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Germs in the Bathroom

Changing a few habits and doing some spring cleaning around the calendar can help keep your bathroom sterile. Check out these 10 tips.
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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."

Wash your hands after you do your business.
This may be second nature by now, but you should always wash your hands after visiting the toilet or changing a diaper. You should also wash your hands after you come in contact with blood or body fluids, including vomit, nasal secretions, and saliva, says Horowitz. And don't forget: Wash your hands after you clean any area of the bathroom.

Scrub the inside of the toilet bowl.
"This should be done at least a couple times a week with products that contain bleach," Horowitz says.

Let the water run.
Germs can grow in showerheads. If you haven't used yours for a while, let it run hot on full power for a minute or two to flush any germs away before showering, Schachter says.

Scrub showers, bathtubs, and countertops.
These should be cleaned to help reduce the spread of viruses, fungi, and bacteria. "Do it at least twice a week with a disinfectant that contains bleach," Horowitz says. Here's what can happen if you don't: "Germs can line the walls (of the tub) and you can easily touch the surface and then touch your mouth," he says. What's more, the dead 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."

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Reviewed on October 18, 2007

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