You’ve heard your fair share of college-health adages: “Avoid the freshmen 15,” “Don’t accept drinks from strangers,” “Wear protection!” Nonetheless, as new viruses evolve and old ones reemerge, adopting good hygiene is essential to preventing sickness in college. Of course, in 2020 the novel coronavirus is a new disease that is spreading rapidly around the world. In 2019, universities in New York, New Jersey, and California saw outbreaks of meningitis, prompting states to reevaluate mandatory vaccinations for incoming students. In 2018, Dartmouth and Johns Hopkins both battled multiple cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease on campus.
In England, mumps cases have reached their highest in a decade. There are plenty of basic precautions you can take — make sure you wash your hands and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. And use hand sanitizer often, especially if you’ve interacted with others who are sick. In particular, dormitories, with their high student populations and shared resources, provide a perfect home for all sorts of nasty germs. Masks are generally unnecessary, unless you are sick they help prevent the spread of germ droplets when you cough or sneeze. So, in between classes, clubs, football games, and parties, dedicate some time for dorm room cleanliness. Below are some of the top — and often neglected — tips.
A recent study revealed that male-populated rooms have six times the number of bacteria as their female counterparts. Moreover, the germiest hotspots in the average male dorm room are the bedsheets. Mom doesn’t live on campus, gentlemen. Washing sheets, pillowcases, and other machine-washable bed linens will make a major hygienic impact on your everyday life. Most institutions offer affordable, large-scale washers and dryers on campus, typically within each dormitory. If not, local laundromats aren’t too far. Best practice suggests washing linens once a week.
Lose Last Season’s Lipstick
Old makeup, not to mention the brushes and accessories, hosts all kinds of bacteria. Take care to wash makeup applicators and brushes — those fibers and sponges are porous, which keeps bacteria lodged in them. Replace makeup every few months. And while your roommate’s glitter lip gloss may intrigue you, avoid sharing makeup. Generally, bathroom items, whether makeup, toothbrushes, loofahs, or hair accessories, should be replaced more frequently than you might think!
Think bathroom doorknobs, desks, iPhones, keyboards, you name it. Whether you have roommates or frequent guests, sanitizing shared surfaces is essential to maintaining good dorm health. Clean thoroughly and often. Keep an eye out for mold in the bathroom or other moist spaces.
Flip Your Mattress
You may wish to avoid the thought, but you’re likely not the first student to sleep on that dorm mattress. While popular memory-foam mattresses today are meant for one orientation, traditional spring mattresses require a 180-degree flip a few times a year. In warmer climates especially, this is important to prevent mold and increase airflow.
Take Out the Trash
It’s one of the worst chores, but also one of the most imperative. Garbage is a magnet for bacteria-carrying insects, like roaches and flies. Most institutions have trash and recycling centers in or nearby dorms. Dorm rooms are small enough as it is. Avoid the smell and the bugs and take out your trash at least once a week.
By following these simple personal hygiene and etiquette tips, you could save yourself alot of hassle by staying healthy and preventing diseases from spreading on campus.