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Reusuable water bottles dirtier than dog toys? Answer here

Joanne Richard
Special to The Weather Network

Wednesday, November 1, 2017, 11:23 AM - About to brush your teeth? Put that toothbrush down! 

If you store your toothbrush within six feet of a toilet, those bristles are likely harbouring fecal bacteria! Add to that the fact that they’re also packed with microbes from the mouth.  

Toothbrushes aren’t the only items where germs fester! Water bottles and our mobile devices are mega magnets for microbes and bacteria that can spell trouble. A new study indicates that drinking from a reusable water bottle “can be many times worse than licking your dog’s toy.” TreadmillReviews.net reports that refillable bottles are crawling with bacteria, some potentially harmful.

“Water bottles can accumulate all sorts of germs. Most are from our own mouths and do not pose a threat. But some are opportunistic pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and a group known as fecal coliforms can be detected,” says Jason Tetro, aka The Germ Guy.  

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If you don’t wash your water bottle with warm water and soap after each use, the bacteria can grow to high enough numbers to cause infection. That includes many other items you use on a daily basis, says Tetro, a microbiologist who loves germs. 

“We tend to use certain objects regularly without washing them. This could lead to microbial growth, which could impact your health,” he says. "Although the risk is generally low, it’s still a good idea to wash items regularly – or replace them – to minimize the microbial population and the threat."

Don’t give your toothbrush the brush off.

“Although the majority of these microbe species are harmless, as they come from you, in the environment with a toothbrush is kept, there is potential for contamination with a variety of potential pathogens such as those that cause cavities,” says Tetro, the author of The Germ Code and The Germ Files. 

Run the brush under hot water for a good five seconds both before and after brushing to help reduce the load. Eliminate that fecal shower of water droplets by closing the toilet lid before flushing.

Mobile devices are magnets for microbes - they tend to stick onto the surface and can be picked off with each swipe, he says. 

"There can be pathogens present such as the skin infection Staphylococcus aureus and viruses such as rhinovirus, the cause of the common cold. We can then transfer these pathogens to our bodies through touch," Tetro says. 

Disconnect those germs – simply clean the devices with a disinfectant wipe. 

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Hair brushes are also germ collectors. Using a hair brush collects more than hair, it traps microbes, particularly fungi, says Tetro. 

“Certain types of fungi can cause bumps, rashes, and of course, dandruff. The best way to stay safe isn’t to use dandruff shampoos but to soak those brushes at least one a month in hot water and soap,” he says, adding it will also help to get rid of all those hairs caught in the bristles. 

Sneakers are filled with microbes both from the environment and also from the feet. But these are not pathogenic, just smelly. Keep them fresh by washing them with soap and water. 

“If you do happen to step on fecal matter, make sure to dry them out first and then use a disinfectant – cover your nose and mouth. This can prevent any contaminated particulates from entering the respiratory tract," Tetro says.

Beware the kitchen sponge – it’s one of the germiest things in your home. While most of the germs inside are harmless, Tetro says there is the potential for infection from one particular type of microbe known as Acinetobacter, which can potentially cause respiratory illness particularly in those who have compromised immune systems. The best way to keep these clean is to put them in the microwave for two minutes on high power or to change them about once a week. 

Touch me nots! Other germ infested things: 

  • Ketchup bottles on restaurant tables. Also beware the menu and salt and pepper shakers.
  • Money is dirty, dirty, dirty! It’s covered in bacteria, urine and sweat.
  • Taps and faucets are prime germ hangouts so wipe them down daily. Or better yet, get a touch tap.
  • The vacuum cleaner, the very instrument we depend on to keep us germ free, is actually a germ collector. Clean the hoses and attachments.
  • Carpets and mats are ruthless collectors of everything from skin cells, fecal matter, mold and spores as well as dust mites. Wash often.

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