Don’t Forget To Do These Hygiene Habits Every Day

In 2019, research in BioMed Research International found that the largest cause of bad hygiene was lack of knowledge. At least 63% of people who struggle with personal hygiene simply don’t know how to care for themselves.

Personal hygiene not only makes you presentable, but it also prevents illness. Even the “basics,” such as washing your hands, are not done correctly by 97% of Americans. Are you doing these habits every day? Are you doing them at all? Improve your cleanliness tenfold by learning about daily hygiene habits.

Rotate Shoes And Socks Every Day

While wearing the same pair of shoes every day may be convenient, podiatrists advise against it. The CEO of the American Podiatric Medical Association, James Christina, said that the sweat in shoes needs to dry before you wear them again. Otherwise, our feet smell worse, and we’re at a higher risk of foot fungi.

A college student takes shoes out of his closet.
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Rotating shoes also helps them last longer, Dr. Christina told TODAY. After we wear shoes, the cushions inside flatten, and they take around a day to re-inflate. If you can’t alternate shoes, make sure that they’re well aired out before you wear them again.

The Best Way To Brush Your Teeth

According to the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth twice a day. But your dental health won’t go far if you don’t brush your teeth correctly. One common mistake, according to dentist Matt Messina, is that people scrub too hard. Massage your teeth gently; don’t scrub.

Two girls brush their teeth together.
Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Another common mistake is rushing through the process. The American Dental Association recommends brushing for around two minutes. And remember to stick to twice a day. According to a survey by Hello Products, one in ten millennials only brush once a day.

Are You Washing Your Hands Enough?

Many people know to wash their hands after using the restroom. But if that’s the only time you wash your hands, then you’re not doing it often enough. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, you should also wash your hands before making or eating food, after coughing or sneezing, after playing with animals, and after handling garbage.

A child washes her hands before dinner.
Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Our hands can spread illnesses to other areas of the body. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, our forearm has more bacteria than anywhere else on our body. Before touching your face or eyes, or caring for a wound, wash your hands.

Cough And Sneeze Into Your Elbow, Not Your Hands

Here’s some hygiene advice from the Centers for Disease Control: never cough or sneeze into your hands. When we cough or sneeze, we expel tons of infectious droplets, according to MIT researchers. These droplets spread to our hands, which then go on everything we touch–food, tables, desks, you name it.

A little girl coughs into her elbow.

According to the NSW Ministry of Health, you need to sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Ideally, you can cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away. If that’s not possible, using your elbow will create fewer contagions than your hands.

Brush Your Tongue

If you brush your teeth and floss every day, you may still be missing a step to oral hygiene: brushing your tongue. According to registered dental hygienist Tenika Patterson, the tongue harbors a lot of bacteria. Most are healthy bacteria, although some can prompt tooth decay, gum inflammation, and bad breath.

A woman brushes her tongue with a toothbrush.

A study in Tropical Dental Journal found that brushing your tongue (called tongue scraping) improved peoples’ breath more than brushing teeth. Giving your tongue a couple of swipes is enough to do the job, according to Cleveland Clinic.

You’re Probably Washing Your Hands Incorrectly.

It’s no secret that people need to wash their hands at least a couple of times per day. But according to a USDA report, 97% of Americans wash their hands incorrectly. In short, most people wash them too quickly, which doesn’t get rid of enough germs.

A man washes his hands in a sink.

The Centers for Disease Control advise washing your hands for at least 20 seconds. This allows enough time for the soap to remove all the nasty bacteria. For an easy timer, hum the “Happy Birthday” song to yourself. Remember to scrub between under your nails and between your fingers, too.

Wash Your Face Twice A Day

Whether or not you wear makeup, you should aim to wash your face twice a day, according to the Texas A&M University Health Center. At night, you scrub off all the sweat, dirt, and pollutants from the day. But why should you wash your face in the morning?

A Nigerian fashion model washes her face.
Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Esthetician Alicia Yoon told Well and Good that bacteria grows on our pillows overnight. As our bodies release toxins, they gather on our pillows and stay on our faces. By washing your face gently in the morning, your skin will be cleaner and healthier.

The Health Benefits Of Brushing Your Hair Daily

Hair brushing isn’t just for looks; it promotes hair health in people of any gender. Consultant trichologist David Adams says that brushing spreads healthy oil through your hair. This stops the scalp from growing too oily, and the brush removes dead hairs to improve your overall hygiene.

A woman brushes her hair while looking in a mirror.
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

So how often should you brush your hair? Adams told Sunday Edit that, in general, people should brush their hair twice a day: once in the morning and once at night. Those with long or unruly hair may want to brush more often, whereas people with short hair can get away with the occasional grooming.

Wash Your Feet

According to health experts, you should wash your feet daily, and that doesn’t mean letting soap fall on your feet in the shower. Infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh A. Adalja told SELF that bacteria build on feet. These bacteria create odor and poses the risk of athlete’s foot and staph infection.

A man washes his feet before entering a mosque.
Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images
Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images

Washing your feet also removes the dead skin cells, which can prevent shoe odor, too. So how should you do it? According to the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, use mild soap and scrub between the toes. When you dry your feet, make sure the toes are dry, too.

Stop Touching Your Face (Unless You Wash Your Hands First)

Every time you rest your chin in your hands or touch your eye, millions of germs spread to your face. According to dermatologist Ava Shamban, bacteria and viruses transfer to your face this way. Usually, they just worsen acne and irritation, but they can also spread dermatitis and herpes.

An Italian actress touches her face.
Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio
Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio

“There are a lot of chemicals and irritants that get on our hands all day long that don’t belong on the face,” says Elizabeth Tanzi, the director and founder of Capital Laser & Skin Care. If you can, try to touch your face as little as possible.

