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June 18, 2018  |  Login
Preemptive Practices for Clean Bathrooms
By Elizabeth B. Goldsmith PhD, Betsy Sheldon
You can avert, postpone, or minimize major cleanup by incorporating some healthy bathroom habits. The bonus? Changing some of your most basic hygiene practices can go a long way in reducing germs and other unwelcome problems.

Close the lid on toilet spray. I'm not talking about the gender war between "seat up or seat down," but keeping the bowl covered - most especially before you flush. Shut the lid and then flush. Thus, whatever is in there stays there (kind of like Vegas). Some toilets have a powerful force. Even if you can't see any spray, you can trust that those bacteria are flying and landing in the area, on the cabinet next to the toilet and perhaps even on the sink ledge where your toothbrush sits.

Diving into the No-Flush Policy Debate

Understanding that the toilet is the home's biggest water hog, is it responsible to flush after every visit? What a dilemma for a person who wants to be clean and green. Fact is, leaving an unflushed toilet - even if only fluid waste - allows time for bacteria-breeding, but every flush consumes as many as 7 gallons of water in older toilets.

If you're living with older-model toilets or in an area that suffers from water shortage, "let it mellow," as they say. But only for a few hours: Or from your last visit at night until your wakeup stop in the morning. If only one or two members of the household are using a particular john, a "reduced-flush" policy is probably manageable. Several household members using a single toilet, on the other hand, may require more frequent flushing.

And if you're flushing less often, you want to clean more frequently. One tip is to keep a gallon of white distilled vinegar under the sink and pour a quarter-cup or so into the bowl or tank every other day.

Spending 20 Seconds on Your Hands

In every restaurant restroom, you find a sign that admonishes all employees to wash their hands before returning to their work. Wouldn't you be horrified if you saw your waitperson or chef coming out of a stall and marching right back into the dining room or kitchen?

Research continues to prove how effective soap and warm water are at killing disease-carrying germs and reducing illness. Hand-washing is especially important in the bathroom.

Reduce opportunities to spread germs on surfaces from dirty hands: Put a waste can with a pedal opener in the bathroom. You can also install pedal-operated water faucets if you wanted to take it to the next level.

Running the Fan

Moisture from showering and washing lingers in the air, promoting the growth of mold and mildew over time. A musty odor is the least of the problems: Some forms of mold can aggravate and cause allergies, and they can spread throughout the infrastructure and framework of the home. In some rare cases, homeowners have had to tear out large areas of the house.

Signs of humidity problems are easy to see or smell. You may spot moisture stains on walls and ceilings, discover the gray tentacles of mildew spreading in your shower grout, or find whitish, powdery mildew on fabric or furniture in or near your bathroom.

A working bathroom fan does a lot more than remove unpleasant odors; it provides needed ventilation and air circulation in a wet, enclosed space. Turn it on as soon as you turn on the shower and keep it on at least ten minutes after you've finished your shower. If the bathroom is an interior room with no windows for air circulation, run it longer.

Other tips for reducing humidity and risk of mildew and mold:

  • Leave the shower curtain or door open after your shower so that the bath area can dry. more



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