Spring cleaning: Start in the bathroom

Extension Connection

Your visit to the bathroom each day might be a quick in and out, but it is also can be a "quick and dirty" visit because bacteria like to hang out long after the toilet flushes or your teeth are brushed.

Though there are actually more germs in the kitchen, plenty of bacteria call the bathroom home -- a warm, wet place that is extremely hospitable to mold, mildew and bacteria. The following places and items in a bathroom can play host to a variety of bacteria, and should be cleaned frequently:

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Hard surfaces -- Wipe down sinks, countertops, toilet seats and tub and shower walls with disinfecting cleansers or wipes. Don't forget to wipe cabinet pulls, faucet handles and doorknobs.

Toothbrushes -- To avoid sharing germs, make sure everyone uses their own toothbrush. Store brushes at least an inch apart to ensure that bristles don't touch. Replace toothbrushes regularly, at least every six months when you get your teeth cleaned, and also after an illness.

Towels, washcloths and hand towels -- Each time someone dries their face on a towel, they leave behind germs in a damp environment that encourages them to multiply. Assign everyone his or her own set of towels, and wash them regularly in hot soapy water. Also, make sure towels and washcloths are hung up to dry, instead of left wet on the carpeting where mold spores can become established. If a towel has a dirty or sour smell, it is an indication of the presence of bacteria and should be laundered. If a towel is visibly dirty, it should also be laundered.

The toilet -- Apparently each time the toilet is flushed, water vapor plus whatever is lurking in the toilet, can become airborne and land on whatever is nearby. Closing the lid before flushing will prevent you from brushing your teeth with toilet water. Wiping the toilet seat on all sides with a disinfectant wipe every few days (or more frequently if a family member has bad aim) will help to keep the bathroom cleaner.

The tub -- To keep bacteria from breeding on bath accessories or toys, let them dry in a net or basket between baths. Things that trap water, such as rubber duckies, need to be cleaned regularly with a diluted bleach solution, then rinsed and left to dry.

The shower -- Use the exhaust fan or crack open the window each time you take a shower or bath. Mold and mildew can sprout practically overnight if the bathroom is left warm and damp for several hours.

Cups -- Instead of using a communal cup in the bathroom, switch to small paper cups that can be tossed after each use. If you'd rather use non-disposable cups, give each family member his or her own plastic cup -- glass is discouraged in bathrooms -- and label or color-code it.

Be sure to wash cups often with hot soapy water.

What about public bath-rooms?

  • ost public bathrooms are cleaned on a regular basis -- maybe even more often than yours at home are. But to be on the safe side, use the paper seat covers or cover the seat with toilet paper. Flush with your shoe instead of your hand, and don't hover over the seat while flushing or you might inhale some of the spray.
  • hen you wash your hands, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the door to leave. It is amazing how many people still don't wash their hands after going to the bathroom. Ugh.

For more information on household cleaning or safety, contact Elisa at the CSU Moffat County Extension Office, 539 Barclay, 824-9180.

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