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Did You Know? Shower Curtains Have the Most Germs In Your Bathroom

The Germs in Your Shower Curtain

You most likely look forward to a relaxing shower at the end of a long day. You may not be aware bacteria and germs are most likely growing on your shower curtain. There are probably more germs on your shower curtain than throughout your entire bathroom. According to the majority of experts, these germs do not present a serious risk. Despite this, it is a good idea to start cleaning your shower curtain on a regular schedule.

Studies were conducted encompassing over 500 participants. The results showed the microbial life detected on the average shower curtain is 60 times greater than on the seat of your toilet. The bacteria includes both gram-positive and gram-negative rods. Although gram-negative rods are generally not considered harmful, the downside is they can resist antibiotics. The study found numerous potential reasons for the buildup of bacteria including the additional activities performed in the shower such as:

  • 61 percent have sex

  • 73 percent of women urinate in addition to 81 percent of men

  • 33 percent brush their teeth

  • 65 percent shave

Although the above activities mean you need to clean your shower more often, no evidence has been found proving additional bacteria grow on your shower curtain. The fecal matter found on your toilet seat can actually spread to your shower curtain due to the spray radius of the plume. You can decrease how many germs are spreading throughout your bathroom simply by closing your toilet seat before you flush. Once the germs come in contact with your shower curtain they will spread.

Your shower provides bacteria with a dark, humid and hot environment ideal for breeding. Every time your burp or cough in your bathroom, you may be contributing to the growth of bacteria.

Cleaning Your Shower Curtain

Your best option for preventing the growth of mold and bacteria on your shower curtain is cleaning it frequently. The best way to clean is dependant on how often you use your shower. If your shower is being used at least once a day, you should be cleaning your shower curtain thoroughly once every month. If you do not want to have to clean your shower curtain every month, you can purchase a liner made out of fabric. All you have to do is wash your liner and let it dry.

Try to avoid a vinyl or plastic shower curtain because you will accumulate a lot more soap scum. Even if you have this type of curtain, you can get it clean in your washer with cold water and detergent. If your curtain is made of plastic, you will need to hang it to dry. A fabric shower curtain can go right into your dryer. You can also help decrease bacteria by closing your curtain after your shower as opposed to letting it bunch up. Make certain your bathroom is ventilated properly.

You may also want to consider misting your shower. You can combine the required ingredients in a spray bottle. After you have taken a shower, just spray your curtain and walls. You will need:

  • One cup of water

  • One-half cup of vodka

  • 10 drops of essential oil (peppermint)

When to Purchase a New Shower Curtain

If you have not cleaned your shower curtain in a long time, you may be better off purchasing a new curtain. Not washing your shower curtain for a few months can result in mildew leading to health concerns. If you see mildew or mold on your shower curtain, you should throw it in the trash. You should also throw away your curtain if there is obvious wear and tear or any rips. Mildew usually has a yellow or gray color, while mold is green, black or bright red.

You should buy a new shower curtain about once a year. You can also extend the life of your curtain by having fun changing it to go with the season. If you have any grime on your shower curtain, use some white vinegar in your washing machine to help get your shower curtain even cleaner. You should avoid using both bleach and harsh chemicals if your shower curtain is colored or made from delicate material. You can get synthetic and natural fabrics clean by placing your shower curtain in your washing machine with a little white vinegar and one of the milder detergents.

There has not been much research conducted regarding bathroom bacteria, but if you are healthy there are most likely no risks. The pathogens that have been detected do not pose a risk for individuals in good health. The most frequently seen pathogens are methylobacterium and sphingomonas. If you have wounds, they can become infected by these pathogens. There is also a risk if your immune system has been compromised. Experts have concluded a private home is not at risk due to the bacteria found in shower curtains.

In 2004, a study about shower curtains was published. The results showed there are two different kinds of bacteria causing approximately 80 percent of the issue. Both of these bacteria are different than what has been discovered more recently. One of the bacteria types results in body odor, although it is not harmful to your household. Tiny amounts of E. coli were discovered. This can lead to diarrhea. The other strain can result in an infection, although it is far from common. In most instances, the person's immune system is compromised due to HIV, autoimmune diseases or cancer.

In regards to E. coli, you do not have to worry. To become infected, you would need to consume the E. coli. Becoming infected due to your shower curtain would be extremely rare. The experts believe mold creates a much greater risk than bacteria. When more than one person uses a shower or mold allergies are present, there is a slightly higher risk. Although you can find both mold and bacteria in your bathroom, they are different. Mold can cause skin rashes, chronic coughs, sore throats and eye irritations. The risks are higher for the elderly, kids and anyone whose immune system has been compromised.

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The content on this page is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical advice. Patients should not use the information presented on this page for diagnosing a health-related issue or disease. Before taking any medication or supplements, patients should always consult a physician or qualified healthcare professional for medical advice or information about whether a drug is safe, appropriate or effective.