Since childhood, most of us have been taught about personal hygiene habits.
Everything from brushing your teeth, taking a bath, putting on clean clothes to washing your hands before eating are taught at a very early age. These habits become a routine part of life. But it doesn’t end there.
In fact, adults continue to become even more hygiene-conscious as a step toward healthy and disease-free living.
However, when it comes to personal hygiene, many of us are making some common hygiene mistakes and don’t even realize it. No matter how clean you think you might be, a few noteworthy habits might be doing more harm than good.
Here are 10 personal hygiene mistakes you need to stop making.
1. Not Covering Your Mouth When Coughing or Sneezing
It is very important to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze to prevent germs from spreading everywhere. But sadly, a surprising percentage of people do not follow this hygienic habit.
Approximately one out of every four people observed in a public setting failed to cover their mouth when they coughed or sneezed, according to a 2010 survey by the American Society for Microbiology. Even more concerning, less than 5 percent of people covered their mouth using methods recommended by public health officials.
This observational survey was done in three public areas – a train station, a hospital and a shopping mall– in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics shows that the smaller cough and sneeze droplets travel farther distances – 5 to 200 times farther.
Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing is not just good manners. It is also important to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases.
It is best to stay home when you are sick, so that your germs don’t spread to other people. But if you must go out, cover your mouth with a handkerchief or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
2. Not Washing Your Hands after Using the Washroom
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Backention, handwashing is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting yourself or others sick. But many people skip handwashing, especially after using the restroom.
Even people who are in the habit of washing their hands may not be doing it properly.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Environmental Health analyzed 3,749 people’s post-toilet patterns and found that 10 percent skipped the sink, 33 percent forewent the soap and nearly everyone else didn’t lather long enough.
Whether you are using the toilet at home or in a public place, wash your hands with soap and water. However, it is better not to use antibacterial soaps as they are actually causing the world more harm than good.
3. Not Taking Care of Your Toothbrush
When it comes to oral health, how you take care of your toothbrush also matters a lot.
Most of us have the habit of rinsing our toothbrush after each use, but after that we put it away in the bathroom cabinet when it is still wet. It’s a common hygiene mistake you may also be making.
A damp toothbrush is a breeding ground for bacteria, and the next time you use it, you are allowing more bacteria to enter your mouth. This in turn can cause bad breath and gum disease.
After rinsing your toothbrush, shake off the extra water and store it in a brush holder with a cap that allows air in. From time to time, dry out your toothbrush in the sun for a few minutes.
At the same time, do not keep your toothbrush within six feet of the toilet. Remember there can be more bacteria on your toothbrush than on your toilet seat. So, store your toothbrush accordingly.
Always replace your toothbrush every three months.
4. Using Cotton Swabs to Clean Earwax
You have been taught since childhood to use cotton swabs to clean your ears regularly so that there is no build up of wax. Well, as it turns out, wax isn’t actually all that bad for you.
The wax present in your ear prevents ear infections and also stops foreign particles like dust and even small insects from entering the ear canal.
Plus, using cotton swab can be harmful. It pushes the wax deeper into the ear canal and damages the ear drum. If you do have an excessive accumulation of wax in your ear, get it removed by a doctor.
5. Avoiding Post-Gym Showering
Exercising is a great way to be fit and get in shape. If you exercise at home or go to the gym for an intense workout, you are following a good habit.
But, if you are not taking a shower after a hard workout session, then you are making a big mistake.
There are many benefits of a post-workout shower. First of all, it will make your body smell nice by getting rid of the sweat.
Secondly, it will take care of the perspiration left behind on your skin that allows bacteria to multiply, which in turn can lead to rashes and breakouts.
Plus, a warm shower right after working out will encourage smooth blood flow throughout the entire body, giving your skin a healthy glow and alleviating muscle soreness.
So, no matter how late you are after your workout session, go for a quick shower. It is recommended to use warm water and soap.
