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Tria Giovan

Your Bathtub

Shocking, but true: The place you go to get clean is quite dirty. In a recent study, Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D., found staphylococcus bacteria, a common cause of serious skin infections, in 26% of the tubs she tested, as compared with just 6% of garbage cans. Tubs typically had more than 100,000 bacteria per square inch! “It makes sense when you think about it,” she says. “You’re washing germs and viruses off your body. The tub is a fairly moist environment, so bacteria can grow.”

Once a week, apply a disinfecting cleaner to the tub. “You need to actually scrub, then you need to wash the germs down the drain with water and dry the tub with a clean towel. If you leave the tub wet, germs are more likely to survive,” Scott says. Pay special attention to soap scum -- a surprisingly germ-friendly environment, author Phiilp Tierno, Ph.D., adds. If someone who uses the tub has a skin infection, scrub it afterward with a solution of two tablespoons bleach in one quart of water.

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