Let’s be honest, we spend a lot of time scrubbing the toilet to make sure it is squeaky clean. However, it’s not the toilet that needs your attention but the bacteria in the bathroom.
And this bacteria’s best friend has unfortunately turned out to be your baby’s beloved rubber ducks and toys. Yes, you read that right!
Swiss and American researchers have recently confirmed that bacteria inside those rubber bath toys can make babies and your family, very, very sick.
Study finds bacteria in bath toys
A study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, ETH Zurich and the University of Illinois was first published in the Biofilms and Microbiomes journal. Its results have shocked not just parents but also the scientific world.
For the purpose of the study, they analysed about 19 real bath toys — donated by families that loved them — and found “dense and slimy biofilms” on their inner surfaces.
The researchers uncovered up to 75 million cells per square cm (0.15 square inch) — as well as a variety of other bacteria and fungus in the ducks.
“Dense growths of bacteria and fungi are found on the inner surface of these flexible toys, and a murky liquid will often be released when they are squeezed by a child,” their statement read.
It’s not the water, but the plastic toys that help bacteria grow
The study explains that it is not necessarily the tap water that causes bacteria. Instead, it is the low-quality polymers in the plastic that create the perfect environment for bacterial and fungal growth.
They carried our controlled experiments with the toys and placed them in clean and dirty water to get to this conclusion.
They also found that bodily fluids such as urine and sweat, as well as soaps, combine with nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. This creates a moist environment for bacteria.
They also found differences in various bath toys.
Microbiologist and lead study author Lisa Neu explained, “One of the reasons was the material because it releases carbon that can serve as food for the bacteria.”
She added that kids were at the highest risk of contracting infections caused by these harmful bacteria. Her supervisor Frederik Hammes added, “This could strengthen the immune system, which would be positive, but it can also result in eye, ear, or even gastrointestinal infections.”
What type of rubber toys should parents use?
The researchers explained that using rubber toys made with high-quality polymer could be a possible solution. It also helps if you can clean the toys every two weeks.
Here are some steps to clean your baby’s rubber toys:
- Boil the toys in water every two weeks. Squeeze them properly to get all the mould out. Let them dry before you reuse.
- Mix together 3.5 liters of water with 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Soak your toys in this mixture for an hour. Squeeze to get mould and dirt out. Let dry and use.
- After you clean them, cover the holes in the toys with superglue. This will prevent more mould from forming inside.
- Mix two parts of water with one part of hydrogen peroxide and soak your dirty bath toys in the mixture. Alternatively, you can also spray it on to them. Squeeze the mould/dirt out and let it dry before use.
Make sure you maintain proper hygiene when it comes to bath toys and clean them from time to time. Apart from this precaution, you also need to be careful about five other objects that can host bacteria in the bathroom.
5 disgusting objects that lead to bacteria in the bathroom
1. Toothbrush holder
Most of us keep using the same toothbrush holder for years. And there is nothing wrong with this unless if you remember to deep-clean it every two weeks. Yes, that’s how frequently you should give that thing a wash.
An unclean holder can be a mouldy home to bacteria, fungus and mildew. You can sanitise it using diluted hydrogen peroxide solution.
Unless your soap dish has holes, it is a fancy petri dish for germs. If you do not allow it to dry, and if it remains wet and moist, it can harbour germs even if the soap is still in the dish.
To prevent bacterial growth, you should drain the dish and if possible, ditch the soap bar for a liquid gel or soap.
3. Shower curtains
Your shower curtains are home to mould and germs. Remember, that mould is microscopic so if your shower curtain has black patches, it means you are harbouring millions of germs.
These type of germs can irritate the respiratory system and cause allergies and even asthma. Dirty shower curtains can also be home to fungus and yeast that cause skin infections. So you can either replace your shower curtains or wash them with bleach, which is also cost-effective.
Keep a separate towel for each member of the family and wash them each week. | Image courtesy: Pixabay
4. Hand towel
Unless you are a Monica Geller from Friends, chances are you do not have 11 categories of hand towels in your bathroom. You only use the one for your face, hands and sometimes even your feet! Oh lord!
And since it is constantly used by so many people, it remains moist and wet, making it the perfect home for bacteria. So the best solution is to keep a separate towel for each member of the family and wash the towels each week.
5. Doorknob and light switch
While cleaning the toilet, bathroom floor, tub and towel racks are important, it is also necessary that you clean your bathroom doorknobs and light switches.
Once in a while, somebody might forget to wash their hands inside the washroom and touching the knobs and switches with those dirty hands means passing on germs to others. That’s why knobs and switches are often the most dirty things in your home. So make sure you clean them on a daily basis.
Anti-bacterial wipes or even a lemon and water mixture are good for this purpose.
Sources: BBC, NY Daily News, EAWAG
ALSO READ: Anti-bacterial wipes are useless for thorough cleaning, say expert
(Feature image courtesy: EAWAG)