11 Mistakes You're Making In The Bathroom (And How To Fix Them)

Your bathroom is where you go to get clean, right? Don’t answer that just yet...

In the spirit of better bathroom experiences, we partnered with Cottonelle to bring you this list of common lavatory lapses that are impacting your everyday life in grosser ways than you can imagine. The good news is that there are some dirty little tricks that can help you clean up your act, stat.

Keeping Your Toothbrush Too Close To Your Toilet...
Chiangkunta via Getty Images
...within six feet to be exact. An article from the Harvard University Gazette reports that “every time you flush, aerosolized particles from the toilet float as far as six feet away.” That means if your toothbrush is in the particles’ warpath, well, you can only imagine what happens. So, close the toilet lid before you flush and wash or replace your toothbrush regularly. But, fight your urge to cover it because a "moist environment such as a closed container is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms than the open air," according to a statement from the American Dental Association.
Reusing Your Bath Towel Too Many Times
Bad news, loathers of laundry: bacteria thrive in damp, tightly woven wet towels. When you reuse them, the bacteria can end up...well...back on you. "If you have any kind of wound, you may be infecting yourself with whatever is on the towel," says Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D., codirector of the Simmons College center for hygiene and health in a Men's Health article. She recommends using a new towel every day if you share with someone else, and more than once per week, if you're the only one using it.
Keeping Your Loofah For Too Long
Frederic Cirou via Getty Images
Don’t get too attached...natural loofahs (the kind made from a dried cucumber-like vegetable) should be tossed after three to four weeks, dermatologist Dr. Birgit Toome, M.D. told Fitness Magazine. One study even found that bacteria such as infection-causing P. aeruginosa grew exponentially after 24 hours of exposure to a loofah. Synthetic mesh puffs are more resistant to bacteria, but Dr. Toome says you should still replace them after eight weeks.
Not Washing Your Hands For Long Enough
Hand washing is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce the spread of infectious disease, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). But most of us are doing it wrong. One study from Michigan State University found 95 percent of people observed spent less than 15 seconds washing their hands. The CDC recommends you spend 20 seconds scrubbing alone. It may sound like an excessively long time, but sure beats the alternative--spending three days home in bed with the flu.
Not Trimming Your Shower Curtain Liner To Fit The Tub
Where the shower liner hits the tub and where it ripples, as a result of being too wide, are breeding grounds for mold and mildew. One simple solution: trim a few inches from the bottom and sides so it fits the tub perfectly without bunching.
Walking On Your Bathroom Floor Barefoot
Your toilet seat is the grossest place in the bathroom, right? Wrong. In one study for ABC News, the bathroom floor actually harbored the most bacteria--about 2 million per square inch, to be exact. Dr. Charles Gerba who conducted the study says that's about 200 times higher than a sanitary surface. Lesson learned: scrub your bathroom floor frequently or invest in a pair of spiffy shower shoes.
Using The Same Sponge For Everything
Goldmund Lukic via Getty
Do you use the same sponge to clean the shower, mirrors, sink and toilet? Prevent cross-contamination by organizing your sponges using a labeled mail sorter like this and of course, clean them often. A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that microwaving sponges killed 99.99999% of bacteria and dishwashing them killed 99.9998% of bacteria.
Using Toxic Chemicals To Clean
Getty Images
Let’s take a moment to think about the reason you’re actually cleaning kill infection- and illness-causing bacteria, right? Then, you’ll be surprised to know many of the cleaning products you’re using could be harmful to your health. The Environmental Working Group has published a “Hall Of Shame” list of worst-offending cleaning products, many of which are banned in other countries and have ingredients known to cause cancer, blindness and more.

Instead, make your own green cleaner using fruit! A grapefruit cut in half with salt is an effective tub scrubber and a halved lemon will make the water stains on your faucets a distant memory. Not to mention, your bathroom will smell amazing.
Going Overboard With Shampoo
Getty Images
Slowly back away from the shampoo. “Ninety-three percent of the country’s adults shampoo almost daily,” Mintel, a market research firm told The New York Times. However, we might be overdoing it. Our scalp produces natural oils that are “the ultimate hair conditioner,” dermatologist Dr. Zoe Draelos told The Los Angeles Times. Too much shampoo strips these vital oils. “Unless you have a really grimy job or an excessively oily scalp, you don't need to shampoo every day,” Dr. Draelos says.
Using Your Toilet Wrong
Getty Images
Various studies extol the benefits of squatting instead of sitting while going to the bathroom. "The ideal posture for defecation is the squatting position, with the thighs fixed upon the abdomen,” according to Bockus’s Gastroenterology, a standard medical text from 1964. A 2010 study from a group of Japanese doctors determined that subjects who squatted strained less and had less abdominal pressure. And yet another study found that subjects who squatted moved their bowels 79 seconds faster than those who didn’t. Our advice? This is probably not a trend you want to sit on.
Wiping Not Washing
Our European friends have been on to this for decades, but now, Americans are finally upgrading their bathroom routines to get a fresher clean. Using flushable cleansing clothsand toilet paper can help you give your bum the love it deserves.