You might know the basics to hygiene: brush your teeth twice daily, shower after working out, wash your face at night, and more; however, you might just be doing these things wrong, or at least not as well as you could. There are health mistakes you're making in the bathroom that could surely add up, putting your body at risk for various skin conditions, diseases, and just unappealing consequences. Plus, while you might not be aware of them, they're likely habits, meaning it might be tricky to break free and form a new and improved routine.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on taking care of their bodies, and the first step is being mindful of personal hygiene. Of course, exercising and eating clean diet is super important, but something as small as taking regular showers or flossing could make a huge difference in your health and wellbeing. What's more, forgetting to do these simple tasks is actually pretty common; maybe you're busy and don't feel like taking the time, you're running from a workout class to the office, in a rush, or you just don't know what gross things can actually happen from that skipped wash down. Here are 7 bathroom mistakes you might be making and what you should be doing instead.
1. Wiping Back To Front
After doing your business, be careful as to what direction you're wiping in, says Dr. Allison Hill, a Los Angeles-based OB/GYN who is also chief medical consultant for Cystex over email with Bustle. "When women wipe from back to front instead of front to back after going to the bathroom, there is an increased chance of bacteria entering the vagina and urinary tract from the rectum, leading to nasty infections such as a UTI, a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis," explains Hill. Yuck.
2. Using The Wrong Products
"One big mistake in the bathroom is that people use cleansers and shampoos that actually dry out their skin and scalp. Most soaps and shampoos contain sulfates, such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, and they strip out the natural oils in hair, skin and scalp," says health expert David Conrad and owner of Beargrass over email with Bustle. "This causes a chain reaction where the body attempts to overcompensate by overproducing sebum, the skins natural oil, which can lead to oily skin, inflammation, and breakouts," Conrad explains.
3. Bringing Your Phone Into The Bathroom
According to Dr. Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, over email with Bustle, the bathroom is loaded with germs (especially the bathroom sink, which has more germs than the toilet, Gerba says), so when you bring your phone in there and place on the sink, you're transferring that gunk to your fingers, mouth, and any other body parts that come in contact with it.
Just say no. According to Dr. Peter Rizk, OBGYN and women’s health expert for Fairhaven Health, over email with Bustle, "unwanted feminine odors are often produced by odor causing bacteria that flourish in your vagina when your vulvar and vaginal pH is too high, and many common activities such as intercourse, menstrual bleeding, douching, and sweating, can cause your pH to increase." As this can lead to bacteria growth, Rizk recommends considering "an isotonic feminine gel formula like IsoFresh Balancing Gel, which retains the vagina’s delicate natural balance stopping the common unwanted odors," as opposed to douching.
5. Keeping Toothbrushes Exposed Openly
Over email with Bustle, Dr. Chris Kammer, DDS and Founding Father of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health says that "one of the major mistakes many families make is to leave their toothbrushes out in the open in the bathroom." Here's why: "Every toilet flush catapults an aerosol of bacterial unmentionables into the air that wind up on you and your toothbrush," Kammer says. Solution: Put the lid down before you flush and never ever leave your toothbrush out in the open in the bathroom.
6. Using Harsh Mouth Washes
"People commonly use mouthwash as a part of their oral care routine, but alcohol-based mouthwashes actually tend to dehydrate the mouth," says Kammer. In turn, drier conditions are a breeding ground for bad bacteria. "Better to use an alcohol-free mouth rinse with xylitol, such as Spry, which actually stimulates saliva production to help wash away the bad stagnant bacteria," Kammer recommends.
7. Holding It In
If you gotta go, you gotta go, right? Don't wait if you have the urge. If you have to pee or poop, make sure to get it out, as waiting to go to the bathroom can put your health at risk. Not pooping when you have to, for instance, can lead to constipation, as the longer you wait, the more backed up you'll become.
If you're making any of these bathroom mistakes, you might want to re-evaluate your self-care and hygiene practices and find ways to remind yourself to be better. You're likely to feel more comfortable, have a cleaner appearance, and lower your risk of infection or health concerns.