any noticeable dirt beneath the nails, then doing your best to clean the parts you can reach.
What Happens If You Don’t: According to one study, the area underneath our fingernails yields hundreds of thousands of bacteria per fingertip, since the space between the skin and the nail provides both the physical protection and moisture necessary for bacterial growth. If these bacteria make their way into your mouth ― which is likely if you’re one of the 23 percent of men who admit to trimming their nails by biting them ― they’ve been known to cause vomiting, diarrhea and other kinds of sickness.
Between Your Toes
How to Wash It: Soapy runoff won’t do the job. According to chemist and product wiz, Fadi Mourad, “You really need to massage the soap into the skin for it to bind with the oils and gunk.” Just be careful not to slip in the shower while doing so.
What Happens If You Don’t: Podiatrist Ami Sheth, president of the California Podiatric Medical Association, previously told us that, “Shoes are warm, dark and moist, so they’re a bacteria haven. And if you’re wearing them without socks, chances are you have a whole colony of junk living on your feet.” In other words, the area in between your toes is a bacterial playground ― and one that can lead to fungal infections and a horrible foot stench if not washed frequently and thoroughly.
Between Your Butt Cheeks
How to Wash It: Toilet paper doesn’t really clean your butt ― it just gets rid of larger hangers on while leaving behind a massive trail of germs. Instead, invest in flushable moist wipes, or hop in the shower after every number two. Once you’re in there, pick a designated “butt cloth,” load it up with soap and get down to business. Just make sure to wash it regularly, and don’t get it mixed up with your face cloth — that’s a quick way to become a literal buttface.
What Happens If You Don’t: Since feces are loaded with bacteria and moisture, a doodoo-caked bum could lead to itchiness and irritation, which if not taken care of quickly can even develop into something more serious — like an abscess. This can happen if you proceed to break the itchy skin by scratching, which will allow the bacteria found in your dung to invade your body and cause an infection. Plus, you’ll just feel uncomfortable knowing you’re walking around with a dirty butt.
Now hop in the shower and give yourself a wash and detail. Trust us, you’ll notice a difference.