Bathroom Germs and Bacteria: Disinfecting and Other Strategies

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While bathrooms are not as populated with germs as kitchens, they still harbor their share of illness-causing bacteria lurking everywhere from the sink faucet to the towels.

But changing some habits and doing spring cleaning around the calendar can help make your bathroom about as sterile as an operating room.

Here are 10 tips to stop germs in the bathroom:

Color code hand and bath towels.
“This way everyone has their one color so family members don’t swap towels and viruses, ” says Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai in New York City, and the author of The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds and toothbrushes.
Make sure everyone has their own toothbrush by color-coding them, Schachter says. “Don’t let your toothbrush make contact with any other toothbrushes stored in the same holder either. Germs can be passed along that way,” he says. “A good rule of thumb is to keep them at least an inch apart.” Replace your toothbrush regularly after you’ve had any illness such as a cold or colds can survive up to three hours, so cleaning surfaces with disinfectant may help stop infections, according to the National Institutes of Health. “Don’t forget the toilet brush handle and plunger handle,” adds Paul Horowitz, MD, the medical director of Pediatric Clinics at Legacy Health System in Portland, Ore. “These are high-touch areas that we don’t think about, let alone clean.”

Set up a paper cup dispenser.
“Use a paper cup dispenser not a plastic or ceramic cup because you are spreading enormous amounts of viral load in plastic cups that are often shared among family members,” Schachter says.

Choose functional tissues.
“The latest trend in tissues are virucidal tissues,” says Schachter. “These tissues prevent the spread of viruses around the house because it kills them when you blow your nose, so they are not left lying around.”

skin cells that sit on inside of the tub can be contaminated. If someone with a cut or open wound goes in the tub, those organisms can infect that wound and increase the overall load of bacteria.”