Don’t Shower Daily, Unless It’s After Exercise

Although two-thirds of Americans shower every day, it provides no health benefit, says Harvard Health Publishing. Dermatologists warn that washing your skin every day strips the healthy bacteria, as well as the bad ones. As a result, skin can become dry, make us prone to allergins, and lower our skin’s immune system.

Water flows out of  a shower head.

The chief of dermatologic surgery at Yale, David Leffell, tells Business Insider that the purpose of showering is to eliminate dirt and sweat. Hence, people need to shower after exercising and handling dirty tools or chemicals. Otherwise, you can shower every day or two without worry.

Clean Your Phone Daily

How often do you use your phone? During meals, out in public, in the bathroom? If so, you may want to wipe down your phone once a day. In an interview with Time, microbiology professor Philip Tierno recommended wiping your phone down daily. If you don’t use your phone while eating, you don’t have to be that diligent.

A person cleans their phone with a cloth.

Don’t spray your device; instead, wipe it down with a disinfectant wipe or spray a paper towel before applying. Tierno said that he’s been cleaning his phone twice a day for years, and he has never damaged it.

Throw Out Your Washcloth

Although washcloths can help exfoliate dead skin, they’re not worth using over time. After each wash, the bacteria and skin cells remain on the washcloth. “Bacteria multiply remarkably fast and usually within 20-30 minutes,” says aesthetic doctor Michael Barnish. “So you can imagine after 24 hours the growth of these bugs.”

An athlete wipes the back of his neck with a washcloth.
Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images
Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

Over time, these harmful bacteria return to the skin, prompting acne, inflammation, and potential inflammation. If you want to use a washcloth, rinse it with hot water after each wash, and ensure that it fully dries before you use it again.

Apply Deodorant At Night

It seems like common sense to put on deodorant in the morning so you can smell nice throughout the day. According to dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, deodorant is best applied on dry skin. On wet skin, the deodorant won’t soak in as well, which leads to more body odor.

A woman applies roll-on deodorant.
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Dr. Schlessinger advises against applying deodorant after a shower or shaving. Many deodorants have high alcohol content, which could irritate skin that’s sensitive after shaving, explains dermatologist Alisha Plotner. Let the deodorant soak in overnight, and if you miss the nice smell in the morning, you can reapply it.

Invest In An Electric Toothbrush

In the past, many sites have said that regular and electric toothbrushes produce the same results. But in 2014, scientists came to a different conclusion after analyzing 56 studies. They found that using electric toothbrushes lowers plaque by 11% and the chance of gingivitis (gum inflammation) by 21%.

A woman applies toothpaste to an electric toothbrush.
allOver/ullstein bild via Getty Images
allOver/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Some electric toothbrushes also have a built-in timer, so you don’t over-brush. According to dental advisor Jay Friedman, excessive brushing can make your teeth more sensitive. If you can, consider buying an electric toothbrush to improve your dental hygiene.

Carry Tissues, Not Handkerchiefs

The Centers for Disease Control recommends keeping disposable tissues around. After you sneeze or cough into one, throw it out to prevent the spread of germs. You can also use tissues to touch your face or rub your eye gently without worry. Handkerchiefs, however, are a different matter.

A man uses a tissue.

Although handkerchiefs seem convenient and gentlemanly, they only carry germs with you. Beth Foley, vice president of the Fallon Community Health Wellness Plan, said it best: “better in your wastebasket than in your pocket.” Carry around disposable tissues instead.

Do You Need To Floss Daily?

In 2016, the FDA dropped the dietary recommendation to floss every day. According to Harvard Health Publishing, this was due to the lack of substantial studies done on flossing. That said, dental experts don’t agree; the American Dental Association still advises people to floss once a day.

A woman pulls out floss from a container.
Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Ramesh Sharma/The India Today Group via Getty Images

“Food that’s left between teeth causes gum inflammation and tooth decay,” says dentistry professor Siven Finkel. “Flossing is the only way to remove it. A toothbrush just can’t get between teeth.” In short, it doesn’t hurt to floss once a day to keep your teeth clean.

Clean Your Contact Lenses

Whenever you take out contacts, you need to clean them before putting them back in, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Rub, rinse, and disinfect your lenses every time you remove them,” says Dr. David Tanzer of Abbott’s vision.

A woman puts in a contact lens.

Using a solution is the easiest way to clean contact lenses daily. Just make sure that you replace the solution every day. Before you remove contact lenses, always wash your hands. Never wet contacts with spit or bottled water, as those aren’t sterile.

Remove Makeup Before The Gym

It’s easy to jump from work to the gym without giving makeup a second thought. However, dermatologists recommend removing makeup before exercising. According to Dr. Whitney Bowe, makeup prevents your skin from releasing sweat. Since your skin can’t breathe, it may result in irritation, breakouts, and oily skin.

A woman with makeup on lifts weights.
Alexander RyuminTASS via Getty Images
Alexander RyuminTASS via Getty Images

Bowe adds that sweat-proof makeup doesn’t make a difference; it still harms your skin and leaves you feeling oilier than exercising without makeup. If you go from work to the gym, bring some makeup wipes with you.

Only Use Hand Sanitizers As A Backup

Americans buy around $117 million worth in hand sanitizer every year. While it can keep some germs at bay, it doesn’t work as well as washing your hands. Microbiologist Jason Tetro reported that hand sanitizers only kill between 40% and 60% of germs, and they only last minutes.

A boy uses hand sanitizer at a kitchen table as his parents smile in the background.
Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images
Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

That doesn’t mean that they’re useless, however. If you can’t wash your hands, you may use hand sanitizer before meals or after a trip to the gas station. Dermatologist Dr. Jeffrey Benabio recommends using enough to lather on your hands for 20 seconds without drying.