If you’ve seen a household cleanser ad lately, you’ve probably seen a bacteria, mold, or fungus, personified as an ugly little critter with sharp teeth, scaly skin, and a bad attitude. Those ads make it seem as if bathroom germs are mounting a daily, organized invasion of your tub, toilet, and shower. But what are the real bathroom germs lurking behind your sink, what can you catch from them, and how can you combat them?
Bathroom Germs: They’re Everywhere
The bad news is yes, there are probably a lot of germs in your bathroom. In fact, there are a lot of germs on your body.
“There are more germs than body cells on the human body, by a factor of 10,” says Philip M. Tierno, Jr., PhD, director of clinical microbiology and diagnostic immunology at Tisch Hospital, New York University Medical Center. “So 90% of the total number of cells on your body are actually germ cells. We can’t live in a bubble and avoid germs.” But, says Tierno, most germs are perfectly harmless to us.
Not all of them, of course. So what harmful germ beasties might be prowling in your bathroom? There are several types:
Gastrointestinal viruses that cause stomach ailments in humans. These include the norovirus, which you may have heard of in connection with cruise ship outbreaks. These viruses aren’t just on cruise ships; they can be exploring your toilet seat as well. Gastrointestinal viruses “are easily transmitted and can remain on a solid surface for as much as a week,” says Tierno.
Enteric pathogens, which are organisms spread by contaminated foods (and can, of course, be carried in feces). These include things like E. coli, salmonella, shigella, and campylobacter. E. coli O157:H7 is particularly nasty, causing severe diarrhea with bloody stools. “It’s the bacteria that killed four children and caused a lot of illness at Jack-in-the-Box restaurants in California in 1993,” says Donna Duberg, MA, MS, assistant professor of clinical laboratory science at Saint Louis University.
Skin and respiratory organisms, such as staphylococcus aureus (“staph”) bacteria, including the antibiotic resistant MRSA strain, and Group A Strep, known as the “flesh-eating” bacteria.
Dermatophitic fungi, like athlete’s foot, transmitted by walking barefoot in the bathroom.
Other residual fungi, like those indigenous to showers — the “mold and mildew” of bathroom cleanser fame. “They don’t cause infection, but they can exacerbate asthma and allergies,” says Tierno.
But before you evacuate your bathroom and call Hazmat, here’s the good news: if you clean regularly and practice basic hygiene, there’s very little risk from the bathroom germs you’ll find there. “Only about 1%-2% of all germs are pathogenic — meaning they can make us sick,” says Tierno. “There’s a possibility you can catch something, but if you practice good personal, household, and food hygiene, you’re at pretty low risk.”
Christina Anstead of “Flip or Flop” fame has made a name for herself with her modern coastal designs. But as is clear from her new show, “Christina on the Coast,” she doesn’t always stick to her signature styles. How does she do outside her comfort zone?
In the latest episode, “Boho Flair,” Anstead is working with Sabrina and Miguel, who want her to design the kitchen and living room in their Anaheim Hills, CA, home. They have a healthy renovation budget of $70,000, but their project comes with an unusual challenge. With some areas of the house already renovated, Anstead has to match the existing boho style so her upgrades won’t seem out of place.
While boho is not Anstead’s strong suit, she’s game to give it a try. Here’s how she manages to mix and match decor styles, which might inspire some ideas in your own abode, too.
Matching kitchen cabinets and floors: A new trend?
In an effort to match Sabrina’s artistic style, Anstead decides to take a design risk we’ve never seen her take before: She plans to refinish the kitchen cabinets to match the new wood floors.
“In order for all the wood to work, all the stains need to complement each other,” Anstead says. “Otherwise, it’s going to feel random.”
When the cabinets are finally finished, the look is incredible. It’s certainly a lot of wood for one kitchen, but it looks great.
Go for paneled appliances
With refinished cabinets that match the wood floor, Anstead has firmly established a boho look. Still, she decides to take the look one step further by paneling the fridge with the same material!
“This is one of the first times I’ve done a paneled refrigerator,” Anstead admits. But despite her lack of fridge paneling experience, the result is beautiful.
“It doesn’t even look like a refrigerator. It just looks like a piece of furniture,” Sabrina says.
Break up the boho look with industrial accents
While Sabrina loves boho style, Miguel likes the industrial look, so Anstead is sure to bring in some details for the kitchen. One of those is the pendant lights above the sink—simple and sleek, perfect for this space.
When Sabrina first sees the lights, she’s certainly impressed.
“Those are so beautiful,” she says, “and again, they have that modern with a little bit of that industrial—because of the black.”
When the lights are finally installed, they look perfect. This kitchen is a fabulous combination of both of Sabrina and Miguel’s styles.
Know the right spot for a sink
Often designers organize a kitchen layout so that the sink is situated by the window. It’s usually a great choice because the homeowner can look