This is the filthiest part of your bathroom — and it may surprise you

PETERBOROUGH, United Kingdom — A dirty and disgusting bathroom is enough to make any person squirm, but which spot is really the dirtiest? A new study reveals it’s not the toilet and it’s not the sink. The germiest place in your bathroom is likely the spot where you hang your towels!

A study and survey, conducted by electric heating specialists Rointe, reveals the filthiest area in terms of bacteria and grime is either a bathroom radiator or towel rail. Moreover, researchers find these common spots where towels hang to dry off are among the places people rarely clean while scrubbing the bathroom.

Researchers explain that damp towels are an ideal breeding ground for harmful microorganisms and bacteria. Towel racks and radiators therefore tend to attract a bunch of dust, grime, mold, and mildew. All of this can lead to irritated skin and even illnesses for people who don’t thoroughly clean these bacteria breeding grounds.

Towel racks are ‘really dirty’

Rointe swab experiment
(Credit: Rointe)

To see just where the dirt lives in the average bathroom, Rointe specialists swabbed five entire bathrooms for bacteria. Using color-changing swabs to measure bacteria levels, the team discovered that 60 percent of towel rails and radiators were in the dark purple (or “really dirty”) category. Another 10 percent fell into the light purple “dirty” category.

For comparison, just 10 percent of toilets tested were found to be “really dirty” and 20 percent actually finished in the green (or “clean”)! The study shows sink plugholes rank as the next dirtiest place in a bathroom, with 50 percent of drains classifying as “really dirty.”

It’s not all dirt and grime in the bathroom. The study finds showerheads and sink taps are the cleanest items in the typical bathroom. Not a single one fell into the “really dirty” category.

With those results in mind, researchers recommend that people clean their bathroom radiators and towel racks or railings at least three times a month.

Spotty cleans habits may be to blame

Although 69 percent of respondents say the coronavirus pandemic is making them more conscious of proper cleaning techniques, the Rointe team finds not everyone is scrubbing all the areas of their bathrooms equally.

In a poll of 1,000 British adults, 11 percent say they only clean their towel railings once a month. Another 17 percent say they clean their bathroom radiator once a month and seven percent admit they never clean the radiator. Less than three in 10 people clean these areas once a week.

Conversely, one in three respondents clean their toilet daily! Another 30 percent scrub the bathtub weekly and 26 percent even clean off their door handles every seven days.

“Bathroom radiators and towel rails should be cleaned at least three times per month. Ideally, you would add your entire bathroom to your weekly cleaning routine. This will allow you to keep the germs at bay and make your cleaning sessions shorter on average,” says Antoaneta Tsocheva, Founder of the South-East’s largest domestic cleaning firms, FastKlean, in a statement.

“On top of the usual suspects like dust, grime, mold and mildew you also need to think about germs and bacteria – the bathroom itself is a damp environment and so are the towels you hang on your radiator or rail. It’s the ideal environment for microorganisms and bacteria – things you definitely don’t want near your face.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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