“If you don’t like bacteria, you’re on the wrong planet.” Stewart Brand
I clean my bathrooms every week: scrub everything down and mop the floors. But I have never cleaned my shower head. I know, right? What? We have to clean the shower head now? Yep. How is it that I come across such strange things as this Colorado University at Boulder study from 2009? It caught my attention and got me thinking about the possibility that my shower head may be harboring dangerous pathogens. The study randomly selected plastic and metal shower heads from homes and public places in several states and analyzed the microbes living inside. Wha?? There was some yucky stuff in there, specifically mycobacterium avium, a lovely little pathogen linked to lung disease. The study observed that if your shower head happens to be an incubator for these bacteria, that first spray of shower water in the face could be pretty hazardous to your health, not to mention all of the breathing you do during a nice hot shower, lodging those babies deep into your lungs. Not trying to freak you out or anything, this is just information.
This information caused me to immediately deep clean my shower heads with a vinegar and hot water solution. Then just for good measure I wrapped baggies with pure vinegar around the shower heads overnight to kill anything that I may have missed. I know what you are thinking: vinegar? Wouldn’t bleach be better? Well, first of all, bleach is harmful to the environment and in this particular study, the use of bleach seemed to coincide with these sweet little, dangerous, bacterium tripling in number! In other words, they liked the bleach and it helped them multiply. That’s quite unnerving. A monthly maintenance of overnight vinegar baggies is said to do the trick. And if you happen to have hard water (like me), it loosens the icky scale on the shower head that can sometimes block some of the water spigots. If none of this fits into your bathroom maintenance schedule, you can always just take baths or forego bathing at all.
I can’t think about this too much….