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Mothers everywhere start teaching their babies personal hygiene habits when they are still very young. Everything from brushing your teeth, taking a bath, putting on clean clothes, to washing your face was ingrained in you at a very early age.
However, as time goes on, scientists learn more and more about germs and how they work. What we thought was healthy 60 years ago (putting butter on a burn, for example) we now know doesn’t work.
This means that some of the things mommy taught you all those years ago might be doing you more harm than good.
Take a look at the 12 hygiene mistakes many people are still making today and see if any of them sound familiar to you.
1. Using Antibacterial Soaps
Over the years, some marketing genius has managed to convince Americans that regular soap and water doesn’t really kill germs and that we need antibacterial soaps. This isn’t true. Antibacterial soaps are not only unnecessary, but they are actually causing the world more harm than good. The antibacterial compound put in soaps, triclosan, truly does kill bacteria, but it also kills human cells. Triclosan interrupts our body’s natural production of hormones and has led to the increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria. Plain old soap and water kill germs, friends; you do not need triclosan to do this. Buy products that do not contain this health-damaging compound.
2. Not Flossing
OK, flossing is gross. When you don’t do it for long periods of time, your gums bleed, too. Did you know that not flossing can lead to heart disease? It seems like a strange connection, but it’s true. When you don’t floss, bacteria stays between your teeth and deep into your gums. Bacteria like to travel as much as anyone else, so they take a ride through your blood stream and end up in your heart, where they can start multiplying, and causing heart disease. They can travel other places as well. It might be gross, but flossing just once each night before bed will do your teeth, as well as your heart, a ton of good.
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Antiperspirant sounds like a good idea, and most people wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without using it, but it’s one of the worst things you can use. This personal care product works through an ingredient called aluminum chlorohydrate. This type of aluminum is absorbed directly into the blood stream through your skin, and then collects in the brain, increasing your chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. There are plenty of natural ways to stop the odor and limit the amount of perspiration. Try making your own antiperspirant; your brain will be glad you did.
Mom probably taught you that you need a bath every single day. In fact, some mothers have been known to recommend bathing twice each day. Of course, the appeal here is obvious; removing dirt, bacteria, sweat, and stinky things from the body sounds like a good idea. But what you mother didn’t know is that over-bathing actually leads to skin irritation and infection. Washing too often can lead to dry, cracked skin, which increases the chance that bacteria can enter the body, causing infections. Your skin is the natural home of about 1,000 different species of bacteria. There is a natural balance that keeps these in check, but if some of the bad guys get under your skin, so to speak, you can get a nasty staph infection simply because of too much bathing. Once a day is plenty and if you aren’t really dirty, every other day is just fine.
5. Using Your Hands to Remove Sweat
If you are a gym rat, you probably work up a good sweat. Don’t make the mistake, however, of wiping sweat off your forehead or face with your hands. The gym is not always the most sanitary place and the bacteria or viruses from a thousand hands could have touched the machine you touched. Wiping your face will only put those germs right where they have easy access to your body. Keep a small hand towel in your waistband to wipe away sweat.
6. Cloth Diapers
This is always a big dilemma. Do you save landfill space by using cloth diapers or do you keep your home cleaner by using disposable diapers? The University of Arizona conducted a study that found that washing just one load of underwear (adult underwear, not diapers) transferred as many as 100 million E. coli germs into the washing machine. These germs could then be transferred to the next load of clothes. Imagine what goes on when you wash cloth diapers. To avoid this, never wash diapers with any other clothing. Use hot water and bleach to wash, then spray the inside the washing machine with bleach or pure white vinegar and allow it to dry to kill any leftover germs.
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7. Only Using the Vacuum
Many types of viruses, including the Norwalk virus and norovirus (which causes severe digestive distress) can live for at least a month on your carpets and rugs. Vacuuming is great at picking up some types of bacteria and dirt or food particles, but vacuuming is useless against a virus. Try using a steam cleaner or a disinfecting spray on a regular basis. If you have rugs, washing them regularly in hot water to kill viruses.
8. Using Public Urinals
Gentleman, we understand. When you have to go, you have to go, but if you are using a public urinal and you are getting splashed, keep in mind that you are getting splashed by every other guy who came before you. Pretty disgusting thought, isn’t it? Experts will tell you that you should stand a little closer and aim a little lower to avoid splashing about. Don’t worry if this new position makes a little noise, that’s what you are there for, right?
9. Peeing in the Shower
Urine contains a chemical called urea, which is known to kill both bacteria and fungi. Many people mistakenly believe the old wives tale that peeing on your toes in the shower will prevent toenail fungus and prevent athlete’s feet. This isn’t true. Toenail fungus grows under and inside the nails, not on top of them. Athlete’s foot is due to poor hygiene and wet feet; peeing on your feet will not cure this condition either. Feel free to pee in the shower if you like, but don’t do so thinking that it will actually accomplish anything.
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10. Sharing Personal Care Items
Although this seems like a no-brainer, you might be surprised how many people have no worries about sharing things like combs, hair brushes, toothbrushes, nail clippers, and other personal care items with other family members or close friends. No matter how clean or safe you might think a person is, there are all kinds of things that can be easily transferred from one person to another. Play it safe; just don’t do it.
11. Using Public Remote Controls
The University of Arizona is at it again. They conducted a study about remote controls and found that television remotes are one of the worst carriers of bacteria, far worse than toilet handles! Believe it or not, hospital remotes were found to be the germiest. Clean any public remote control before you touch it, including in hotels and hospital rooms.
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12. Don’t Be Too Clean
As we mentioned, over-bathing is just as bad as not bathing enough, but in one study involving more than 11,000 kids, it was found that having an overly clean environment increased their risk of developing asthma and eczema. Moms, the body needs to develop its immune system by coming into contact with some germs! Don’t go nuts and spray Lysol on every surface your child touches. A little bit of dirt is a good thing.