As a collegiette who’s constantly kept busy with responsibilities, when would you have the time to scrutinize your bathroom routine? You wash yourself, brush your teeth and you’re clean -- right? Well, maybe. We rounded up a couple of experts and found there are definitely a few things you might want to rethink about your bathroom routine. If you’re an offender of any of these five common mistakes, you’re probably not being as clean, sanitary and safe as you think (yikes!).
1. Washing with a loofah
Loofahs are great – they come in fun colors, create a rich lather and exfoliate your skin. But are they really getting you clean? Depending on where you store your loofah, they might be doing more harm than good. Dr. Cynthia Bailey, a dermatologist based in Sebastopol, California, explains some of the problems with loofahs. "Loofahs are natural sponges and very porous," Bailey says. "The more porous the item, the slower it will dry." Since most loofahs are either stored in the shower or stuffed inside a caddy, they aren't left in the best environment to completely dry in between each use. "Molds, fungi and bacteria will grow on loofahs and shower sponges that stay damp – guaranteed! It is essential to dry all bath and shower accessories that touch your skin between uses," Bailey says.
Think about it – if your loofah is stuffed at the bottom of your shower caddy, it’s left damp and bunched up, providing the perfect breeding ground for mold and other bacteria. If you leave yours hanging up in a shower, it’s kept in a humid area that doesn’t allow for proper drying, especially in the case that you share that shower with others. If you want to avoid turning your loofah into a petri dish, it's recommended that you take extra care with rinsing and drying it. "Be certain to rinse all accessories well, place them where they will dry quickly and entirely between usages and discard them when they become so worn or layered with product," Bailey says. Your body will thank you!
2. Not drying and cleaning your washcloth properly
If you’re more of the washcloth type, or like to add them to your morning and nightly routine, there still can be some risks that come with not drying them properly. Just as a damp loofah poses risk for mold, a washcloth that stays damp can have the same end result. Whether you use washcloths during your skincare routine or in the shower, you'll also want to make sure that you're washing them properly in addition to drying them entirely between uses. "Bleaching is a good addition to laundering towels, washcloths and other personal care items that may stay damp and harbor pathogenic microbes," Bailey says. If you're a frequent washcloth user and don't use bleach, it might be a good addition to your laundry routine!
3. Sharing makeup and other face products
Maybe you lost your favorite tube of mascara, and your friend offers you hers. Maybe your roomie has the most gorgeous shade of lipstick, and you want to borrow it for a night out. We've all been there! As tempting as sharing makeup with your friends may be, it's not the safest idea when it comes to your health, unfortunately. "All products that touch your skin will pick up skin germs," Bailey says. "25 percent of the entire population carry staph aureus on their skin, around their nose, in skin folds such as armpits and along eyelids." Are you thinking twice about sharing that tube of mascara now? "This bacteria is the same one that can cause skin infections such as impetigo, sties and shaving pimples," Bailey says. "This bacteria can live harmlessly on some people (called colonization) and cause infections in others. The herpes simplex virus is another virus that is contagious, common and a potential infection you can get from sharing products, especially lip products."
No matter how gorgeous that shade of lipstick is, or how much you need mascara, you'll be better off not sharing! Just ask Alice Higginbotham, a junior at Northern Illinois University. "I have really sensitive skin," Alice says. "I've shared my mascara with someone and then when I used it again, my eyelids got super puffy, like an allergic reaction. I don't share eye makeup like that anymore!" Sharing makeup is not the safest, most sanitary thing to do, so save yourself from learning the hard way!
4. Borrowing someone's razor
Desperate times call for desperate measures, but if there's one thing that you really shouldn't borrow from a friend, it's a razor. "Razors cause micro abrasions in skin when used for shaving," Bailey says. "In addition to picking up the skin bacteria, staph aureus and candida yeast, there is the theoretical consideration of spreading germs that can reside in the blood. Just don't ever do it!" Bailey warns. In the event that you run out of razor heads or forget to bring one along on a trip, embrace the stubble or get yourself a new razor!
5. Keeping your toothbrush near the toilet
Pamela Goecke, a dental hygienist from Illinois, has some very alarming information about toothbrushes that are kept out on the sink near a toilet. “When you flush the toilet with the lid open, the spray from the flush can leave e coli and staph bacteria on and around the brush, making you sick,” Goecke says. "The safest thing to do is to shut your toilet lid before flushing, and keep your toothbrush away from the toilet." After you finish trying not to gag, please go make sure that your toothbrush is stored somewhere safe and far, far away from your toilet, like in a medicine cabinet or a drawer.
Mold, staph aureus and e coli, oh my! No matter how safe and clean you think you may be, it doesn’t hurt to double check your bathroom habits and make some changes where they are necessary!