HomeTagsPosts tagged with "bacteria"


The phrase; "Boys have cooties" was always circulated when I was a child, mainly from other kids who watched way too much American television. In my four months of living in a Berkeley fraternity house among college-aged American boys (they 100 percent couldn't be called men, they needed full-time agony aunts), I learned numerous life lessons whether I wanted to or not. Mainly that personal hygiene and a basic understanding of women are deeply lacking, and there's nothing I can do to change either of those things. Bear in mind that this frat house is just one of dozens in Berkeley alone, and that sarcasm will be heavily used in this article. I won't be naming any names (though I'd love to) and many frat boys I met were positively lovely. It was just the few that needed basic lectures about toxic masculinity and domestic chores that will be targeted by my literary wrath.


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1. If they make eye contact with you, they're most likely drunk or high and have obtained a mysterious confidence.

Waking up in the morning and emerging through the jungle of empty beer bottles and fast food takeaway boxes, if you make it to the disgusting kitchen and run into a boy, he'll scutter away into the darkness or refuse to look you in the eye. Whether we'd be standing only centimetres apart while frying off eggs or toasting bread, chances are high that you won't be addressed. They're probably terrified of you, or don't know how to communicate with a woman without downing a keg of beer first.

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Many of these boys are spectacularly wealthy (well, their families are.) You need to have some connection to cash to get into college in the USA, usually but not always of course. Many of these boys also went to prep schools, with other boys surrounding them. Their only opportunity to talk to women often is on nights out in clubs or bars, and the heteronormativity is honestly unavoidable. I made some great friends while living in Berkeley, but never felt entirely safe unless there was a female friend or just a regular ol' female around. Boys have no idea the lengths that women have to go to in order to feel safe, just walking down the street. Especially in a strange city without your family.


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2. The issue of consent is a major epidemic across US college campuses

Men in America often objectify women, and one of the first things I noticed about our frat house when we moved in was the consistent posters regarding consent. The alarming feeling that only an incident would spur on the sudden mass influx of posters plagued me for a lot of my trip, and Irish women who also lived in the house were all very safe. The rumours about US college campuses lacking safety didn't help, as well as the security guards who insisted on escorting us around the campus at night. According to AAU Campus Climate Surveys (2015), 23.1 percent of female undergraduates, 5.4 percent of male undergraduates, and 24.1 percent of TGQN (trans, gender-non conforming, queer) undergraduates reported being sexually assaulted since starting college. Among graduate students and professionals, the estimates were 8.8 percent female, 2.2 percent male, and 15.5 percent TGQN. Sexual violence is far more prevalent in colleges, compared to other crimes. RAINN claim that only 20 percent of female student victims, aged between 18-and 24, report sexual violence to law enforcement. Frat houses are yet more spaces where women aren't always protected.

3. Their mums have cleaned up after them and spoiled them silly since they emerged from the womb

The boys of our frat house made a 'chore list' for the Irish students alone, and overcharged us absurdly for rent. They essentially exploited us; we paid them handsomely for gross accommodation while they lived there for free, and they spent the money on drugs and then drove to In 'N' Out. They were incapable of cleaning up after themselves, so old food and cooking tools were stacked up, while dirty dishes were consistently in a Mount Everest pile up in the sink. I learned of new smells I never thought existed, thanks to mould and bacteria. I'm convinced that I'm immune to many diseases because of living there. Boys have an astounding ability to leave a mess rotting the place for days, if not months, and play chicken with you until you can't take it anymore and give in. I have the distinct memory of cleaning out green mould from our fridge for three hours and inhaling Stranger Things 'Upside Down' like materials. A gas mask would have come in handy. They also don't know that sheets are meant to be changed.

4. Become Bear Grylls overnight if you have a rodent problem

We had numerous Snow White-esque pets in our abode, such as a Skunk (we named him Larry), ferrets under the floorboards and even bed bugs. We even had to trap a bed bug (insanely difficult task) in order to show our landlord, in order to get a $50 reduction in rent. Yes, just $50. He never actually gave us that reduction in the end…

The point is; Get a thick skin for bugs and unwanted pets. You will suddenly turn into a complete Lara Croft badass and will learn to live amongst nature.

