7 hygiene mistakes that almost everyone makes

hygiene mistakes
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels – karolina grabowska, polina zimmerman

Of course, you don’t have to completely disinfect your own apartment every day. However, there are a few hygiene mistakes that most of us make every day without even realizing it. And they’re pretty gross.

1. Hygiene error: Flush the toilet with the lid open

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Hygiene mistake number 1: rinsing with the lid open (Photo: Unsplash / Giorgio Trovato)

The toilet lid should be closed, especially when flushing. When flushing with the lid open, a fine mist of toilet water gets into the air – and with it bacteria and faecal germs. These can settle on surfaces and objects around the toilet, such as toothbrushes, towels or cosmetics. Not a pleasant idea.

2nd hygiene error: Contaminate cell phone

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We always have our cell phones with us. (CC0 / Unsplash / dole777)

Mobile phones are considered germ spreaders – after all, we take them with us almost everywhere. Hygiene researcher Markus Egert gives the all-clear to the German Press Agency (dpa). Due to the smooth, dry and relatively nutrient-poor surface, the touchscreen does not offer good living conditions for microorganisms.

If you take your cell phone into the bathroom, you should still wash your hands well to avoid contamination with faecal bacteria. In most households, however, the bathroom and toilet are cleaner than the kitchen. The expert warns that cell phones can easily become contaminated with food pathogens there – for example, if you watch a cooking video and defrost a chicken at the same time, or if you put your finger in your mouth to taste it. He advises wiping your cell phone with a relatively damp cloth after cooking to control bacterial contamination and washing your hands regularly.

3. Hygienic error: store toothbrush incorrectly

toothbrush toothpaste
By the way: organic toothpaste is healthier than conventional ones. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain)

We put the toothbrush in our mouth every day – so it should definitely be clean. When it comes to toothbrushes, however, many people make several mistakes:

  • Do not rinse the toothbrush cup (or not often enough): germs cavort in the cup and can spread unhindered there. The cup should therefore be rinsed thoroughly on a regular basis.

  • Store your toothbrush in a cupboard: Bacteria spread particularly well in a humid environment. So that the toothbrush does not spread germs, it should dry as quickly as possible. This takes a lot longer in a closed cupboard. Therefore: It is better to store the brush with the head up in a glass and without a cover – and as far away as possible from the toilet.

  • Changing toothbrushes too infrequently: It’s time for a new toothbrush every two to three months – many of us change brushes far too infrequently. If you use a new toothbrush regularly, however, extrapolated, there will also be a lot of plastic that ends up in the garbage. A more environmentally friendly alternative are toothbrushes made of wood, for example made of bamboo.

4th hygiene mistake: chopping boards made of plastic instead of wood

Hygiene mistake cutting board
Plastic cutting boards are a hotbed of germs, especially if you don’t clean them thoroughly. (Photo: Utopia)

Wood is not only more environmentally friendly than plastic, it can also be more hygienic. Several studies show that certain types of wood have antimicrobial properties – i.e. they can kill bacteria. When it comes to cutting boards for the kitchen, experts therefore recommend ones made of wood, because plastic cannot do that.

Another disadvantage of boards made of plastic: When cutting, grooves and cut marks can appear – bacteria like to nest there. Wood, on the other hand, can swell and at least compensate for small cuts. However, if a board has a lot of deep notches, it should be replaced, regardless of whether it is plastic or wood. With thicker wooden boards, there is still the option of having the top layer sanded down.

5. Hygiene error: washing hands incorrectly

Hands should be washed for 20 seconds – preferably with cold water.
Hands should be washed for 20 seconds – preferably with cold water. (Illustration: Miro Poferl; Photo: © Sandor Jackal – Fotolia.com)

Probably the biggest hygiene mistake of all – not only during the corona pandemic: not washing your hands. According to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), around 80 percent of contagious diseases are transmitted via the hands.

But even those who wash their hands regularly can do a lot wrong. The most common mistake is washing hands too briefly. According to the BZgA, you should soap your hands for at least 20 seconds. It is also important to dry yourself thoroughly afterwards, as pathogens prefer moist environments.

By the way: The temperature of the water is irrelevant for the elimination of the germs. So washing your hands with cold water is just as effective – and it saves valuable energy!

6. Hygiene mistakes: Defrosting food too quickly

Foods you shouldn't freeze
Be careful when defrosting! (Photo: © lyulkamazurkev – Fotolia.com)

Leftover food, fresh fruit and veg, or a stash of pesto: freezing food is a great way to keep it longer and avoid food waste.

But beware: If the frozen food thaws too quickly, germs and bacteria become active – and multiply faster than usual due to the heat. So do not thaw food at room temperature or near the heater! Even if it takes longer, it is healthier to put the frozen food in the refrigerator or in a cold water bath.

7. Hygienic error: Dry your hands on the tea towel

Dishcloth wash dishes
The tea towel is not for drying hands, it is better to use a separate (hand) towel for this. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay)

Another mistake in the kitchen: using the same cloth to dry dishes, other surfaces and your own hands. There are a lot of germs and pathogens on your hands, which get onto the tea towel when you dry them. They get on the dishes via the cloth and spread further.

Wiping your hands on a cloth after cutting fish or chicken is particularly problematic – this can spread potentially dangerous bacteria or salmonella. According to a study by the American Kansas State University, tea towels are among the biggest germ spreaders in the kitchen.

That doesn’t mean paper towels and disposable towels are better choices, though. You should only make sure that you really only use the cloth for drying dishes for this purpose – and that you wash the cloths regularly.


Read more on Techzle.com:

  • These things should get out of your bathroom
  • 10 things that have no place in the household
  • 6 foods you shouldn’t reheat in the microwave

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