Of all the rooms in a family home, it’s the bathroom that gets the most daily punishment. Even a busy kitchen doesn’t have to deal with the same level of dirt, chemicals and humidity. So it stands to reason that this room is filled with things that might be harmful to your health.
If you have people in your home that suffer from allergies or immune conditions, the consequences of a dirty bathroom can be serious. Unfortunately, many of the dangers lurking in your bathroom right now are invisible to the naked eye.
You might clean your bathroom daily, and it might look spotless. But how do you know that it’s sanitary and free from potentially harmful bugs and general nastiness? Cleaning regularly isn’t enough; you have to clean smartly.
To help you keep your bathroom clean and free from potentially harmful substances, we’ve compiled a list of the top eight ways your bathroom might be harming your health.
1. Regularly touched surfaces
Not everyone will wash their hands every time they clean the bathroom or use the toilet. As a result, bacteria may lurk on door handles, switches and taps. In fact, these potentially harmful bacteria could be present on any surface that is touched regularly.
Among the many potentially harmful substances that live on bathroom surfaces include E.Coli, listeria, mould and yeast.
Thankfully, the solution is a simple one. Wipe down these regularly touched surfaces with antibacterial wipes or your favourite cleaner — at least once a week.
Pay special attention to your taps and toilet handle — both of which the person must touch before washing their hands.
2. Defective extraction fan
A bathroom extraction fan is essential in the fight against mould growth. It sucks moist air out of the room and sends it outside. If your fan isn’t working properly, more of the moisture in the air will settle on the surfaces in your bathroom. And that’s a recipe for mould and mildew.
Fans also collect dust and dirt. If they’re not kept clean and clear, they can send a lot of that dirt and dust back into your bathroom. This makes keeping your bathroom clean a lot more difficult. But more importantly, it makes life a misery for people with allergies and respiratory conditions.
3. A dirty showerhead
The average showerhead contains more nastiness than you might imagine. And it’s not always immediately obvious. One issue that can affect the operation of your shower is the accumulation of soap scum. Over time, this hardens along with any mineral deposits from the water.
Thankfully, there’s a great hack that addresses this issue. Fill a sandwich bag with white vinegar and lemon juice, and tie the bag over the showerhead with elastic bands. Leave it overnight, and a quick wipe-down should remove any soap scum and limescale deposits with ease.
The average bathroom is the perfect place for fast and persistent mould growth. Hot and steamy conditions accelerate growth. And a lack of ventilation exacerbates the issue. Mould can accumulate on almost any surface, but fabric, caulk and grout are at a heightened risk.
Mould and mildew don’t just look bad, they can cause problems for people with respiratory problems. This is why keeping these accumulations to a minimum is essential.
There are some powerful mould removal agents on the market, but many of them are caustic. You should find that steam, vinegar and baking soda perform just as well. But the best way to tackle the problem is to think about prevention. Keep air flowing into your bathroom by opening windows and doors immediately after taking a bath or a shower. And allow towels, shower curtains and mats to dry fully after every use.
Depending on where you live, hard deposits in your water might be causing unsightly stains and limescale accumulations. These are largely cosmetic issues. But if your water contains bacteria or chemicals, your health might be at risk.
If you live in an older property, check that your pipes aren’t made from lead. If they are, lead might be getting into your water supply. The chlorine and fluoride added to some water supplies can also cause health problems. Use a water testing kit to check the water in your bathroom.
6. Bathroom accessories
We all rely on a range of bathroom accessories for bathing and cleaning. But if these items aren’t kept clean and sanitary, they can do more harm than good. Hand towels, sponges and loofahs are just a few of the accessories that need to be cleaned regularly. These particular items attract bacteria quickly. And every time you use them, you’re spreading germs around the bathroom.
Every time you use your bathroom accessories, clean them thoroughly with some hot, soapy water. And leave them to air dry. Better still, throw them in your dishwasher.
7. Cleaning products
The bathroom is often the dirtiest room in a family home. This is why regular preventative cleaning is essential. But don’t fall into the trap of relying too heavily on expensive cleaning agents.
Bathrooms are often small, damp and warm rooms that don’t usually benefit from great ventilation. If you introduce caustic chemicals to the space, the air quality can deteriorate quickly — exacerbating respiratory issues. Indeed, certain chemicals combine to create potentially fatal toxic gases. For example, ammonia and chlorine bleach combine to create a highly dangerous gas.
Wherever possible, stick to tried-and-tested natural cleaning products. White vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda work wonders in most bathrooms. Another useful tool is a handheld steam cleaner. Superheated steam not only cuts through dirt, grime, grease and mould, but it also kills the vast majority of bacteria.
8. Air fresheners
Air fresheners aren’t a solution to bad odours in a bathroom — they merely mask the problem. Deal with the root of the problem first. Bacteria is nearly always the cause of bad smells, so cleaning should be your first job.
If you want your bathroom to smell nice, stick to natural air fresheners. Citrus juice, pine and essential oils smell fantastic but don’t contain potentially harmful substances such as dichlorobenzene.
Keeping a bathroom clean, tidy and sanitary isn’t rocket science — but it does involve a lot of work. But if you have the right tools and cleaning agents for the job, your job becomes a great deal easier.