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5. Certain toxic, alien practices surrounding fraternity houses and sororities continue to exist

During the weeks before college actually begins, 'Rush' occurs. This is basically where you semi-audition to be in a frat house or sorority, with some houses being significantly more difficult to infiltrate than others. It becomes a common occurrence to see boys with their shirts off and abs painstakingly arranged in a six-pack wandering around screaming; "ALPHA KAPPA LAMBA 'TIL I DIE, BRO!'. They may not be entirely made up of brain cells, but just ignore them. Sorority girls will walk around in matching outfits and sky-high heels, screeching chants that sound like sirens to you. Music will be blasting from 16 different speakers, signs and balloons will line the street. Every house puts the maximum amount of effort in when it comes to attracting the most attention, and future members. The 'hazing' rituals still exist too. One rule which infuriated our entire group was that frat houses could throw parties in Berkeley, but sororities couldn't. The rule had never been changed, and it was part of the college campus law now. 

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6. They will clog every toilet in existence

In Berkeley, at least, weed was absolutely everywhere. You couldn't make coffee in the morning before scraping your hungover self into work without a frat boy shoving a bong in your face.

From edibles to hemp products to the grass plant itself; marijuana is unavoidable in the area. What are the results of a house full of boys smoking weed until they KO? The digestive system going into meltdown. Who suffers from this surprising turn of events? Normally women, who actually need to use the toilet more often than most boys due to sanitary needs etc. They also need to sit on the toilet seat constantly.

There were four bathrooms in the sizeable fraternity house. You would assume that at least one toilet was always available to use, then. How wrong you are. All four toilets were consistently blocked thanks to the bowel movements of 15 boys, all permanently high. Basic human hygiene went out of the window in days from when I arrived, and I began using public bathrooms in the area to just experience what a regular toilet is meant to be like. Never take your pristine white bathroom for granted, ladies. Some day, it could be compromised by Snoop Dogg & Co. 

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7. You will never take privacy for granted again

Sharing a house with 25 people at the same time can make it extremely difficult to get any time alone. You're probably sharing a room with at least one person, and even small errands like trying to do laundry can take hours with everyone queueing up.

Many of us don't enjoy the feeling of being alone, but if you're accustomed to having your own room as I was (my identical twin and I fought viciously over bunk-beds so our parents separated us) then sharing that space can be a huge shock. Arguments over whose side of the room is messier occurred daily, and clothes went missing all the time. Random strangers would walk into our house, seeing as only the house manager had a lock on his door, so every room was fair game. The house itself was never locked, and it became difficult to know who was one of your frat boys and who was a randomer.

This made privacy a long-lost friend who you ached to see once again, for however short a time. Going to the bathroom or showering was blissful even for those few moments alone. Despite the grubbiness of the bathrooms themselves…(Hello, Cif? Cillit Bang? Lost but not forgotten.)

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8. Someone will eat your food, and you will be fuming over it

You could do a full grocery shop in Trader Joe's down the road and within minutes, hungover boys or high boys who have the munchies will have annihilated your entire snack stash. Most people tried to spend as little money on food as physically possible, either by stealing food from wherever they worked or by stealing food from the house. Now, I took the odd slice of bread or splash of milk for my (Barry's) tea, but that was all. I advise you to create your own bunker of sorts, where you hide all your treats and actually decent-tasting food from everyone else in the house.

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Never tell anyone, not even your closest friend, where it is. Or else have a password so you can know who to trust. Surviving in a frat house takes buckets of crisps and dip, microwave popcorn, Cadbury's chocolate and pot noodles. Trust me.

