When you consider the health hazards in your home, we all know that the bathroom can be filled with microbes and germs from, erm, human waste and other unsavory bits of detritus. Bacteria and other baddies can hide out in unassuming places. And while you may be diligent about washing your hands and keeping certain surfaces sparkling, there may be other areas that you're forgetting to clean. We've rounded up common problem areas, plus how to correct them to create a healthy and happy bathroom.
01 of 09
The bathroom is the perfect incubator for the growth of mold and mildew. There is plenty of humidity and body soil to encourage growth. Mildew is a mold and while unsightly, it is usually not extremely toxic. It does spread quickly on surfaces like fabrics, grout, caulk, and painted wood surfaces through spores. So, if it appears, it is best to treat quickly.
The best way to reduce the growth of mildew and more toxic molds is to decrease humidity by increasing air circulation. The bathroom vent should be run for at least 20 minutes after a steamy shower. Allow towels and shower curtains to dry completely and as quickly as possible after every use.
02 of 09
Light Switches, Door Knobs, and Faucet Handles
Not everyone is diligent about washing hands after each trip to the bathroom. And hands can be pretty dirty when you simply open the door and switch on a light when you enter the room.
Door knobs, light switches, and faucet handles can be covered with body soil, mold, yeast, and bacteria like E. coli and Listeria that can make family members very ill.
Keep some disinfecting wipes on hand and give everything a quick wipe down at least once per day. Do it more often if anyone is suffering from a cold or virus.
03 of 09
Faulty Bathroom Fan
A bathroom fan or vent is essential for removing the excess moisture that accumulates after a steamy bath or shower. But is it working correctly?
If the fan is not vented properly to an outside exhaust system or the interior is covered with dust and mold, it may be recirculating dangerous particles.
04 of 09
Poor Water Quality
Hard water, or water that contains high levels of minerals like calcium and lime, can cause unsightly spotting on bathroom fixtures. But if water contains certain chemicals or bacteria, then it can be harmful to your well-being.
Water testing kits are available through local health departments or purchased online to see if you have good water quality.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
In 2009, esearchers found that showerheads can be home to microbes like Legionella pneumophila and Mycobacterium avium. These are particularly harmful to those with lung disease or weakened immune systems.
06 of 09
Shower Brushes, Scrubs, and Loofahs
Shower brushes, scrubbing poofs, and loofahs are great for removing body soil and dead skin cells. They are also great at harboring all that soil, yeast, and bacteria so that the next time you use them you are spreading it all back onto your skin.
After every use, the scrubbing tools should be washed with soap and rinsed well. Remove them from the shower and hang to air dry where there is good air circulation. Toss them in the washer often for a thorough cleaning.
07 of 09
Hand and Bath Towels
Having to do less laundry is always a good thing and bath towels can often be used more than once if they are allowed to dry completely between uses. The problems begin if bath and hand towels, bath mats, and beach towels are shared or not washed often enough.
Hand towels should be changed daily and disinfected properly, especially if someone in the household is ill.
08 of 09
Makeup Brushes and Grooming Tools
Makeup brushes, facial brushes, eyelash curlers, tweezers, and manicure and pedicure tools all come into direct contact with our skin and body fluids and can easily become contaminated with bacteria.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
If you have a home built before 1972 with vinyl tile flooring, it may contain asbestos. The biggest threat comes if the flooring is cracked or if you decide to renovate and remove the flooring. Asbestos is a known carcinogen.
Almost all vinyl emits volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), but increasing ventilation during installation and for a few weeks when it is done will help them dissipate. There are vinyl flooring options that are manufactured to meet strict standards for indoor air quality. You can help offset problems by selecting a low VOC vinyl and adhesive and using a qualified installer.
Basic Facts About Mold and Dampness. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms | E. Coli. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Water Treatment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Feazel LM, Baumgartner LK, Peterson KL, Frank DN, Harris JK, Pace NR. Opportunistic Pathogens Enriched in Showerhead Biofilms. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009;106(38):16393-16399. doi:10.1073/pnas.0908446106
Whiley H, Keegan A, Fallowfield H, Bentham R. Detection of Legionella, L. Detection of Legionella, L. Pneumophila and Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC) Along Potable Water Distribution Pipelines. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(7):7393-7405. Published 2014 Jul 18. doi:10.3390/ijerph110707393
Asbestos. National Institute of Health.