Since childhood, most of us have been taught about personal hygiene habits.
Everything from brushing your teeth, taking a bath, and putting on clean clothes to washing your hands before eating is taught at a very early age. These habits become a routine part of life. But it doesn’t end there.
In fact, adults continue to become even more hygiene-conscious as a step toward healthy and disease-free living.
However, when it comes to personal hygiene, many of us are making some common hygiene mistakes and don’t even realize it. There are some common hygiene habits that might actually be doing more harm than good.
Common Hygiene Mistakes
Personal hygiene is definitely important. Not only does it take your style quotient to the next level, but it is also the first step to good physical health and well-being. However, there are some mistakes about personal hygiene which may hurt you.
Here are 10 personal hygiene mistakes you need to stop making.
1. Not Covering Your Mouth When Coughing or Sneezing
It is very important to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze to prevent germs (such as the flu virus) from spreading everywhere. Sadly, a surprising percentage of people do not follow this hygienic habit.
Approximately one out of every four people observed in a public setting failed to cover their mouth when they coughed or sneezed, according to a 2010 survey by the American Society for Microbiology.
Even more concerning, less than 5% of people covered their mouth using methods recommended by public health officials. This observational survey was done in three public areas – a train station, a hospital, and a shopping mall – in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics shows that the smaller cough and sneeze droplets travel farther distances – 5 to 200 times farther.
Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing is not just good manners. It is also important to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases.
It is best to stay home when you are sick so that your germs don’t spread to other people. If you must venture out, the least you can do is cover your mouth with a handkerchief or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
2. Not Washing Your Hands after Using the Washroom
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) USA, handwashing is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting yourself or others sick. However, many people skip handwashing, especially after using the restroom.
Even people who are in the habit of washing their hands may not be doing it properly.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Environmental Health analyzed 3,749 people’s post-toilet patterns and found that 10% skipped the sink, 33% forwent the soap, and nearly everyone else didn’t lather long enough.
Whether you are using the toilet at home or in a public place, wash your hands with soap and water once you are done. However, it is better not to use antibacterial soaps as they are actually causing the world more harm than good.
3. Not Taking Care of Your Toothbrush
When it comes to oral health, how you take care of your toothbrush matters a lot.
Most of us have the habit of rinsing our toothbrush after each use, but after that, we put it away in the bathroom cabinet when it is still wet. This is a common hygiene mistake you may also be making.
A damp toothbrush is a potential breeding ground for bacteria. Thus, when you use it next, you are virtually giving free-entry to disease-causing pathogens into your mouth.
After rinsing your toothbrush, shake off the extra water and store it in a brush holder with a cap that allows air in. From time to time, dry out your toothbrush in the sun for a few minutes.
Additionally, do not keep your toothbrush within six feet of the toilet. Remember there can be more bacteria on your toothbrush than on your toilet seat. So, store your toothbrush accordingly.
Lastly, it will do you a whole lot of good if you replace your toothbrush every 3 months.
4. Using Cotton Swabs to Clean Earwax
You have been taught since childhood to use cotton swabs to clean your ears regularly so that there is no buildup of wax. Well, as it turns out, the wax isn’t actually all that bad for you.
The wax present in your ear prevents ear infections and also stops foreign particles such as dust and small insects from entering your ear canal.
Plus, using cotton swabs can be harmful. It pushes the wax deeper into the ear canal and damages the eardrum. If you do have an excessive accumulation of wax in your ear, get it removed by a doctor.
5. Avoiding Post-Gym Showering
Exercising is a great way to be fit and get in shape. If you exercise at home or go to the gym for an intense workout, you are following a good habit.
However, if you are not taking a shower after a hard workout session, then you are making a big mistake.
A post-workout shower offers many benefits. First of all, it will make your body smell nice by getting rid of the sweat. Second, it will take care of the perspiration left behind on your skin that allows bacteria to multiply, which in turn can lead to rashes and breakouts.
Plus, a warm shower right after working out will encourage smooth blood flow throughout the entire body, giving your skin a healthy glow and alleviating muscle soreness.
The cold-water shower directly focused over the muscle you have been working with will prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is the muscle ache the next day of the severe exercise.
