Everyone does it – that smart phone goes everywhere, even the loo!
But what are the risks?
If you take your phone to the toilet then you risk getting it covered in germs (or dropping it down the loo)! However, for many people this may be the one time they can have a sneaky look at their messages when at work, and I doubt people will take much notice about not taking it to the loo.
The Hygiene Doctor takes on the risky subject of poo!
Recently I was watching the Oscar-winning film The Help and was laughing at the scene where Minny cooks the fateful poo pie. Like most people I was horrified at the thought of eating poo, but it got me thinking that in many circumstances, people may be unconsciously doing just that!
Many of the home hygiene studies we do have identified faecal contamination in some fairly surprising places around the home, garden and even on items in handbags!
Faecal contamination is the posh word for “poo”. So how is poo getting around the house?
Wash your hands after using the toilet
It’s so basic you might think I’m wasting my time talking about it, but you would be amazed at the high number of Britons who don’t actually wash their hands after going to the toilet. A recent study showed that as many as 26% of UK hands have faecal matter on them at any one time. That’s around 16.5million pairs of hands!
If you don’t wash your hands, faeces can easily transfer to food, or to crockery and cutlery which means the chances of ingestion are high and if someone is carrying a nasty bug such as norovirus then it can quickly do the rounds. Even if you haven’t done a “number 2” then the person using the facilities before you may have, leaving bacteria on the toilet flush and door handle!
It is especially important to teach children the importance of hand washing as that way they will carry the good habits on into adulthood. I recently went into a school to do a hand washing science session, with some surprising results. You can read more about that visit on my school blog.
Many schools have a policy that children may not return to school until 48 hours after the child has had no symptoms of food poisoning. However, it is known that norovirus and other dangerous food poisoning organisms can be carried for many days, if not weeks after the symptoms were showing. Even more worrying, it is estimated that around 16% of the population carry norovirus without having any symptoms.
So the important message is (sorry) HAND WASHING, HAND WASHING, HAND WASHING!
How to Wash your Hands
Hand washing doesn’t mean a quick swill under the tap:
Wet the hands
Put on soap
Rub your hands together
Rub in between the fingers
In your palms, interlock your fingers to rub soap into your nails
Lather round your thumbs and fingertips
Dry on a clean towel or better still a paper towel.
Watch this video to see how you should wash your hands:
If someone is ill
Hand washing is even more important if you or anyone in your family is ill with any infectious disease from colds and flu to food poisoning.
Is it worth it you may ask? Well think about how much money illness can cost, let alone the pain and suffering!
Here are some of the financial costs:
Time off work
Time off work looking after children
Prescriptions and over-the counter medication
Travel to hospital, doctor, chemist
Parking at the hospital, doctors or chemists
Additional cleaning and laundry
Missing clubs, activities and special events you have paid for
Missing nursery or childcare you have paid for
So spending a little time washing your hands is worth it!
Over the last 20 years the British public have become much, much better at cleaning up after their dogs, but there is still a risk from the poo bins that you find in most public spaces, as with so many ‘deposits’ being made into these there is a risk of contamination on the lids and sides. Sadly I don’t have a dog at the moment, but here are some practical tips for dealing with poo!Read more
Dr Lisa Ackerley says make sure you’re not making your home dirtier when cleaning up!
Make sure your kitchen cloth is not used for the floor
Recently my PA told me about how she got into a bit of a strop with her boyfriend when she caught him using the dishcloth on the floor. As she rightly pointed out, as she had just walked in with her outdoor shoes on, effectively if he had used the same cloth for cleaning the dishes, it was like having the bottom of her trainers being rubbed all over the teaspoons, and of course, we all know that trainers could have been walked though anything!
How dirty is your cloth?
In our home hygiene studies we have found that the cloth is often the dirtiest item in the home. We have found billions of bacteria on cloths, including those which could cause illness, and those that indicate faecal contamination. Faecal contamination means that either bacteria have been picked up directly from faeces (poo) or from raw meat or vegetables that have been in contact with faeces. Either way, it’s not good. In effect, using a contaminated cloth could mean that instead of cleaning you are effectively “dirtying.” What a waste of time, and what a potential danger to your family!
Top Tips for Cloths
Make sure that you always use separate cloths for high risk cleaning areas such as the floor, or the toilet – use different types and colours so it is obvious
For floor spillages, use paper towels or wipes that you throw away
If you have been preparing raw meat or poultry, treat the area as very dirty, and use anti-bacterial sprays and paper towels or anti-bacterial wipes
Wash cloths on a hot wash – over 60°C, preferably on a boil wash to get them free of dangerous bacteria
It might seem like an extra chore, but it could make all the difference to your family’s health.