We spend much of our lives in our bedrooms and bathrooms, sleeping, bathing, putting on make-up and getting dressed. But, if these two rooms in our homes – and the items in them – aren’t cleaned well, it can have detrimental effects on our health, from triggering allergies to causing skin infections. For a fresher space, try these handy tips from Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth, and the SweepStars who keep thousands of homes clean every week.
Clean out your make-up
Your pretty makeup collection may be the last place you’d expect nasties to be crawling around. However, experts warn that dirty makeup brushes can wreak havoc on the skin. The brushes you use to contour and apply blush, powder and eye colour trap product residue, skin oils and cells, and general dirt in their bristles — the ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, dirty brushes could lead to acne breakouts and rashes, and even cause a fungal infection, E. coli, or a staph infection, which can be serious. If you wear makeup daily, clean your brushes every seven to 10 days, says Aisha. Gently wash them with mild baby shampoo, then rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. Lie the brushes on a towel, and leave to air dry.
Makeup products need attention, too
It’s not just make-up brushes that need a clean out, your products do, too. A study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology looked at the presence of bacteria in makeup products (lipstick, lip gloss, eyeliners, mascaras and beauty blenders) and found that 70% to 90% contained fungus and bacteria, including E. coli — which can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and respiratory illnesses.
The study highlighted beauty blenders, citing that 93% had not been cleaned and 64% had been dropped on the floor and continued to be used! Discard any old make-up that’s in your collection. Most make-up doesn’t have an expiry date, but be vigilant about how long it lasts. Switch out mascaras and liquid eyeliners every six months. Lipsticks will last a year, while blush, eyeshadow and foundation will last for two years.
Wash your sheets and PJs
You might not want to think about it, but sheets, pillows and PJs can be full of dead skin cells, unwanted germs and tiny dust mites. Dust mites increase your risk of suffering from allergies, hay fever and asthma, and the germs and bacteria found in dirty sheets and bedding can cause you to become ill. Additionally, the microorganisms in dead skin cells could cause health issues, so make sure to regularly wash your pajamas and bedding and air your bedroom, advises Aisha.
Bathrooms are hotbeds for microbial growth but it’s particularly creepy to think that you may not be alone while you’re showering… with germs swarming on the floor and walls, and lurking unseen in the showerhead! Scientists from Manchester University have found that slime build-up inside showers can contain bacteria and fungi linked to a range of illnesses, including Legionnaires and Crohn’s Disease, as well as general skin, hair, eyes and ear complaints. With germs thriving in such a wet environment, Aisha advises that you regularly clean your shower’s interior with a bathroom disinfectant, not forgetting a shower’s two prime germ locations: the floor and shower curtain.
While you’re in the bathroom, make sure to clean out your toothbrush holder, says Aisha. Many of us forget to clean this one item, yet toothbrush holders can be laden with harmful bacteria, including Salmonella and mold. In a US study that looked at items in the home that contained germs, toothbrush holders beat tap handles and light switches for being bacteria traps.
Shine a brighter light
Dusting light bulbs in your bathroom and bedroom may be the last thing you think of cleaning in your home, but a surprising amount of dust accumulates on bulbs, dimming their glow over time. If you’re using long-lasting LED bulbs, they may not be changed for years, points out Aisha. Simply make sure the lights are off, then gently dust the bulb with a soft dry cloth.
While cleaning may not be your favourite chore, numerous studies show that its benefits go beyond just having an immaculate home. University College London researchers found that active cleaning for as little as 20 minutes can have a positive impact on your mental health and reduce stress and anxiety by up to 20%. Another study found that having a fresh-smelling, clean home has short-term and long-term benefits for mental health, including immediate improved mood.