One Trick That Might Save Your Life After Coming Home from Vacation

In our busy lives, it’s easy to overlook certain aspects of our daily routines. One area that often gets neglected is the maintenance of our showers. However, recent research has shown that failing to properly care for our showers can have serious health consequences. Microbiologist Dr. Tom Makin has shed light on the dangers of stagnant water in shower heads and the potential for bacteria to thrive.

Understanding the Risks of Legionella

Legionella is a type of bacteria that can cause severe respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia. It thrives in warm water environments, such as shower heads and garden hoses. When left untreated, it can lead to organ failure and even death. According to the World Health Organization, the number of Legionella cases has been on the rise, possibly due to the increasing preference for showers over baths.

The Ritual of Shower Maintenance

Dr. Tom Makin, a renowned microbiologist, has shared a simple yet effective ritual that he follows every time he returns from a vacation. He leaves his shower running for 20 minutes without getting into it and avoids entering the bathroom for another 20 minutes after turning it off. This process allows the water in the shower head to flush out any stagnant water that may have become contaminated with Legionella bacteria.

The Science Behind the Ritual

The rationale behind Dr. Makin’s ritual is to reduce the risk of inhaling Legionella bacteria. When water sits stagnant in a shower head, it provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria to multiply. By running the shower for an extended period, the water is effectively flushed out, reducing the concentration of bacteria. Waiting for an additional 20 minutes before re-entering the bathroom allows any remaining bacteria to disperse, further minimizing the risk of exposure.

Increased Risk During Summer Months

It is important to note that the risk of Legionella contamination is higher during the summer months. Legionella bacteria thrive in temperatures between 68°F and 113°F, making warm weather the perfect breeding ground. Garden hoses and sprinkler systems are also potential sources of contamination, as they can harbor stagnant water and provide an environment conducive to bacterial growth.

Taking Precautions to Protect Yourself

While Dr. Makin’s ritual is a simple and effective way to reduce the risk of Legionella exposure, there are additional precautions you can take to further protect yourself and your family. Here are some key steps to consider:

  1. Clean and disinfect your shower head regularly: Use a mild detergent and a brush to scrub away any buildup and bacteria. Rinse thoroughly and disinfect with a solution of bleach and water.
  2. Check for signs of mold or mildew: Regularly inspect your bathroom for any signs of mold or mildew growth. These can be indicators of excess moisture, which can contribute to bacterial growth.
  3. Maintain proper ventilation: Ensure that your bathroom is well-ventilated to reduce humidity levels and prevent the buildup of moisture. Use extractor fans or open windows during and after showering.
  4. Use a water filter: Consider installing a water filter in your shower to remove impurities and reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. This can be especially beneficial for individuals with compromised immune systems or respiratory conditions.
  5. Seek professional help if needed: If you suspect that your water system may be contaminated with Legionella or other harmful bacteria, it is advisable to seek professional assistance. A qualified plumber or water treatment specialist can assess the situation and provide appropriate solutions.


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