How to Avoid Potty Mouth

Don’t Flush Near Your Brush

What has more germs, a kitchen or a bathroom? Well, unless you’re a complete vegetarian, your kitchen is full of more germs than your bathroom. All of that chicken and other animal juice dripping on your counter tops takes diligence to clean up, but that doesn’t mean your bathroom is winning any germ-free awards. Let’s get real — things happen in the bathroom; things involving germs, things that must be flushed.

What happens when a toilet is flushed? According to Charles Gerba, PhD, a professor of microbiology at University of Arizona in Tucson, flushing with the lid up is quite the germ spreader. “Polluted water vapor erupts out of the flushing toilet bowl and it can take several hours for these particles to finally settle — not to mention where,” he says. “If you have your toothbrush too close to the toilet, you are brushing your teeth with what’s in your toilet.”

Those Europeans with their separate toilet rooms have it all over us polluted, vapor-spewing Americans. Yet another reason for women to yell at men; not only do they have to lower the seat, they need to lower the lid too! Are there any other facts we need to know about keeping our toothbrushes from getting too gross?

Make sure all who share a bathroom have their own color toothbrushes and change them often, especially after illness. When you brush, you remove plaque and particles, leaving bacteria, blood, saliva, and oral debris on your toothbrush. This contamination can be passed right back to you. (Did you just put toothbrushes on your shopping list?) And for storage, it is best to keep toothbrushes an inch apart from each other, according to Neil Schachter, MD, medical director of respiratory care at Mount Sinai in New York City, and the author of The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds and Flu. Think of family toothbrushes as kids in the back seat of the car yelling “He’s touching me!” and let them have their space.

So it’s seat down, assign colors, change them often and let them keep their distance. Your brushes will stay cleaner, your family will stay healthier and you’ll keep those germs from jumping from bowl to brush.

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