9. American's can't drink legally until the age of 21, and they can't handle it

One of the reasons why frat houses are so obsessed with drugs in California is that it's easier to get them, rather than getting their fake IDs rejected while trying to score alcohol. When they DO manage to get booze, boy are they bad at handling it. Mainly due to the insane levels of peer pressure from the Bro Mob. If you told one of them during a game of Beer Pong that he had to poison himself with weed killer then do a backflip in front of a sorority house naked, they'd probably do it. It was toxic as f*ck. We went on a bar crawl with our house manager for his 21st birthday (we thought he was 30-years-old, so that was a shock…) and he drank a bottle of hot sauce and tequila and vomited bright orange puke down the stairs of the bar, and all of us were then banned. There were only two bars in town, so it was a low blow. While they can handle their weed, when it comes to binge drinking there's nobody like an Irish person to put them in their place. 

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10. You'll miss Ireland more than you expected

From basic teabags and bread that isn't made entirely of sugar to Irish carveries and homemade meals, there's a lot that you'll miss about the Emerald Isle. Finally having food that isn't processed, being able to afford a meal again, being around people who understand sarcasm and whose country isn't politically dangerous and immoral will be blissful. Seeing proper forestland and greenery is often hard in America, due to the difference in climate. Flying back and seeing the patchwork field of bright green fields, you'll forget all about the dried up desert backyard of the frat house. Also having your own room again will bring tears of gratitude to your eyes, if you can grab one. 

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If your anything like us, an impromptu browse through the makeup counters will generally result in one hand covered in liquid lipsticks and the other caked in every various shades of biege and orange.

After all, most of us wouldn't dream of picking up a new product without testing it first, right?

Well, according to experts, the old 'try before you buy' method could actually be doing us more harm than good.

One microbiologist has warned how in-store makeup testers could carry viruses such as herpes and salmonella.

It's thought that lip products could contain tiny droplets of saliva which could carry infections, while mascara wands and eyeliners shared among friends could lead to the spread of conjunctivitis and even pink-eye.


According to The Daily Mail, Dr Amreen Bashir, a microbiologist from Aston University in Birmingham, said: “Most people would never consider sharing a toothbrush with a stranger, yet they happily use make-up testers.”

“There is a real risk of catching bacterial infections and herpes, as we all have different organisms living on us and one cosmetic tester can be used by 30 or 40 different people, which spreads the risk of infection.”

And if that wasn't enough to turn you off makeup testers, studies have revealed that a massive 43 per cent of eyeliners and mascara wands contain contaminants of some kind.

Makeup brushes are another huge offender, with experts warning that they could contain bacteria including Staph aureus, E.coli and streptococcus.

Please excuse us while we decontaminate our entire makeup collections.



The humble handbag is an essential part of any woman's life, and while we might complain about have to lug it around everywhere we go, we honestly don't know how to function without it.

But what if we told you your go-to black tote was actually a breeding ground for germs that could be making you sick?

Think about it. They come absolutely everywhere with us, in the car, on the bus, pub, clubs, and of course, public bathrooms – and while we haven't done the exact math, we're guessing our our bags pick up a whole lot of bacteria along the way.

In fact, a new guide compiled by the Good Housekeeping Institute states that there are eight household items that harbour more germs than the average toilet seat, and rather unexpectedly, handbags came out on top of the list.

It seems that while kitchen worktops, bathrooms and dirty floors are usually cleaned on a daily basis, even the clean freaks among us can forget about the less obvious offenders.

Toothbrushes, remote controls and towels all featured on the list, as well as laptop screens, dishcloths, keyboards and pet beds.

So, is it time to replace all of our beloved handbags?

Probably, yes. However, experts recommend that in the future,  instead of placing you handbag on the floor when out in public places, instead try to use a hook or door handle to reduce contact with any germ-ridden surfaces.



OK, OK, we get it.

If we find the perfect lipstick or mascara, we keep it until the very last swipe.

Plus, if our lipstick is still half-full, we're not going to throw it out, are we?

Well, it turns out that we probably should, because expired make-up is pretty gross.

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One Redditor called Semicolon_Expected tested a few products that were lying around at the bottom of her make-up bag, knowing that they were definitely out-of-date.

