Three common mistakes when washing with a sponge that cause ‘dangerous’ bacteria spread

Showering: Dermatologist recommends ways to keep skin healthy

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Washing with a sponge provides many practical benefits, not least the ability to get into nooks and crannies. However, failure to use sponges correctly can have the opposite effect: it can harm your health. This is because flouting certain protocols can make your sponge more susceptible to “dangerous bacteria”, warned Hussain Abdeh, Superintendent Pharmacist at Medicine Direct.

What does he advise?

“If you use a loofah or other abrasive sponge when you shower, this should be replaced once every four to six weeks,” advised Mr Abdeh.

The pharmacist continued: “A natural sea sponge should be changed monthly. Failure to do so leads to a dangerous spread of bacteria.”

According to Mr Abdeh, when you use a new sponge, you can exfoliate the skin and remove layers of dead skin, which is good for the body.

“However, many people make the mistake of using the same sponge for weeks or even months at a time.”

The pharmacist added: “Doing this doesn’t serve to clean your body, it just covers you with old bacteria each time you shower. The sponge is then left to dry after the shower, which just breeds even more bacteria.”

Keep the seat down after doing your deed

Another way bacteria can infiltrate your sponge is via an open toilet seat.

Mr Abdeh explained: “The bathroom contains floating bacteria at all times, especially in households where the toilet lid isn’t put down when flushing the toilet.

“This sprays toilet water all over the bathroom, which can land on your sponge and other cleaning accessories.”

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A certain a ring to it

Although rare, it is possible to get a skin infection from a particularly infested shower sponge, warned Mr Abdeh.

“For this reason, it is imperative that your shower accessories are rung out after use. This helps to minimise the build-up of bacteria.”

Furthermore, he added, you should be replacing them regularly to ensure your body is protected from an “onslaught” of bacteria each time you bathe.

Sponge mistakes are not the only pitfall when washing: the shower head also presents hidden health risks.

Mr Abdeh explained: “Many people are very proud of their spotless bathrooms but are completely oblivious to one area that goes without a good clean: the shower head.”

However, “shower heads are a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria as they are left wet once you have finished showering”.

According to the pharmacist, shower heads and other water distributors like taps are ideal places for bacteria to grow.

“The majority of bacteria that grows in shower heads will not cause you any harm, but certain types of bacteria can cause lung infections.”

He continued: “This risk is very small indeed and it would be very difficult to prove that a respiratory infection was caught from the shower.”

Nonetheless, cleaning your shower head with a disinfectant every couple of weeks is a “good idea”, said Mr Abdeh.

Why? “This is only the same thing you would do with your bathroom tap to prevent limescale and taking this simple and quick precaution can help to decrease bacterial build-up.”

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