10 Surprising Places Germs Live In Bathrooms

Germs love moist, dark places and the bathroom is definitely a hot-spot. But if you think toilets are the only place germs can find a happy home, you’re certainly wrong. There are lots of nooks and crannies bacteria can thrive in this little corner of the house. Here are 10 surprising places germs live in bathrooms you may not have considered.

1. Bathroom Air

You may no longer need to fear the toilet, but you do need to watch out for the air around it after you flush with the seat cover up. Researchers warn some viruses could persist in the air after flushing which means you may inhale or swallow them and catch an infection.

2. Bathroom Walls

Sarah Humphreys, executive editor at Real Simple magazine, revealed last year on Today bathroom walls near a toilet are one of the surprising places germs live in bathrooms. “If you watch a toilet flush in slow motion, it looks like a fireworks display and microbes can go 20 feet,” Humphreys explained. “This is really gross. When you’re washing the surfaces of your bathroom, get the walls.”

3. Toothbrush Holder

A 2011 NSF study classified the toothbrush holder as the third dirtiest place in your entire home. Bacteria thrive in dark, moist places and that’s exactly what the bottom of your toothbrush holder looks like. In addition, because it’s often left on the counter, there’s also a big possibility bacteria coming out of the toilet will land on it.

4. Toothbrush

Similar to the toothbrush holder, your toothbrush could easily become a hot-spot for germs for a number of reasons.

  1. Nearly half of new, unused toothbrushes were found to contain bacteria, according to a 2011 study in the Microscopy Research and Technique.
  2. Your mouth has more than 500 different types of bacteria, but they’re all your own so they are unlikely to make you sick, unless you’ve been sharing your toothbrush, says Abigail Salyers, PhD, professor of molecular and cellular biology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
  3. If you leave your toothbrush on the counter, it will likely collect fecal bacteria from the toilet.

5. Shower Head

When you think about taking a shower, you think cleanliness rather than germs. Unfortunately, the shower head is a breeding ground for bacteria that gets blasted out when water passes through it according to a study by researchers from the University of Colorado. The researchers found Mycobacterium avium, which can cause respiratory infections for people with a weak immune system or chronic respiratory disease. Other than that, researchers say there’s no need to worry.

6. Shower Curtains

Who doesn’t hate soap scum – that white film on your vinyl shower curtains?

Now there’s more reason to be angry with it. A study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology found soap scum can help grow Sphingomonas and Methylbacterium, which are infection-causing pathogens.

7. Soap dispensers

If you’re not careful, that soap dispenser sitting on your counter right now may give you gastroenteritis or other food-borne illness. “Most of these containers are never cleaned, so bacteria grows as the soap scum builds up,” said microbiologist Charles Gerba. “And the bottoms are touched by dirty hands, so there’s a continuous culture going on feeding millions of bacteria.”

8. Loofahs

You use your loofah to scrub off dirt and dead skin cells from your body. Unfortunately, dead skin cells get stuck in its many nooks and crannies. And because it stays moist most of the time, it becomes a great place to hang out for bacteria including fungal organisms that can cause skin infections, say Dr. Melissa Piliang, MD, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic.

9. Bathroom Towels

We use them to get dry after a bath. But what we don’t realize is they are a perfect place for bacteria to grow because they are damp after each use. Used towels provide germs the three elements required for them to thrive: moisture, warmth, and organic material. Organic material refers to dead skin cells that accumulate every time you use it to wipe your body.

Just how many germs can a towel have? Research from the University of Arizona found 25.6 towels contained Escherichia coli that may lead to food poisoning or diarrhea. Study author Charles Gerba says towels facilitate the, “spread of bacteria and viruses among family members who use the same towels.” This includes skin infections like athlete’s foot. The risk of such infections is highest in unlaundered, used, moist towels, says Dr. Peter Barratt of Initial Washroom Hygiene.

10. Paper Towels

Paper towels have been found to harbor germs even before use, with the number of bacteria significantly higher in recycled paper towels, between 100 and 1,000 times higher than the towels made from virgin wood pulp, according to a study. The same study, which was conducted by researchers at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada, also found at least 17 bacterial species in the paper towels from six brands included in the study. The most common was Bacillus which is linked to food poisoning. Although this may all sound terrifying, the researchers did clarify you won’t get sick by using paper towels unless you have an immune disorder.

Now you know better than to focus on the toilet seat alone. These surprising places germs live in bathrooms also need your attention and maybe even more so. So gear up, get ready, and win the war against germs and the diseases they carry.


How well and how often do you clean these places in the bathrooms? 

Additional Images: wilkernet / Pixabay



Juvy Garcia
Juvy Garcia
Juvy is a freelance proofreader, copy editor and writer. A nice little nook with a good book would be ideal. But concocting plans for her next drawing or DIY project will suffice while she's still busy babysitting two daughters. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on Google+.