So, always go for a quick shower after your workout session. It is recommended to use warm water and soap followed by muscle-focused cold-water showering.
If showering isn’t an option, at least change out of your exercise clothes as soon as possible.
6. Excessively Bathing and Handwashing
Bathing and handwashing can do more harm than good when done excessively.
Taking a bath or shower daily is good for removing dirt, bacteria, and sweat from your body. However, overdoing it can lead to skin irritation and infection.
In fact, bathing too often is just as bad as not bathing enough.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows that early exposure to bacteria and certain allergens may have a protective effect on building a strong immunity. The study reports that having an overly clean environment increases the risk of developing asthma and eczema.
Similarly, excessive hand washing can lead to dry, cracked skin, which increases the chance of bacteria entering the body and causing an infection.
7. Not Cleaning Commonly Used Household Objects
No matter how much you keep your house clean and tidy, if you are not cleaning commonly used household items such as remote controls, doorknobs, keyboards, smartphones, laptops, and showerheads, you are not doing your job properly.
Make sure to frequently clean these common household items to get rid of the gross bacteria and other germs living on the surface. It’s a major step toward protecting yourself and your family members against infection.
Also, never take your gadgets with you to the bathroom. Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling your devices, or at least use a good hand sanitizer.
8. Sharing Personal Items
There’s a reason why items such as combs, towels, and toothbrushes are referred to as personal items. It’s because they are intended for your exclusive use only, rather than being shared with others.
Despite this being a no-brainer, a lot of people underestimate the significance of this basic principle of personal hygiene.
People often have no qualms about borrowing or lending essentials such as towels and brushes, not realizing that they can easily contract and spread germs and diseases through the sharing of such intimate items.
Case in point, the general use of personal items between close friends and family members opens up channels for the transmission of conjunctivitis.
It is therefore imperative that you invest in buying a personal comb, towel, etc., and restrict their use to yourself.
9. Not Flossing Your Teeth
Flossing seems like an annoying job, but it is an important oral hygiene step that you must not skip.
If you do not floss once a day, it can lead to the growth of bacteria inside your mouth and eventually cause problems with your gums.
In fact, by not flossing daily, you increase your risk of suffering from heart disease.
While flossing once and brushing twice a day is ideal for oral hygiene, doing more than this can harm your teeth and gums. It can lead to recession of the gumline and accelerated erosion of the dental enamel protecting your teeth. So, it is advisable not to overdo it.
The trick to good oral health is to brush your teeth gently for 2 minutes, two or three times a day, and floss just once daily.
10. Exfoliating Your Skin Too Often
Exfoliation is a great way to remove the skin’s dead cells and reveal the glowing, living cellular layer beneath. However, when done in excess, you are committing a big mistake for your skin’s health.
Exfoliating on a daily basis can irritate acne-prone and sensitive skin by stripping it of its natural oils, which can cause breakouts. Also, it can make your face look redder by causing tiny tears in the skin.
If you have normal or combination skin, make sure to exfoliate not more than two or three times a week. People with sensitive skin might fare better by exfoliating just once a week.
Delicate facial skin does not require the same kind of rigorous scrubbing as a dirty floor. Instead, use a light hand to gently massage the skin with the exfoliating agent, always in an upward circular motion. Make sure you do not break any pimple or let the spread pus over other parts of the face.
Use a mild soap. Once you’re done exfoliating, splash your face with cold water to wash off the surface grime and dead skin cells. The cold water will also help shrink or close the skin pores.
As exfoliation tends to render your skin dry, you must apply a skin-appropriate moisturizer thereafter.
Always balance your cleansers and exfoliating products with a nourishing moisturizer to put your best face forward.
Additional Hygiene Mistakes
- Not using a tongue scraper to clean your tongue.
- Sharing contact lens solution with others
- Leaving your makeup brushes in a dirty makeup bag
- Sharing toenail clippers with others
- Only vacuuming your carpet and never getting it cleaned professionally or with a steam cleaner especially when you have children or pets
- Using cloth diapers and washing them in the washing machine with regular clothes
- Using your hands to wipe away sweat, as it ends up transferring more germs to your hands
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