If showering isn’t an option, at least change out of your exercise clothes as soon as possible.
6. Excessively Bathing and Handwashing
Whether it is bathing or handwashing, it can do more harm than good when done excessively.
Taking a bath or shower daily is good for removing dirt, bacteria and sweat from your body. But overdoing it can lead to skin irritation and infection.
In fact, bathing too often is just as bad as not bathing enough.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows that early exposure to bacteria and certain allergens may have a protective effect on building a strong immunity. The study reports that having an overly clean environment increases the risk of developing asthma and eczema.
Similarly, excessive handwashing can lead to dry, cracked skin, which increases the chance that bacteria can enter the body and cause an infection.
7. Not Cleaning Commonly Used Household Objects
No matter how much you keep your house clean and tidy, if you are not cleaning commonly used household items like remote controls, doorknobs, keyboards, smartphones, laptops and showerheads, you are not doing your job properly.
A 2013 project at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom illustrated very well how mobile phones are a breeding ground for germs.
Make sure to frequently clean these common household items to get rid of the gross bacteria and other germs living on the surface. It’s a major step toward protecting yourself and your family members against infection.
Also, never take your gadgets with you to the bathroom. Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling your devices, or at least use a good hand sanitizer.
8. Improperly Disposing of Feminine Hygiene Products
Adults should know that not everything was meant to be flushed down the toilet. This is true with sanitary napkins and tampons. But this is another hygiene mistake that many females commit.
No matter how toilet-safe a product claims to be, stop flushing your tampons and sanitary napkins for they might completely clog the drainage system.
Just dumping your used and soiled pad into a trash can isn’t very hygienic either. This can become a breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria, which can infect humans and pets. Also, it will leave behind a foul smell.
Take a moment to wrap your pad or tampon with a sheet of newspaper or any other paper before disposing it of in the trash. Also make sure that the trash can you use gets emptied on a daily basis.
9. Not Flossing Your Teeth
Flossing seems like an annoying job, but it is an important oral hygiene step that you must not skip.
If you do not floss once a day, it can lead to growth of bacteria inside your mouth and eventually cause problems with your gums. Even if you brush thoroughly, flossing helps keep your gums healthy by getting rid of bacteria beneath the gumline and preventing gingivitis, bad breath and gum recession.
In fact, by not flossing daily, you even increase your risk of suffering from heart disease.
While flossing once and brushing twice a day is ideal for oral hygiene, doing more than this can harm your teeth and gums. It can lead to recession of the gumline as well as accelerated erosion of the dental enamel protecting your teeth. So, it is advisable not to overdo it.
The trick to good oral health is to brush your teeth gently for 2 minutes, two or three times a day, and floss just once daily.
10. Exfoliating Your Skin Too Often
Exfoliation is a great way to remove the skin’s dead cells and reveal the glowing, living cellular layer beneath. But when done in excess, you are committing a big mistake for your skin’s health.
Exfoliating on a daily basis can irritate sensitive and acne-prone skin by stripping it of its natural oils, which can cause breakouts. Also, it can make your face look redder by causing tiny tears in the skin.
Make sure to exfoliate only two or three times a week if you have normal or combination skin, and only once a week for sensitive skin.
When exfoliating, be sure to be gentle. Always remember that you are handling your face and not some dirty floor. After exfoliating, you may apply some moisturizer, depending upon your skin type.
Always balance your cleansers and exfoliating products with a nourishing moisturizer to put your best face forward.
Additional Hygiene Mistakes:
- Not using a tongue scraper to clean your tongue.
- Sharing lens solution with others.
- Leaving your makeup brushes in a dirty makeup bag.
- Sharing toenail clippers with others.
- Only vacuuming your carpet and never getting it cleaned professionally or with a steam cleaner.
- Using cloth diapers and washing them in the washing machine with regular clothes.
- Using your hands to wipe away sweat is bad, as it ends up transferring more germs to your hands.