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Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

How Often Should I Clean These 15 Things in My Bathroom?

You’ll never look at your hand towels the same way after reading this.

Cleaning the bathroom: the common household chore that we all too often ignore. Admit it — you’ve been known to push your scrubbing spree back by a day or two, or even three, maybe skip a week here or there. It happens, because why clean when you can do almost anything else?

But guess what: Your bathroom really needs to be cleaned at least once a week. Why? Well, everyone who enters your washroom leaves behind a unique germ passport. If you’re thinking, Gross, what’s that? — it’s their very own microbe goody bag that spreads throughout your teeth-brushing, face-washing, towel-drying space, and it can take up residence as staph in your tub.

So to avoid total lavatory germ-ageddon, we spoke with microbiologists Philip M. Tierno, PhD, and Charles Gerba, PhD, to get the dirt on, well, dirt. How often should you be cleaning certain items? What happens when you don’t? The truth of the matter is that you’ll most likely survive. “Your body has a natural immunity and normal flora that will compete with any intrusive organism,” Tierno says. “But practicing good personal hygiene is a must.”

And since we can’t live in a bubble, it’s easier to decrease the likelihood of getting sick by frequently washing your hands and home space. To avoid another dry cough that lasts for weeks, we’ve created this handy schedule for properly scrub-a-dub-dubbing your bathroom.

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Bathtub and Shower Curtain

Bath Tub and Shower Curtain
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

Clean 1x Week / Replace Every 3 Months
Remember that staph we mentioned? If your tub isn’t scrubbed weekly, a biofilm can form on its walls, so consider a mechanical brush the next time you get to work. Gerba recommends using bleach as the most effective cleaning agent in the shower and tub area. Change your shower curtain quarterly, because most mold is likely to build up from leftover shower moisture. “Mold can be allergenic,” Gerba says. So if you’re noticing some weird sneezing fits or headaches, take a peek at your shower curtain.

Bath Mat

Bathmat
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Clean 1x Week / Replace Every 3 Months
What happens when you step out of the shower and onto that uber-plush bath mat you bought? Unfortunately, bath mats can be considered areas of high traffic if numerous people are using one bathroom. Much like shower curtains, they should be replaced quarterly and washed weekly. Since the material of most bath mats is thick, it’s important to make sure they dry completely after use. “Desiccation kills organisms and prevents their growth,” Tierno says. Translation: Letting things properly air-dry is the way to go.

Toilet 

Toilet
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

Clean 1x Week
You’re going to need to take a seat before you hear this. “There’s generally more fecal matter found on your kitchen’s cutting board than your toilet seat,” Gerba says. If that makes you want to vom, maybe you should deep-clean your cutting board ASAP. But take solace in the fact that if you’re cleaning your toilet once a week, you’re doing okay. However, Gerba advises to always take a brush to the inside of the bowl after someone gets sick (code for “has diarrhea”), even if you just cleaned it yesterday.

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Sink / Faucet and Knobs

Sink, Faucet, and Knobs
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

Clean 1x Week / Clean Daily
Shocking: The place where you wash your hands may not be so clean after all. While the sink could use a good scrub weekly, faucet spouts and knobs should be wiped down much more frequently, especially with booger-monster children running around. The more people touching the knobs, the easier it becomes for germs to build up — and what someone else leaves behind may be harmless to them but could be harmful to you.

Towels

Towels
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

Wash Every 3 or 4 Days
How often do you change your towels? Most likely not often enough. We’re sorry to report that towels are a breeding ground for bacteria, especially when they aren’t hung to dry properly or washed often. If they stay wet and are located close to your toilet, it’s very likely they have fecal matter resting comfortably in their grooves. And just in case you really want to be kept up at night, Gerba told us that you probably get more fecal bacteria on your face by drying it with a towel than if you were to stick your head inside a toilet and flush. Sweet dreams.

Toothbrush and Holder

Toothbrush and Holder
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

Replace Every 3 Months / Clean 1x Week
If the info above didn’t give you the creepy crawlies, then some insight into your toothbrush definitely will. We mentioned the likelihood of your towels getting sprayed when you flush, but your toothbrush might be getting a spritz as well. That’s right: If it’s perched close to your toilet, there could be fecal matter present on your toothbrush too. Tierno suggests putting it inside your medicine cabinet so it can air out (remember, drying is your friend!) and stay shielded from any flushing. We suggest changing your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three months and washing out its holder every week.

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Mirror and Medicine Cabinet

Mirror and Medicine Cabinet
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

Clean 1x Week
Finally, a moment of relief! Of all the places in your bathroom, the mirror and medicine cabinet are two areas you don’t really need to worry about. Should they be wiped down weekly along with the rest of the space? Yes! But neither Tierno nor Gerba expressed high concern for these two places. Though if you do have a significant number of people using the same bathroom (think large families), you should be wiping down these surfaces more regularly to avoid contamination.

Floors and Walls

Floors and Walls
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

Clean 1x Week
These areas feel like the basics, but don’t forget about them! They should always be included in your weekly deep-clean, so we suggest using a disinfectant wipe on the areas of your walls that are touched by people and moisture and a mop on your floor. If you’ve got a whole lot of tile going on, you can also hit these areas with some bleach.

Light Switches and Door Knobs

Light Switches and Door Knobs
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

Clean 1x Day
Think of it this way: You probably touch the light switch and doorknob every time you enter and exit your water closet. If you live alone, it’s likely your light switches and doorknobs aren’t as bad as you’d guess. But again, if you live with multiple people and have kiddos, we suggest wiping these areas down every day. If there’s a possibility that someone in your home isn’t washing their hands after using the restroom, you definitely don’t want to be grabbing that doorknob afterward. Remember: Proper hygiene can go a loooong way, especially in the bathroom.

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Every product covered here is independently selected by opinionated humans. But so you know, buying stuff through our links may earn us a small share of the sale or other compensation.

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