And while the mascara she tested proved to be pretty rank, it was the lipstick that shocked us.

"So I swabbed my old Revlon Colorstay on a petri dish, the colour on one side and the clear on the other side and left it out for 3 days," she wrote on a beauty thread.

And after three days it was FULL of gross, bacterial colonies.

"I was surprised it grew so much since other cultures I swabbed had more spotty growth and not such big colonies in such a short time with no incubation." 

After looking at the results of the tests, Glamour spoke to microbiologist Jason Tetro, and he said "when you're constantly dipping into beauty products, you're introducing bacteria."

This can happen to expensive and budget beauty products, so that's another thing to think about when buying that Chanel lippy.

We're definitely going to keep track of when we bought our make-up from now on.


There’s only one way to flush a toilet, right? Well not according to this microbiologist.

Philip Tierno told Business Insider that we’re actually flushing our toilets the wrong way if we leave the lid up.

According to Philip: “When you flush a toilet, the swirling water that removes your waste from the bowl also mixes with small particles of that waste, shooting aerosolised faeces into the air.”

This rather disgusting phenomenon is known as “toilet plume" (EW). This “toilet plume” can actually reach a height of 15 feet when the toilet is flushed.

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Not only that, but potentially harmful bacteria and viruses can be transmitted by toilet plume as far as the sink, floor and even your toothbrush.

So, it’s a good idea to keep a cover on your toothbrush or keep it in a cabinet rather than on the sink.

It’s still unclear whether diseases can be transmitted in this manner, more research into “toilet plume” is required before scientists can determine this.

So, don’t panic if you accidentally forget to put the seat down before you flush.

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“If you have unbroken skin, you’re likely to be okay," he said.

He did, however, point out that bacteria like salmonella which causes food poisoning and viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A, are transmitted by faecal particles entering the mouth (again, EW).

If someone in your family has been unwell, it’s probably prudent to put the seat down when you flush.

If you have a newer toilet, you don’t need to worry as much as this is less likely to happen with newer low-flow toilets. Older toilets are more likely to spread the dreaded “toilet plume.”



We try to keep our skin looking super fresh all the time – but of course there's going to be days when it's not looking up to scratch.

However, if you want to make sure you're doing the best for your skin, we think it's time to throw out the shower puff.

According to new research, a shower puff is pretty dirty, and we want to throw out ours right now.

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The warm, moist environment that the puff lives in means that bacteria, yeast and mould thrive

And if you think you'll get away with buying one more frequently, you're wrong. Bacteria can grow almost overnight.

The various layers of netting means that it's impossible to clean them, so you're basically just rubbing germs into your skin every time you wash.

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Grossed out enough?

Well, there's more. Don't even think about putting a shower puff near you after shaving because it could cause a serious infection and ain't nobody got time for that.

Marie Claire estimate that 98 per cent of dermatologists recommend never using them, and honestly, we think we're turned off for life.


Look, we'd try any excuse to get out of going to the gym. And we've used nearly every trick in the book – tiredness, work, our dog's birthday.

But, this may actually be a legitimate reason to skip the workout.

A new study from Fitrated.com has found that most gym equipment has more germs on it than a toilet seat.

Grossed out? We are too.

The study saw a science lab, EmLab P&K, swab about 30 pieces of gym equipment in three top UK gym chains, and the results were pretty grim.

They found that a treadmill has 74 times more bacteria on it than a public drinking water fountain, while an exercise bike has 39 times more bacteria than a cafeteria tray.

But the mankiest of all? Free weights have 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.

Now, that's a lot of germs. But, are we really surprised?

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While you may see a lot of people rub down a treadmill when they're finished; how many people do you see cleaning the weights?

So, if you have to go to the gym and this study hasn't given you the creeps, then the best thing for you to do is bring some anti-bacterial wipes to give whatever piece of equipment you're using a quick clean.

Don't touch your face while at the gym either, and take off your exercise clothes the minute you get home. You don't want those germs spreading.


