Think Your Bathroom is Clean and Safe?
Your toilet, vanity sinks and tub are clean. Every surface in your bathroom shines. Your bathroom couldn’t be any cleaner, could it? Cleanliness is an important part of maintaining good health, and most of us do our best to keep our bathrooms clean. Unfortunately, there are many health risks in the bathroom that are not commonly known. The good news is that there are easy ways to avoid these risks. Read on to find out what those risks are and how to eliminate them.
Mold and Mildew
Bathrooms are wet places. The steam from a shower creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow and flourish. Exposure to mold can cause many adverse effects including headaches, nausea, allergic reactions and asthma. Proper ventilation is the best way to prevent mold because it lets moisture out and keeps bathroom surfaces dry. If there is mold in your bathroom, clean it with a chlorine solution, and be sure to wear a mask and gloves while cleaning.
If you drink water out of the shower head, stop. Shower heads store disease-causing bacteria, which transfers to the water as the water flows through the shower head. Even if you keep your shower head meticulously clean, hot water heaters often contain bacteria as well, resulting in contaminated shower water.
The shower head isn’t the only threat in the shower. Shower curtains are not only a breeding ground for mold and mildew, but vinyl shower curtains actually release toxic chemicals into the air. These chemicals can cause eye irritation, asthma and even cancer. The jury is still out as to whether shower curtains release enough of these chemicals to cause harm. However, it doesn’t hurt to keep your bathroom well ventilated or to skip the vinyl shower curtain altogether.
Chemicals in Shampoo
Many shampoos contain 1/4-dioxane and formaldehyde as preservatives. Formaldehyde causes cancer in rats and can cause skin irritations and allergic reactions in humans. While the use of this chemical is still common, the best way to avoid it is by checking the labels on your shampoo and other hygiene products. More and more manufacturers are ditching the chemicals and opting for natural formulas, so finding an alternative product is fairly easy.
While toilets are generally the focus of bathroom cleaning, even a clean toilet presents a risk of exposure to bacteria. The simple act of flushing the toilet causes a spray, which is laden with fecal bacteria such as E. coli. It’s unknown exactly how far this spray goes, but closing the lid before flushing is a big help in keeping the spray contained.
Toothbrushes located near the toilet run the risk of exposure to the spray of bacteria produced by each flush. Avoid this risk by storing your toothbrush in a drawer or in the medicine cabinet. Don’t forget to dry off the bristles first.
Contact Lens Cases
Contact lens cases provide an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. To discourage and delay bacteria growth, disinfect your contact lens case after each use with sterile contact lens solution, then leave it open to air-dry. Even with regular cleaning, you should replace your contact lens case every three months at a minimum.
The label on the box warns against the use of cotton swabs in the ear canal – and for good reason. Not only can a swab rupture membranes in the ear, but it can push wax deeper into the ear as well. If that happens, only a medical professional can remove the wax. Earwax naturally moves toward the outside of the ear canal anyway, so using a cotton swab to try to remove it isn’t necessary. Cotton swabs are also choking hazards for small children and animals, so be sure to keep them out of reach.
Slips and falls in the bathtub are extremely common, especially for young children. A recent study revealed that up to 81 percent of children under the age of five seen in emergency rooms for injuries were hurt by a slip or fall in the bathtub. Putting down a bath mat and padding with protruding surfaces can help, but keeping the bathtub clean also goes a long way toward reducing the slickness of the tub bottom. If possible, make sure your bathtub is finished with a slip-resistant material, and always keep it clean.
By following these simple suggestions, your bathroom will not only be a clean place but a healthy one, too.
[box type="blue"]Ryan Tupper is a contractor, plumber, and home safety consultant for DecorPlanet.com. He has been helping people modernize and update their bathrooms and homes for over ten years.[/box]