You may be more familiar with the idea of cross contamination when it comes to your kitchen — but as Jodhaira Rodriguez, Good Housekeeping’s Home Care & Cleaning Lab Reviews Analyst points out, the bathroom is a high traffic area where bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli and more can be found.
No matter how diligent you are about cleaning, it’s an inevitable breeding ground for bacteria that can rapidly spread elsewhere. When harmful bacteria is transferred from one source to different surfaces, people, or spaces, it’s known as cross contamination. The area around the toilet is especially prone to the phenomenon, which has also been colorfully dubbed a “toilet sneeze”. “Close the lid when you flush. Germy water can spray across the room up to six feet every time you flush, settling on the floor, counters and bathroom doorknob and light switch,” warns Rodriguez.
If that gross fact has you wondering what else you can do to help prevent the spread of bacteria from your bathroom, there’s plenty—especially since you can’t control whether guests and kids are staying on top of closing that lid! One is using Microban 24 Hour Sanitizing Spray daily. The multitasking product’s ability to kill 99.9% of bacteria for up to 24 hours* impressed Rodriguez and her fellow experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab that it earned the Good Housekeeping Seal for effectiveness.
If taking steps against cross contamination in the bathroom isn’t second nature yet, read on for more tips to prevent the spread.
1. Minimize and Neutralize the Toilet Flush Plume
Though widespread understanding of the toilet plume— aerosolized droplets that contain bacteria and mix with the air and settle on surfaces — is fairly recent, scientific knowledge of the phenomenon actually dates to a 1975 study published in Applied Microbiology, which found that aerosol contaminants were present in the air up to 12 minutes after flushing.
After a thorough review, which included paying a visit to the manufacturer’s lab, and conducting their own tests, the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab verified that Microban 24 Hour Sanitizing Spray banishes bacteria that escape even in the tidiest bathrooms.
“Microban’s 24 Hour Sanitizing Spray keeps killing 99.9% of bacteria for up to 24 hours on surfaces after proper application,” confirms Rodriguez. Making it a part of your daily routine is an easy way to fight bacteria — since there’s no need to wipe, just spray walk away to let air dry.
2. Wash Your Hands Thoroughly
It may be obvious, but it bears repeating: “Wash your hands after you go with a mild hand soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds to get rid of any germs you may have picked up in the bathroom,” says Rodriguez. While the pandemic has made us all more familiar with hand washing best practices, it can be easy to forget when you’re at home.
3. Use Your Cleaning Products Effectively
It’s also important to keep your cleaning tools from becoming vehicles for bacteria to spread. Rodriguez recommends you keep a set of cleaning tools that you only use to clean the bathroom: “Never use these sponges, towels or cloths in any other part of your home, regardless of how well you clean them after each use.”
4. Eliminate Bacteria Safe Havens
In your bathroom, any landing surface that isn’t cleaned and disinfected as part of your daily routine is at risk of becoming a hotspot. Keeping hard surfaces like tile, faucet handles, tubs, and light switches free of buildup and gives bacteria less to cling to.
In addition to the Microban 24 Hour Sanitizing Spray, the Microban 24 Hour Bathroom Cleaner is the best option to fight buildup and provide protection from bacteria for 24 hours on surfaces. When used as directed,”This spray will also prevent mold and mildew growth for up to seven days on hard surfaces,” says Rodriguez. Since the product, cleans, sanitizes and disinfects, it’s effective for quick and deep cleanings.
Soft items like fabric shower curtains, washcloths, bathmats, towels, or face-washing headbands should be hung dry in an airy spot to dry thoroughly after each use, as bacteria is more likely to survive in moist environments. As a bonus, outside the bathroom, Microban 24 Hour Sanitizing Spray can also be used on soft surfaces like couches, backpacks, or smelly gym bags, eliminating odors and initially killing 99.9% of bacteria.
5. Don’t Ignore the Ick Factor of Phones
“Keep phones and other electronics out of the bathroom. You are likely transferring bathroom germs onto the phone that you’re then using on the couch or even in bed after,” advises Rodriguez.
This habit turns your device into a mobile microbial red flag. A comprehensive 2020 Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease review of 56 studies calculated that the average contamination rate of mobile phones was a whopping 68%. Regularly cleaning and sanitizing your device with a disinfecting wipe or according to the manufacturer’s directions is always a good idea.
*When used as directed, effective against Staphylococcus aureus & Enterobacter aerogenes bacteria for 24 hours