Heads up, you're probably covered in bacteria and fecal matter right now.
Pretty much all aspects of your daily routine tend to be disgusting and your hygiene habits are way worse than you think. Although this list doesn't cover absolutely every way your life is a fungal-fueled fiasco, these are some of the more pressing habits you should probably address as soon as humanly possible.
You'll probably want to do a lot of this after reading.
Just remember, you've survived this long without freaking out, but you should still know...
Antibacterial soaps like Dial Complete contain a chemical called triclosan that has been shown to alter hormone levels when tested on animals. The New York Times has reported on the FDA's ongoing investigation on triclosan's safety, but the results have remained inconclusive. Triclosan is in about 75 percent of antibacterial soaps and also can be found in household cleaning products and some toothpastes. Regardless of the potential effects of triclosan, the FDA has concluded that antibacterial soap is no more effective than regular soap at preventing illness.
Research performed by Dr. Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, concluded that doing just one load of underwear in the washing machine can transmit 100 million E. coli into the water, which can then transfer over to the next load. "There's about a tenth of a gram of poop in the average pair of underwear," Gerba told ABC. To reduce the problem, it is suggested you run the washer at 150 degrees and transfer laundry to the dryer as quickly as possible, since bacteria multiply in damp areas. None of this may help, however. Yale students learned in the beginning of the 2013 school year when they had a problem of students defecating into the laundry machines. At any rate, we're all wearing at little bit of feces. It's unavoidable.
Bathroom floors can be home to 2 million bacteria per square inch, while more than 500,000 bacteria per square inch can live in just the kitchen sink's drain alone. Eileen Abruzzo, the director of infection control at Long Island College Hospital of Brooklyn, New York, claims the kitchen sink is far less sanitary than your toilet bowl, as those plates and pots left to soak are breeding grounds for bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. The Harvard School of Public Health unfortunately had similar findings.
MythBusters' Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage confirmed this urban legend, finding that flushing open toilets causes fecal matter to fly into the air. And yep, your toothbrush is covered in fecal germs. Dr. Gerba told The Atlantic that the spewing effect is, "like the Fourth of July." With the lid open, the particles will float as far as 6 feet away so make sure at the very least that top is down and your toothbrush is out of range or covered.
Dr. Rodney Lee Thompson, a hospital epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic, concluded after various studies that paper towels are actually more hygienic than hand dryers, while also using less energy to make than what is needed to produce the air in the dryer. When testing the effectiveness between paper towels, a warm air dryer and a jet dryer, the University of Westminster also found that paper towels are the cleanest way to go. Much of the benefit comes from how quickly paper towels get your hands dry, as leaving them wet makes them bacteria magnets. Paper towels have been found to take about 15 seconds while air dryers take 45 seconds, too long considering people usually only spend 13 to 17 seconds drying off.
Researchers of the UCL Eastman Dental Institute found that 67 percent of tested retainer-wearers had yeasts living on their retainers, while around 50 percent had bacterias including MRSA, a bacteria that can lead to dangerous infections. Retainers that aren't properly cleaned have a pretty good chance of fostering these harmful microbes. This said, the problem mostly arises from people who keep their retainers in a case and barely rinse them with water before popping them back in at night. Just clean your retainers properly and you should be fine.
“The five-second rule probably should become the zero-second rule,” Dr. Roy M. Gulick, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Weill Cornell Medical College, told The New York Times. According to a study published by Clemson University researchers in The Journal of Applied Microbiology, 99 percent of bacteria is transferred immediately when food hits the floor. Some floors might be more dangerous than others, as dry, hard surfaces have a much harder time harboring bacteria than wet or carpeted areas. The type of food also matters. Those with higher salt and sugar contents seem to pick up germs much more slowly.
Researchers found 2,368 unique species of bacteria after swabbing just 60 belly buttons, according to a report in The Atlantic. Of these, 1,458 may have been completely new to science. In this same study, one man's belly button was found to be home to bacteria previously known to exist only in the soil of Japan. Scrub those navels...
It's generally only necessary to use acne cleansers that have either been recommended by a doctor, or are "gentle, nonabrasive and alcohol-free," because the side effects of others can be pretty bad and potentially make your acne worse. Accutane alone has a long list of side effects. As Cracked reported, most acne problems actually occur under the skin, so the medications have to be pretty specialized to actually be effective. Common acne soaps can also strip away too much oil, which tends to cause more acne. The American Academy of Dermatology stresses that most people should avoid medications that strip your natural skin moisture away.
Apparently our over-shampooing habit is all The New York Times' fault. In 1908 they published a popular column encouraging woman to wash their hair more. But Michelle Hanjani, a dermatologist at Columbia University, has found that, "If you wash your hair every day, you're removing the sebum [natural hair oils]. Then the oil glands compensate by producing more oil." She recommends washing your hair only 2 or 3 times a week. If you do end up feeling the need to still wash your hair every day just make sure it's a gentle shampoo -- and don't rinse and repeat!
Out of the nearly 40 million Americans who wear contacts, research has shown that virtually nobody is taking proper care of their lenses. It's fairly easy to get biofilm on the contacts, which is a thin layer of bacteria. Rinsing with tap water causes the lenses to soak up the non-sterile water. Re-using contact solution day to day will cause the contacts to be contaminated with germs and greatly increases the risk of eye infection. Also, make sure to replace those cases often and remove all residue liquid after rinsing, because once again bacteria builds up on wet surfaces.