By now, you're probably on autopilot when it comes to your bathroom routine. But are your ingrained habits the cleanest ones? Take care to make sure you're not making these icky missteps.
1. You don't shut the toilet lid when you flush.
In a recent Scrubbing Bubbles survey, 60 percent of respondents indicated that they skip this important hygienic habit. And this is a big deal: If you leave the lid up when you flush, germy water particles (and, err, whatever else is in the toilet) can spray across the room — up to 6 feet away from the toilet. This fact was first discussed in a 1975 study completed by germ expert Dr. Charles Gerba, and has been proven time and again. He and his team found that bacteria can linger in the air long enough to settle in a filthy film all around the room—so make sure everyone in your household is onboard with a lid-down flushing protocol
2. You store your toothbrush in the medicine cabinet.
You might think this a clever way to keep toilet bacteria from reaching your brush, but you could be trading one ill-advised move for another. Trapped in a cabinet or container, your brush may not be able to dry between uses, creating a welcome environment for bacteria. The American Dental Association recommends storing toothbrushes in an upright position, and not touching other brushes, to mitigate the risk of cross-contamination. And shut that toilet lid!
3. You leave your makeup and brushes out on the counter.
Anything you apply to your face should be kept out of the path of toilet germs too. Plus, if you store your makeup in your bathroom, the room's moisture can make it even more susceptible to bacteria growth. Keep beauty supplies out of grime's way in drawers or boxes, and clean brushes and replace makeup as necessary.
4. You use your loofah for way too long.
Bacteria just loves breeding on these fluffy mesh shower staples, which are designed to hold in soap and water to help you lather up. Toss them every three to four weeks.
5. You let your towels dry on hooks.
Laundering your bath towels after every three uses is a good rule of thumb, but only if you hang them spread out to dry on a towel bar. If you hang them on hooks, moisture (and any excess soap that's collected) can stay trapped between the folds, which could lead to mildew and bacteria growth.
6. You never run the fan.
If you haven't already figured out, bathroom moisture can cause a host of yucky issues. So run the fan (or open a window) while you shower and for 15 to 20 minutes afterward.
7. You never clean the shower curtain.
The Scrubbing Bubbles survey also revealed that 42 percent of their respondents neglect this unassuming item. Feeling lazy about scrubbing residue away? Good news: You can often toss shower curtains in the washing machine. To keep mildew at bay for longer, pull the curtain across your tub (not scrunched to one side) between showers so it can air dry thoroughly.
8. You use your cell phone in the bathroom.
If you catch up on Instagram or go a few rounds in Candy Crush while sitting on the toilet, consider this: Anything you take into the bathroom can get contaminated with lingering germs or fecal matter (16 percent of cell phones have it, according to a 2011 study). And even if you wash your hands after every bathroom break, we're guessing you don't also disinfect your phone … and then you put it to your face when your mom calls later on. Ew.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.