15 Bad Hygiene Habits That Are Way Worse Than You Thought

You might think that some matters of hygiene are simple givens, such as washing your hair or bathing. But Reader’s Digest reminds us that there are 15 hygiene habits that many people either don’t engage in regularly or fail to do at all. One that the majority of us may be guilty of is not flossing our teeth regularly. Other hygiene blunders may apply only to women, such as leaving tampons in for too long.

But, whether it’s reusing bathroom towels or failing to change the bed sheets for months at a time, there are reasons why you need to make everything on this hygiene list a priority. For example, not changing your sheets regularly can make your bed a breeding ground for bacteria, fungus and mites.

Washing your produce and your water bottle — as well as your underwear — are good places to start if you want to avoid E. coli, molds and staph. Add to that not sharing shavers, toothbrushes or hairbrushes and you have most of your list to remember, and all come with very serious reasons to never forget them.

One thing that wasn’t mentioned here is regular hand-washing, which is an important strategy to reduce the spread of infection, but which many fail to do as often as they should — even after using the bathroom. Or, if they do wash, research has shown that 84 to 95 percent of people don’t perform the task well enough to prevent disease. One important thing to remember is to avoid antibacterial soaps completely.

Pay special attention to hand-washing whenever you’re preparing food and, as the featured article stresses, always wash your produce before you eat it. Buying strictly organic produce will help you avoid pesticides but, still, it’s important to make sure your fruits and veggies are free of other residues, such as dirt or contamination from handling. For the nonorganic produce you consume, washing with a solution of baking soda may help to remove some of the pesticides on the surface of the fruit or vegetable, although it won't remove chemical residues that have penetrated beyond the peel.

While you’re in the kitchen, don’t forget to change the sponge on your sink. Even though you may be constantly dipping them in dish detergent, sponges are a literal microbe factory, teeming with bacteria. You’re not required to pitch the sponge you just got out yesterday (necessarily), but once a week might be good. Three ways to sterilize them is through boiling, microwaving or soaking them in bleach water.
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