The Most Hygienic Thing You Can Do to Keep Your Bathroom Clean (Plus Other Handy Cleaning Tips You Really Need to Know)

Modern bathroom sink and mirror.
credit: Nicole Mason

You know what's weird about the bathroom? It's where you go to start fresh and clean in the morning, or wipe off the grime of the day, but it's also one of the dirtiest rooms in the house.

How do you square those facts? Well, you clean. A lot.

What’s the big deal?

Bacteria, lots and lots of bacteria — and it's not necessarily where you think.

  • Light switch — 217 bacteria per square inch
  • Toilet seat — 295 bacteria per square inch
  • Bathroom floor, in front of toilet — 764 bacteria per square inch
  • Faucet — 6,267 bacteria per square inch
  • Toothbrush — 200,000 bacteria per square inch
  • Toilet bowl — 3.2 million bacteria per square inch

The most common types of bacteria found in any bathroom are E.coli, Streptococcus, and salmonella.

You spend more time in there — among the bacteria — than you think.

  • Uses the toilet 2,500 times per year
  • Sits on the toilet 25 minutes per day
  • Spends 13 months of their lives on the toilet seat

And 75 percent of us are using our smartphones on the toilet.

The most effective thing you can do.

Did you know that fecal matter, bacteria, and other lovely, invisible substances can spray up to six feet away when you flush? That's why shutting the lid is perhaps the easiest, most hygienic thing you can do to keep your bathroom clean. And, per one study, 60 percent of people need to get with the program already.

Fine, I’ll clean.

Great. Here's a comprehensive guide for how to clean your bathroom — and how often.

Or, for some quick sound bites:

● Wipe down the sink and squeegee glass shower walls once a day

● Launder towels and disinfect all surfaces — from the floors to the mirrors — once a week

● Scrub all surfaces once a month

● Clear your pipes and drains every season

● Soak fixtures to remove scale once a year

Just don’t clean too much.

Common grocery-store bathroom cleaners will obliterate bacteria, but that's not all they'll damage. One study found that repeated exposure to bleach and hydrogen peroxide — two really common household cleaners — can increase your risk of a potentially fatal lung disease known as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Luckily there are plenty of ways to clean your home, naturally.

And don’t forget!

Yes, it's important to clean the toilet, but that's among the least of your problems.

Toss your toothbrush. The American Dental Association says you should swap toothbrushes every three or four months, but it's a good idea to switch them out as soon as the bristles fray, or after anyone is sick.

Give the bath toys a bath. Researchers found "notable biofilm" (i.e. bacteria) on the inner surface of every bath toy they tested — and fungi in 58 percent of them. And these toys end up in your baby's mouth! Your choice is to toss and replace frequently, or, per Martha, soak in a mixture of vinegar and warm water.

Shower your shower curtain.
In an industry study, more than 4 out of 10 people forget to clean the shower curtain — which is silly, because you can just toss it in the washing machine.


Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert

Laura Lambert is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who covers lifestyle, design, and women's health.