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Your Bath Time is Actually a Filthy Habit

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Jessica
05.12.14

There are two camps when it comes to baths: You either love ‘em and think they’re incredibly relaxing or… you can’t imagine soaking in your own filth.

That’s right, we said filth. It turns out Team “I Hate Baths” has science on their side. In fact, you’re more likely to pick up germs from a soak in the bathtub than from touching your trash can. (Ew!) So, just how much bacteria is crawling in the bath?

Brace yourself, bath lovers: there are about 200,000 bacteria per square inch in your tub.

That’s right, according to the Global Hygiene Council, your bathtub is full of all sorts of bacteria, including E. coli and streptococcus, as well as staph aureus (commonly know as staph infection).

To make matters worse, because tubs rarely dry out completely, they become breeding grounds for unseen bacteria even when you’re not in the tub. The situation is so bad that NYU microbiologist Dr. Phillip M. Tierno has said that soaking in a bathtub is like sitting in “bacterial soup.”

All that being said, you shouldn’t dodge bath time just yet! If you love getting bubbly in the tub with a good book and a glass of wine, there are a few things you can do to make your tub cleaner the next time around:

1. Take a Shower to Get Clean First

If taking a bath is paramount to de-stressing after a tough day, you don’t need to stop. Simply shower first! That way, you’ll wash off the bacteria and dead skin cells on your body before you take a soak.

2. Don’t take Baths to Bathe

If you take baths to actually bathe – we have some bad news. You’re not actually getting clean when you take a bath – even if you’re using soap.

Not only does bacteria stay floating in the water you’re soaking in, so does your dead skin cells. People lose about 30,000 skin cells every hour, so even if you only take a 15-minute bath, you’ll still be sitting in a lot of dead skin (about 7,500 pieces of it, to be exact). Take a shower, first!

3. Check the Tub for Cracks, Crevices and Holes

Before you take another bath, inspect your tub for any cracks, holes or crevices that could be harboring bacteria. If you notice anything, call a contractor to take care of the problem before you schedule your next soak. Fixing small aesthetic problems now will help you avoid a larger replacement or repair down the road. Need a hand finding a reputable contractor in your area? Check out Angie’s List.

4. Keep Toys out of the Tub

If the bath-takers in your home are under the age of 10, chances are there’s a toy or two lingering in the tub. Get them outta there! The air holes in bath toys are like summer vacation for bacteria, and they’ll quickly spread in the moist environment. Between every use, regularly clean and disinfect the bath toys to kill any living organisms on the toys’ surfaces. Tip: Toss the toys in the dishwasher. The hot water will completely clean them!

5. Spray Down the Tub with DIY Disinfectant

We realize that recommending a deep cleaning session before every bath isn’t realistic. But we do think given the amount of bacteria present in the tub, you should take a minute or two to disinfect. Use this DIY recipe developed by food scientists at Virginia Tech to simply spray the area you want to disinfect – no scrubbing required!

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