The bathroom is a functional and practical space in the house, and one we give little thought to. We often spend as little time in there as possible, and apart from keeping it clean, we don’t consider the simple things in the bathroom design and layout which could be improved.
Here are seven suggestions for “quick win” changes you can make to improve your bathroom, and potentially your health and well-being too.
1. Keeping your toothbrush too close to the toilet
Unless you have an enormous bathroom, a typical layout is to have the toilet and the bathroom sink in close proximity. And where do most of us keep our toothbrushes? In a holder by a sink. An academic study found that small particles from the toilet can travel up to 2 metres every time someone flushes, so those particles may land on your toothbrush.
Keep your brush in a cupboard, close the loo before you flush, and wash your toothbrush with hot, soapy water regularly.
2. Reusing a towel too often
It’s not just on toothbrushes that bacteria thrive. They like nothing better than a damp, warm towel to live on, so if you are in the habit of leaving towels in a heap on the bathroom floor, you’re providing them with the ideal habitat.
Always hang a towel up to dry in a warm place once you have used it, keep individual towels for each family member, and change towels at least once a week.
3. Short hand washing
We all know how important it is to wash our hands, but most of us do not wash for long enough. One study showed that 95% of people only washed their hands for 15 seconds or less, when 20 seconds minimum is the time recommended to make sure you get as many bugs off as possible.
Always use hot water to wash your hands, and studies have shown that plain bars of soap are just as effective at cleaning your hands as anti-bacterial gels and liquid soaps.
4. Cross-contamination when cleaning
Few of us have separate cloths or sponges to clean everything in the bathroom, but if you use the same sponge to clean the loo and then the basin, you could be spreading germs over all of the surfaces. This is known as cross-contamination.
Best practice is to use separate sponges for each part of the bathroom, replace them when they start looking tatty, and wash them in the dishwasher after you have used them to kill off bacteria.
5. Going overboard on the chemicals
Marketing and advertising has convinced us that we need anti-bacterial, bleach-based products for absolutely everything in the bathroom. Many of these products can interact with each other, and if you find yourself coughing or with watery eyes from the fumes, isn’t there a better alternative?
Studies have found that cleaning with hot water and basics like soap, soda crystals, vinegar and lemon juice is just as effective as using the fancy branded cleaning products.
There’s really no need to use harmful and pricey chemicals anyway – there are cheaper and more natural ways available!
6. Keeping a loofah for too long
Natural loofahs look a bit like a long dried up cucumber and are great for applying shower gel to the body and exfoliating the skin at the same time. Bugs and bacteria can grow in your loofah though, and they should only be used for about three or four weeks before you throw them away.
Switch to using a plastic net “puff” to apply your shower gel as these have a longer lifespan, and can be washed in the dishwasher to keep them germ-free for months.
7. Using a shower curtain which is too big
Mould and mildew can be a big problem in the bathroom (find out how to get rid of mould here), especially in rooms which are hard to ventilate or don’t have a window which can be opened. One of the main places where mould and mildew love to live is on a shower curtain, and if you have lots of pleats and folds in your curtain because it is too long and sits crinkled in the bottom of your bath or shower, then mould and mildew is going to thrive.
Shower curtains, especially the plastic ones, are very easy to cut to size with a pair of scissors, and the fabric should not fray when cut either.
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