I wrote this article as a list of personal hygiene mistakes you may be making. For each mistake, I shared what the possible consequences of the mistake are and how you can avoid them. Some of these hygiene mistakes can lead to infections and/or life-threatening illnesses.
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NOT WASHING AND DRYING YOUR FEET PROPERLY
Using soap to wash your feet (and in between your toes) regularly will reduce the amount of odor causing bacteria on your feet. Washing your feet is also a great way to exfoliate and slough away dead skin cells. If you do not dry your feet properly after washing, it creates the perfect environment for foot fungus to thrive in. Foot fungus will thrive in moist and warm areas. Washing and drying your feet properly will promote great foot hygiene and will ward off bad odors.
Some of my favorite body soaps are:
USING YOUR TOWEL TOO MANY TIMES BETWEEN WASHES
If you do not wash your towel often enough, bacteria, viruses, and fungi will thrive. These may cause odors, spread infections, can spread colds, or cause your skin to get rashes. You shouldn’t roll your wet towel up. It is better to hang your towel in a well ventilated area so it can dry properly. I usually add disinfectant to my laundry. Personally, I use a little bit of Pine Sol, Pine Glo, LA’s Totally Awesome Power Oxygen Base Cleaner, or vinegar.
My favorite disinfectants for laundry (Pine Glo and LA’s Totally Awesome Power Oxygen Base Cleaner can be found at Dollar Tree):
A towel rack like the one I had in my dorm:
USING A DIRTY TOWEL ON YOUR FACE
Though it is not the only possible cause, using a dirty towel on your face may cause breakouts if you have acne prone skin. If you choose to dry your face with a towel, make sure it is clean and only use dabbing motions. If you rub your skin dry using a towel, you may tug on your skin causing irritation, or premature wrinkling.
NOT CHANGING YOUR BED LINEN OFTEN ENOUGH
Washing your bed linen regularly is necessary to limit the accumulation of dead skin cells, sweat, dirt, dust (and dust mites), your sebum, build up from the products you use on your skin, pet dander, bacteria, and viruses. Similarly to my wash routine for my towels, I add some Pine Sol, Pine Glo, LA’s Totally Awesome Power Oxygen Base Cleaner, or vinegar to my load of laundry whenever I wash my bed linen.
My favorite disinfectants for laundry:
DOUCHING WITHOUT CONSULTING A PHYSICIAN
Some people believe that in order to wash their vagina, they must use a douche. In reality, your vagina is self cleaning. You just need to wash on the outside, and you should not have to flush out the inside of your vagina. Douching may actually throw off your pH balance and cause vaginal irritation. Douching may cause you to have a higher risk for developing yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. Aside from issues with hygiene, there may be other adverse effects of douching.
WEARING YOUR PAD/ TAMPON / MENSTRUAL CUP TOO LONG
Wearing the same tampon, or menstrual cup too long can actually lead to a life-threatening condition known as toxic shock syndrome. Toxic shock syndrome can come from staph (Staphylococcus aureus) and/or strep (Streptococcus pyogenes) bacteria entering the bloodstream, if you are not changing your tampons, or menstrual cups within the time frame (preferably more frequently) indicated on the packaging. Try to avoid wearing tampons at night when possible to maintain good vaginal hygiene. Wearing pads, tampons or menstrual cups too long can lead to you getting a yeast infection, and/or bacterial vaginosis. Always opt to use unscented feminine products to avoid irritation.
Fragrance free femine care products:
WEARING A THONG TO THE GYM OR WEARING SWEATY UNDIES AFTER THE GYM
Thongs may trap moisture in your vaginal area. Excess moisture in the vaginal area may lead to infections. Wearing a thong while performing physical activity may actually move bacteria from your bum to your vagina or urethra when your underwear shifts. To limit your risk of infection, you should wear breathable cotton thongs (or whichever cut you prefer) and change your underwear after the gym.
Breathable cotton underwear:
Flossing is necessary for promoting good gum health. When you eat, food may get lodged between teeth. You also get a build up of plaque, which is filled with bacteria. Flossing helps you remove stuck food or plaque that may be between teeth. If you do not floss between your teeth, the stuck food and plaque may harden into tartar, cause cavities and/or lead to gum disease. If you bleed when flossing, it may be a sign that you are already in the early stages of gum disease. You should still floss daily, even if you bleed when flossing. I personally use three different methods of flossing. I use interdental brushes, a WaterPik, and/or traditional floss accompanied by a floss threader. All of these flossing methods promote good gum health.
My favorite floss:
KEEPING THE SAME TOOTHBRUSH TOO LONG
Similarly to your towel, your toothbrush is a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. Worn down toothbrushes are also less effective at brushing away plaque build up and food debris. If you do not switch out worn out toothbrushes you are more likely to get cavities or develop gum disease. I always change my toothbrush after I get over a cold or when the bristles of my toothbrush show wear. Professionals agree that you should switch to a new toothbrush after three months (or less) of use. I personally switch my toothbrushes more often than the three month recommendation.
Toothbrushes I like (I also love toothbrushes from Dr.Fresh, but I could not find a direct link to them online. They can be found at FiveBelow):
NOT CLEANING YOUR PHONE SCREEN
Some may overlook cleaning their phone (and other devices) as a good hygiene practice. Throughout the day, your phone picks up bacteria and viruses from the surfaces you place it on. You also transfer the bacteria and oils from your hands to your phone. You can then place these pathogens on your face when you talk on the phone. To avoid this you should wipe your phone down regularly. Microfiber towels are great at wiping away debris. I use disinfectant wipes on my phone screen, but that may wear down the phone screen of certain phone brands.