TODAY   |  December 06, 2010

Is your bathroom as clean as you think?

TODAY’s Natalie Morales talks with microbiologist Joe Rubino about ways to keep your bathroom clean and stop the spread of germs and bacteria.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> morning on "today's" healthy home, is your bahama throom as clean as you think? some people say they avoid using the bathroom in other people's homes. germs , they're everywhere and impossible to avoid. and while you might do more to protect yourself from them in public places, what about the germs lurking in your own homes? working mother dana vessey has nicknamed her home as chaos man manor.

>> when you have a family, the bathroom, the toilet, the sink, anything can turn up there.

>> her cleaning routine?

>> i clean my own bathroom once a week and i keep it up once a day , a little bit. i try not to think about the germ factor.

>> reporter: but like it or not, germs do exist. so we looked at microbiologist joe ravine know to take a look. he inspected the item that gets the most use.

>> one thing about toilets, the flushing of the bowl, it generates aerosols so those droplets can become airborne. they can land on the toilet seat , they can land on a sink area.

>> so you're telling me that fecal matter in the toilet can jump out on to the sink?

>> i would move those toothbrushes a little further away.

>> what we know from the bathtub is that the bacteria that's on our body will stick on the tub and stay there.

>> a bacteria soup.

>> your bath mat , you should pull that out over the side of the bathtub just so it dries so the bacteria underneath there don't thrive in a nice, warm, wet environment.

>> reporter: and next the cleaning products.

>> when you wash your hands, sometimes the bacteria will stick to them. you might think about throwing it out every couple of weeks or if it starts to look dirty.

>> what do the tests reveal?

>> we'll take it back to the lab and we'll find out how many back tiera we found. we can never sterilize our bathroom, like we can never sterilize our house. but it's important to keep those bacteria at a minimum.

>> good morning to you. so you're ready to hear your resu results? as we mentioned, joe tested your bathroom and your son's bathroom. we expect to find germs in our bathroom, but when is it harmful?

>> the gheerms that are in our bathroom are our own germs . when someone has a stomach problem, those germs that are making them sick can be transmitted or someone else can pick them up.

>> i have been doing the faucets and cleaning and all of that. let's get to the results. you found high amounts of bacteria in the bathtub area as you mentioned. can you give us the exact results?

>> we found high numbers of bacteria that love water. so it's not unusual to find it in the bathtub. we found it on the bath mat .

>> under that bath mat that we saw. and she's been putting it over the side as you instructed her to do. and you found that's making a difference?

>> i don't know. i don't have a relationship with the germs .

>> let's hope it stays that way.

>> it will make a difference because it will dry out. and once it's dry, the germs will not grow, and will in fact begin to die.

>> and another thing joe told you to do as well is place the toothbrushes and all of that further away from the toilet. and so the reality is, it's really hard to keep these water -- the aerosoled water from being spread throughout. i mean it's going to happen, right?

>> well, it is. there's a couple of things that can be done. first keep the lid down when you flush, because that will capture most of the air flow and mist back in the bowl. the other thing that can be done -- those bacteria are going to stick to the top of the bowl. take a spray or wipe, do that before you flush, because when they hit the top, they're going to come in contact with the disinfectant.

>> how often should you clean and disinfect your bathroom. once a week you should do a thorough cleaning, but on a daily basis, you should wipe down surfaces, things that become contaminated with germs , with a wipe or a spray.

>> and let's move on to dina's son's bathroom. the testing there found widespread contamination around the toilet as you would expect as well as on the sink faucette handle.

>> keep the lid down on the toilet when it's flushed. what we did find was some of these type of bacteria on the door handle which is right next to the toilet. this is a small bathroom. and again, this is coming from the toilet. the aerosolization of the bowl water.

>> and also washing the hands, right, if you're using the doorknob too?

>> we knew that hand washing was going on regularly there because we found these kind of bacteria on the faucet handle. we saw plenty of soap so we know that the hygiene in the home is practiced very well.

>> you're doing a good job, and your sons are doing a good job as well. but the bottom line is you can't get rid of all the germs in your bathroom as you might expect.