March 08, 2013
Riya V. Anandwala

Bring Back Spring Cleaning This Season, Says SLU Germ Expert

ST. LOUIS - A few decades ago, deep cleaning was a rite of spring. Curtains and bedding were stripped down to remove the winter's dust and dirt. Today, the practice is much less common.

"People these days just don't take time out from their busy schedule to clean," says Donna Duberg, germ expert at Saint Louis University.

Germs are still growing, invading your privacy and advancing into your comfort zone. And bathrooms are one of their popular spots. They gather in the bathtub, shower, toilet - just about everywhere.

SLU's Germ Expert Donna Duberg offers spring cleaning
tips for the bathroom.

This spring Duberg offers some simple ways to do your spring cleaning and make your bathroom germ-free. 

Don't overkill: It's good to be enthusiastic about cleaning your bathroom, but don't overdo it. If you use too many cleaners and don't dilute them, you risk the chance of inhaling the fumes of the cleaners, which can affect your lungs. Duberg, who is assistant professor of clinical laboratory science at SLU, says keep the windows open while cleaning or plug in fans to avoid breathing in the chemicals. "These chemicals are carcinogenic, they can affect your endocrine and nervous system," Duberg said.

Simplify cleaning: Engage in basic cleaning such as disinfecting and removing visible dirt regularly, to make spring cleaning less cumbersome. As spring sets in, brace yourself to clear the scum, lime scale - mostly found on your shower curtains, and mold stuck in and around your bathtub. Duberg says they hold on to bacteria and can cause fungi to grow.

Use wisely: Duberg suggests reading the label carefully to understand how to use a product effectively. "The label will have information on how long the sanitizer needs to stay on the surface and how to dilute the product," she said.

Clean it again: Duberg says, wipe the areas of the bathroom frequently if someone using them is sick. Instead of using a cloth towel to dry hands, offer the person paper towels to limit the spread of germs. She also suggests drying off your toothbrush and putting it away. "If you leave it out in the bathroom, the aerosols from flushing the toilet with the lid up (there are approximately 3 million bacteria per square inch in most toilet bowls) will float over all the surfaces including your toothbrush," said Duberg. "It's time to break the cycle of infection!"

Bleach it right: Use bleach to kill germs when someone in the house is ill. After using 10 percent bleach solution, remember to wash the surface with hot, soapy water as bleach is not safe for children and pets. Also, bleach solutions need to be made fresh and used within 24 hours.

Magic ingredient: Vinegar, when mixed with water can do wonders for the surfaces. Spray a mixture of one part white distilled vinegar nine parts water to see a nice shine on your bath tub or floor. Undiluted white distilled vinegar mixed with baking soda, it can be used to remove scum. "The fewer the cleaning products, the better," says Duberg. "Vinegar is inexpensive, is not harmful to kids and pets and always leaves a shine"

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