Fitness + Well-being

The dirtiest place in your house has a shocking number of germs

Studies examine health consequences of growing up in very clean homes; reaction from Dr. Jack Gilbert, professor with the University of Chicago's Department of Surgery and author of 'Dirt is Good'

 

There's no getting away from it, your bathroom is rife with germs.

No amount of obsessive cleaning can ensure your toilet, sink and bath are entirely spotless, but where should you be focusing your elbow grease?

You might go for the obvious spots, the toilet seat or the floor.

But the worst offender, according to a new investigation, is your toothbrush, closely followed by the bath.

To help you navigate the hotbed of bacteria and keep your bathroom at its cleanest, designer bathroom specialists Soakology used a heat map to scope out where the germs are loitering.

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And the grime map showed your bathroom is secretly harbouring a world of filth you knew nothing about.

The most common types of bacteria found in any bathroom are bacteroidaceae, or bacteria from poo, E.coli, streptococcus and salmonella.

We are regularly exposed to these types of bacteria on daily basis, not just in the bathroom, so the best way to prevent them spreading is to wash your hands.

While this all may seem rather grim, don’t run screaming from your bathroom yet.

Not all of the bacteria are harmful and, in fact, germs make up a good portion of the human body.

Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and diagnostic immunology at Tisch Hospital, New York University Medical Center, told WebMD: “”There are more germs than body cells on the human body, by a factor of 10.

“So 90 per cent of the total number of cells on your body are actually germ cells. We can’t live in a bubble and avoid germs.”

According to the NHS it is important that our bodies have the right balance of exposure to good and bad germs in our everyday environment to make sure our immune system is trained to deal with different illnesses.

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The toilet

 

Yep, you guessed it, the toilet is a haven for bugs and germs.

But, the humble throne should not be seen in its entirety when it comes to bacteria.

Swabs taken showed different levels of bug infestation on the flush, toilet seat and in the bowl itself.

Unsurprisingly, deep inside the toilet bowl is a hive of germy activity with 3.2million bacteria per square inch found.

But when it comes to the bits you actually come into contact with, the flush and seat didn’t fare so badly in the grand bathroom grime scheme of things.

The average toilet seat is covered in about 295 bacteria per square inch.

Now that you have come into contact with all those germs, remember you are also touching the flush handle afterwards too.

A flush handle can be home to in as much as 83 bacteria per square inch, so it is important to remember to wash your hands.

Your toothbrush

 

 

Arguably the most disturbing finding was this – your toothbrush, that item you put in your mouth every day, is awash with bacteria.

Your toothbrush can contain at least 200,000 bacteria per square inch – that’s more than a toilet seat.

According to a previous study at the University of Manchester your toothbrush can be home to staphylococci bacteria and E. coli, but you don’t need to panic because it still contains fewer bacteria than your mouth.

Most of the germs already exist in your mouth, so you probably won’t get sick from them.

But if you are worried, make sure you store your toothbrush somewhere it can dry out between uses and replace it regularly.

You wouldn’t lick a toilet seat so why put a dirty toothbrush in your mouth.

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The bath

 

 

Again, another obvious germ palace but dirtier than you may think.

You, and everyone else in your household, washes in the bath so there are bound to be germs.

The dirtiest place being the plughole, which makes sense because that is where all the water carrying the bacteria ends up.

The average plughole contains 120,000 bacteria per square inch.

So it might be time to get the drain cleaner out.

And it is not just the bath that carries germs.

The grout in between the tiles is a safe haven for bacteria, as is the sealant around your bath and bathroom taps, so don’t forget those when you next do the cleaning.

Airborne bacteria

Some bacteria can be released into your bathroom just by flushing the loo.

A 2013 peer review study, published in the journal Prime, found that when you flush the toilet potentially infectious bugs can be released into the air.

Some of the bugs remain in the air as droplets and the others settle on surfaces, however the study stressed that there was no conclusive evidence it plays a role in the spreading infections or illness.

The best way to avoid nasty germs being released into the bathroom is to close the lid when your flush.

The bathroom floor

Surprisingly, the floor isn’t as dirty as you might think.

Still, you wouldn’t eat off it.

The average floor has about 764 bacteria per square inch, so don’t forget to mop it regularly.

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Bathroom surface

 

 

Yes, even the surfaces that you probably wipe down regularly aren’t safe.

A bathroom counter top is home to 452 bacteria per square inch.

That means everything you put on your bathroom surface is going to pick up bacteria.

So it is recommended you keep your make-up out of the bathroom, ladies.

The last thing you want is to be blending your foundation with a highlight of bacteria.

The sink

 

 

You go to the toilet, you wash your hands.

The germs from your hands, which you picked up on the porcelain throne, get washed into the sink.

While the soap you’re (hopefully) using kills them on your hands, they are still left to fester in the sink.

So much so that it could be harbouring 2,733 bacteria on just one square inch.

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Taps

You touch them before and after you wash your hands, so you are transferring germs onto taps every time.

They actually contain a staggering 6,267 bacteria per square inch.

That’s more than you find in your sink!

The light switch

 

 

Yes, even the humble light switch isn’t clean.

But, if you think about it, it makes sense.

You pick up bacteria from every surface you touch in the bathroom, even if you was your hands, so when you turn the light switch off and on your are transferring germs to that too.

A light switch can be covered in 217 bacteria per square inch, so remember to wipe it down next time you clean.

It’s not just bathrooms that can be rife with germs – how dirty do you think your commute is?

Earlier this week we revealed which modes of transport you’re more likely to catch bus on.

First published on The Sun.