Health risks of Britons’ disgusting bathroom habits

Woman drinking water from bathroom tap. (Getty Images)
Almost a third of Brits drink water from the bathroom tap but this could be risky for your health. (Getty Images)

We all guilty of taking our phones places we shouldn't (hands up who is reading this article on their phone on the loo?), but turns out us Brits have some other gross bathroom habits that could be opening us up to all sorts of health risks.

A new survey has thrown some light on the nation's most unpleasant behaviours and as well as being pretty unsavoury, our poor hygiene habits could be exposing us to some pretty significant nasties.

National Plastics conducted a meta-analysis of YouGov surveys involving 12,371 Brits and uncovered four of the most common toilet-related quirks.

A fifth of Brits admitted to having a 'gross' bathroom habit, including eating in the loo or being on the toilet during a work meeting.

Drinking water from the bathroom tap is the most common bathroom quirk, with almost a third of Brits owning up to chugging H20 from the toilet tap.

Over a quarter admitted to brushing their teeth just once a day - half the dentist' recommended amount.

Meanwhile 9% take their meals or snacks into the bathroom area and more than one in 10 fess up to being on the loo while in a meeting working from home.

"Many of us cultivate our ‘public face’ in front of the mirror, so it makes sense that the bathroom is where it drops too," explains Harnik Bolla, marketing manager at National Plastics.

"Our bathrooms are a sanctuary within our homes where we can hide away from the world and simply be us (even for a short time)."

"Men, in particular, spend a lot of time in the bathroom and it’s usually because they’re on their phones, whether that’s checking social media, watching videos or scanning the news in the sanctum of the space – so they might think why not fit in a quick coffee and a snack too right?

"It makes sense also that a younger generation, who grew up with smart phones, the internet, and social media, wouldn’t think twice about answering the 'call of nature' while in a virtual call."

The problem is, some of these questionable habits could actually be putting our health at risk.

Over a quarter of Brits admit to only brushing their teeth once a day. (Getty Images)
Over a quarter of Brits admit to only brushing their teeth once a day. (Getty Images)

Only brushing teeth once a day

The NHS recommends brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for about two minutes to help keep your teeth and mouth healthy.

But the recent survey found that over a quarter of us are falling short of this teeth-brushing target, which could be putting more than your pearly whites at risk.

“Only brushing teeth once a day not only allows the stains to build up, it can lead to bad breath, gum disease, diabetes and even Alzheimer’s," warns dentist, James Goolnik.

"Plaque (food and bacteria) builds up during the day and we need to remove this on a regular basis to stop nasty bugs getting a foothold and having a party in our mouths."

While we hear a lot about the gut microbiome, Goolnik says it all starts in the mouth with the oral microbiome.

"We do not want leaking, bleeding gums leading to bacteria getting in our bloodstream and causing systemic diseases," he continues.

"Research shows if you have gum disease you have a 25% higher risk of heart disease, 33% increase in diabetes and 70% increased risk of Alzheimer’s.

"Let’s get in there twice a day and disrupt that bacteria."

Drinking water from the bathroom tap

You would think all drinking water is safe in the UK, but according to GP Dr Raj Arora this really depends on your home.

"For example how old it is and what pipes are carrying the water," she advises. "If it’s coming from a storage tank, there is more likely to be bacteria growing in the tank due to the change in hot and cold water in the supply.

"Secondly, if you have an older home with older pipes, you might be contributing to things like lead in the water of the bathroom. Not a good idea as you could end up with impurities, and lead poisoning which is detrimental to our health," she adds.

Woman eating in the toilet. (Getty Images)
Eating in the toilet can pose some pretty serious health risks. (Getty Images)

Eating in the bathroom

Interestingly, Dr Arora says there’s no technical issue why you can’t eat in the bathroom, unless your toilet isn't the cleanest.

"Bacteria is everywhere and will be on most surfaces within your home, so in theory you wouldn’t be exposing yourself to anymore bacteria unless you have an extremely dirty space as this would put you at risk of faecal oral contamination," she explains.

Not eating in the bathroom therefore reduces the risk of being contact with these kind of bacteria th, which can cause serious issues like E coli.

"Hands touching the mouth after wiping can lead to bacteria transfer and illness," Dr Arora warns.

Conducting a work meeting on the toilet

Research from Kastus reveals that us Brits are so attached to technology we pick up our phones every 12 minutes, so much so that around 12% of men and 11% of women admit to holding a work meeting while on the toilet.

The problem is almost a third of us have never once cleaned our phone (or laptops for that matter), so you can just imagine the nasties our gadgets could be riddled with, particularly as germs live on smooth surfaces like mobile phone or laptop screens for up to 28 days.

While many of the pathogens found on technology can be harmless, some can lead to some pretty nasty health ailments.

Previous research papers have indicated that some of the most common pathogens found on mobile phones are: Staphylococcus – the most commonly found strain is staphylococcus aureus – a common cause of skin infections including abscesses, respiratory infections such as sinusitis, and food poisoning.

Woman using the loo while in a virtual work meeting. (Getty Images)
Over one in 10 Brits admit to using the loo while in a virtual work meeting. (Getty Images)

So do we need to go technology/loo cold turkey?

Not necessarily as long as we try to cut down on our toilet meeting time and practice good hand hygiene.

"Hand hygiene is vitally important," Dr Colm Moore area technical manager for Initial Washroom Hygiene previously told Yahoo UK.

"Washing your hands regularly is one of the most powerful steps people can take to help prevent the spread of bacteria and illness. We recommend washing your hands at least five times a day, as well as every time you use the bathroom.

"And of course, it helps to give your phone a regular clean with an antibacterial wipe."