Mention the word bacteria and most people would associate these microorganisms with diseases. Although it is true that some germs and bacteria can wreak havoc on your health, most of these are harmless. In fact, there are even some that are deemed necessary for immunity.
And speaking of germs and bacteria, your home harbours millions of these in different areas. Contrary to what some people may believe, the bathroom is not the only area in your home that serves as a home for germs and bacteria.
In fact, according to one study published in the Korean Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology, your average living room essentially has the same amount of bacteria as the kitchen. The only difference would be the types of bacteria that can be found in these parts of a home.
(Read more here on 5 Sign of an Unhealthy House and How to Mitigate the Risks.)
However, some of the most harmful bacteria can be found inside the bathroom.
The eco-system that is your bathroom
Your bathroom serves as a home for millions of microorganisms, some of which are harmless, while others can cause you and your loved ones to become sick.
What are these harmful microorganisms hiding in plain sight in your bathroom?
E. coli can be found in the human intestines, aiding in the digestion process. However, when the population of this type of bacteria goes out of control, it can lead to digestive issues like cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting, and fever.
E. coli is usually found on the toilet seat. However, it may also lurk on the bathroom floor, the door knob, the soap, taps and other parts of the bathroom.
Another common bacterium found inside bathrooms is the Streptococcus bacteria which is responsible for the streptococcus disease.
Among the symptoms of this disease are sore throat, fever, and nasopharyngeal secretion. The bacteria have also been linked to other diseases like scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, and kidney disease.
These bacteria have been linked to Crohn’s disease. Initially, it was believed that the bacteria trigger the disease after a person inhales the bacteria. However, new research says that the bacteria can be spread through showers.
Salmonella causes salmonellosis or salmonella infection. The bacteria may be spread by flushing a toilet with an open lid as well as through contact with an unwashed hand.
Legionella are a type of bacteria that are commonly found in water. These are responsible for the disease known as Legionnaires’ disease.
In the bathroom, the bacteria can be found lurking in the pipework, taps, showers and showerheads, especially if there is a build-up of slime or scale on these.
A person can become infected with Legionnaires’ disease upon inhalation of contaminated water and then has a 10% chance of the illness killing them.
Of these viruses, Norovirus is the most well-known for the havoc it causes on cruise ships and in schools and care facilities. They can survive temperature extremes, both in water and on surfaces, so they are happy to thrive in all parts of your bathroom.
Mold & Fungi
It’s not just bacteria that make us sick, damp bathrooms provide perfect breeding grounds for mold and fungi. Their effects can be a simple allergic response or more serious skin/respiratory infections including bronchitis.
Keeping your bathroom safe and clean
Fortunately, if you keep your bathroom clean, there is little chance of you or your loved ones becoming sick. How exactly do you clean your bathroom and keep microorganisms and the diseases they cause at bay?
– Clean your bathroom at least once a week
Use a disinfectant cleanser to clean all surfaces inside the bathroom, including the floors. And at least once a month, clean the bathroom thoroughly.
If a loved one becomes sick with an illness like diarrhea or flu, you should clean your bathroom thoroughly.
– Clean the toilet bowl thoroughly
It can take just a few hours for biofilm to develop on the toilet bowl. This biofilm provides both protection and food for harmful microorganisms which can cause diseases.
Ideally, the toilet bowl should be cleaned at least once a week using soap and a disinfectant.
– Use disposable sponges
Avoid reusing sponges for cleaning bathroom surfaces as these can collect bacteria. Instead, find cheap sponges you can throw away. Alternatively, if you do not like the idea of throwing sponges away, you can use old clothes as rags, then wash them on high heat with an effective detergent.
– Pay attention to the showerheads
You can purchase products that can be used to disinfect showerheads and remove scale. It is also highly recommended that you turn on the taps and showers for a few minutes each week, especially those that are rarely used.
– Other best practices
Make sure that you close the lid of the toilet each time you flush it.
Teach each member of your household to wash their hands after using the bathroom.
When cleaning the bathroom, start with the sink first and the toilet bowl last.