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At this point, I think we all know that antibacterial soaps are terrible and we shouldn’t stick cotton swabs in our ears. But it turns out that there a lot of other common household mistakes that create more problems than they fix — and I bet you’re guilty of at least a few. According to Healthy Way, one of the absolute worst things you can do is leave dishes to soak in your sink … like I do, all the time.
According to researchers from the University of Arizona, somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of bugs that lead to food-borne illnesses are bred right at home. And where exactly in the home do you think these pathogens are breeding? The second-worst offender in microbiologist Charles Gerba’s research, after the kitchen sponge, is the kitchen sink. It has more bacteria than your toilet, according to Gerba. (“That’s why your dog likes to drink out of the toilet,” he jokes.)
Uh, gross. That is one habit that I will be breaking immediately, as well as taking a newfound interest in scrubbing out the sink on the regular. Because … gross.
Speaking of the spread of bacteria, guess what else is terrible for you? Those hand dryers in every bathroom everywhere. They actually cause bacteria to fly into the air, essentially aerosolizing it like some kind of inadvertent biological weapon. Oh, and they also aren’t any better for the environment than paper towels. In fact, the amount of energy they require might actually make them a greater strain on our resources than the paper towels they replaced. This secretly delights me because I hate those hand dryers, and I desperately hope that bathrooms everywhere get a remodel soon — or at least start offering paper towels as well.
But as we all know by now, there’s good bacteria and bad bacteria. And it turns out that the simple act of washing our fruit and vegetables might be depriving us of necessary good bacteria.
Crazy, right? But researchers at Cornell University say that eating dirt is something humans have been doing forever, and that the dirt consumed along with plants might actually protect our stomachs from pathogens, toxins, and parasites. This one is still in the research stage, though, and not washing produce (especially if we didn’t grow it ourselves) could be dangerous for the immune-compromised. As with any new health habit, always follow your healthcare provider’s guidance.
If you think about it, breaking these three “hygiene” habits will actually make life easier in the long run. Doing the dishes immediately will save us from the dreaded 10 p.m. kitchen clean-up. Ditching the hand dryers will save us the time and sensory assault it takes to stand there and let our skin be blasted to bits. And not stopping to scrub home-grown produce is basically just a win-win. So embrace the freedom and enjoy the benefits of proper hygiene!