Bathroom blunders that can harm

These seemingly harmless bathroom habits may impact your personal health and hygiene from washing your face incorrectly to sitting on the toilet too long.

You flush the toilet while the lid is up

Faecal matter and urine can fly as far as 1.8 metres away from the toilet bowl during each flush, according to Charles Gerba, a microbiologist. Close the lid before you flush to keep those gross particles in your toilet and out of the air.

You throw wet wipes in the toilet

Many “flushable” wipes aren’t as toilet-friendly as they claim to be. In fact, tests conducted by Consumer Reports showed that some personal cleansing wipes still couldn’t break down in the water after ten minutes compared to regular toilet paper which disintegrated within seconds. These “flushable” wipes have been well known for clogging sewer systems in major cities. Other toiletries that should never be flushed down the toilet include: sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms, band-aids and dental floss.

You pile your hair on top of your head as you shampoo

A recipe for tangled knots includes shampooing a pile of wet hair on top of your head, especially in people who have long hair. The best way to shampoo is to lather your hair in its natural position, whether that’s straight down your back for long hair or flat on your head for close-cropped hair, to give you softer, smoother locks.

You clean your ears with cotton buds You clean your ears with cotton buds

Earwax may be gross, but it’s your eardrum’s best natural defence against dust and dirt. Chewing and talking help your jaw move the wax from your inner ear outward. But the moment you shove a cotton bud in your ear canal, you undo all of your body’s hard work! Cotton buds push the wax back into your ear where it can get stuck. Limit your swabbing to just the external crevices of your ear and leave your ear canals alone.

You sit on the toilet too long

Some people like to use their toilet time to catch up on a good book or scroll through their phone. But there is a common health risk associated with sitting on the ceramic throne for too long: haemorrhoids. The seated position places a lot of pressure on the veins in your lower rectum which can swell or bulge and cause haemorrhoids. The most common symptom of haemorrhoids is rectal bleeding but you may experience itchiness or discomfort around the rectal area. Fortunately, haemorrhoids typically clear up within a week. Just remember that the toilet isn’t the time or place for “me” time.

You use a washcloth to clean your face

Moist things like your washcloth are the perfect paradise for bacteria to latch onto. The only surefire way to keep bacteria at bay is to grab a new washcloth before you wash your face each time. If a new washcloth seems a bit excessive for your daily routine, use your hands to scrub your face. And make sure you switch your towel out every couple of days too. Damp towels also harbour lots of bacteria.


You don’t rinse your bar soap in between uses

One study said that pathogenic organisms may be hiding out on bar soap during and after use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But research shows that the bacteria from a soap bar are unlikely to transfer onto your hands. Just to be safe, you should always rinse your bar soap under running water to wash away the germs before lathering up and store the soap in a dry place to keep the bacteria away since they love moist environments.

You clean surfaces at room temperature

Heating your bath, sink and tiles just five degrees above the normal air temperature “doubles the effectiveness” of alkaline cleansers, Jenny Botero, resident manager of Crystal Gateway Marriott told For the best results, fill your bath or sink with the hottest water you can run from the tap. Let the piping hot water sit for a few minutes before you start scrubbing and cleaning surfaces.

You keep your toothbrush too close to the toilet

Toothbrushes should be stored about 1.2 metres or more from the toilet because, as noted above, faecal matter and urine can propel from the toilet bowl when you flush with the lid open. The sink is another area that’s off-limits, since soap and dirty water can splash onto your toothbrush. It’s recommended you store toothbrushes separately in an upright position in a dry area to prevent the risk of harbouring bacteria and cross-contamination with other toothbrushes.

You use hot water to wash your hands

There’s no need to scorch your hands with hot water to kill germs anymore when studies show that lukewarm and cold water work just as effectively. Researchers from Vanderbilt University in the US found that cold water did just as well as hot water at reducing levels of bacteria when people scrubbed, rinsed and dried their hands properly. The study authors also noted that you’d need to wash your hands in boiling water at a whopping 100 degrees Celsius in order to notice any significantly greater reduction in pathogens. Plus, hot water dries your skin out more than cold and lukewarm water does.

You push out your poo too hard

Another risk factor for haemorrhoids is pushing too hard when you’re constipated. The harder you push, the more pressure you’re placing on the veins in your rectum, which may also lead to anal fissures, tiny tears in the lining of your anus. Try squatting for a few seconds instead of straining. Squatting naturally aligns your intestinal tract to help move things along with less effort. Or if that doesn’t work, pop a laxative to soften your stool.


You don’t wash your hands long enough

Twenty seconds is all it takes to give your hands a proper scrubbing with soap and water, according to the CDC. But at least 95 percent of people don’t wash their hands long enough to effectively kill germs based on a university study. The average hand-washing time was less than half of the CDC’s recommendation – only six seconds. Need a clever way to keep track of time? Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to give you the perfect amount of time to properly clean your hands.


You forget to clean your toothbrush

Researchers from the University of Manchester found about 10 million germs like E.coli on the average toothbrush. That’s icky bacteria no one wants to put in their mouth! It’s important to rinse your toothbrush well after each use and occasionally soak it in a cup of vinegar for about 30 minutes to get rid of any leftover bacteria. And make sure you replace your toothbrush every three months.