Whether it's our  mother, our aunt, or our clean-freak BFF, we all know someone who makes us take our shoes off at the door.

And we all might think that this is to keep their houses spick and span, but it turns out there's a way more hygienic reason for it.

According to a new study carried out at the University of Hoxton, our shoe soles are probably the dirtiest things we own, and they have a whole load of pathogenic germs (which are the really bad kind) on them.

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But, it's not just muck and dirt the researchers found. Living on your shoe sole is clostridium difficile, which can cause some pretty nasty bacterial infections. 

Clostridium difficile was found on 26.4 per cent of shoe soles.

And if you think wiping your shoes on the mat before you walk in the door will help – it won't.

White Converse All Star Chuck Taylor High Tops Sneakers Surrounded by Black Red and White Shoes

Dr Kevin Garey, who led the study said: "You have to think of the person who wiped their feet before. You might be picking [up] stuff they left behind.”

So, there you go. Listen to your mammy and take off your shoes.

Oh, and while we have you; don't forget to have your say in the inaugural SHEmazing Awards this May! It's time to vote, and you can do it right here!


We all know the devastation that comes with dropping a much coveted piece food on the floor, so naturally on occasion we have employed the Five Second Rule.

But unfortunately for those of us who’ve justified the consumption of fallen food with the argument that it “barely touched the floor”, a two-year study has found that no matter how little time food spends on your kitchen tiles it will undoubtedly pick up bacteria.

According to The New York Times, the recently published results of the New Jersey based study which tested four different types of foods – cut watermelon, bread, buttered bread and gummy candy – on four different types of surfaces – stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet – for periods of one, five, 30 and 300 seconds show that no fallen food escaped contamination.

While the research did show that the longer the food spent on the ground the more bacteria it picked up, the main microbiologist involved said that “bacteria can contaminate instantaneously”.

The surfaces which transferred the most germs were tiles and stainless steel, while the food which absorbed the most bacteria was watermelon because of its moist texture.

So all those seemingly grand bits of toast, pasta, doughnuts and cake that bounced from the floor right into our bellies were well and truly – shudder – contaminated.

GIFs: giphy.com


As children, we all used the 5 second rule when we dropped our food (especially if it was a piece of chocolate cake), ensuring ourselves that "it's grand". 

While we might think that food dropping on the ground for a fleeting moment will cause no harm, researchers from the University of Illinois found that bacteria can be passed (damn it) on to food within 5 seconds – depending on the surface.

According the the research, it takes just 0.1 percent of bacteria to harm you and make you sick. 

The best place to drop your food is on a carpet (surprisingly), with only one percent of bacteria transferred.

You're out of luck though if you drop anything on a tile or wood floor, with 48 to 70 percent of bacteria contaminating the food. 

But the best way to stop your food being contaminated? Don't leave it on the ground for more than three second… or you know, just don't drop it at all. 



How many of us take the time each week to wash all of our make-up brushes properly as well as tossing our make-up bags (yes, all of them) into the wash for a good scrub?

The only time we ever really seem to care about the state of our make-up bag is when we buy a shiny new product and it just doesn’t do it justice to throw it in the pit so we make everything shiny.

Here is what you need to be doing in order to keep your make-up bag free of harmful bacteria and germs:

Wash your brushes…often
We know it’s an obvious one but it’s probably the most important. Your make-up brushes are being used ON your skin EVERY day and they need to be clean. Take ten minutes once a week and wash your brushes thoroughly in either hot soapy water or special make-up brush cleanser.

Throw your make-up bag in the laundry
Another chore to do once a week. There’s no point in washing your brushes and then throwing them into a germ-filled make-up bag now is there?!

No fingers please
If you have any foundation or pot product make sure to use a cotton bud to scoop out what you need. Your fingers are germ-magnets and every time you pop them in there you’re leaving some behind to transfer onto your face next time. Not cool. If there is a tube version of the pot product available, even better.

That pencil sharpener though…
Your pencil sharpener needs to be kept spick and span. Your lip pencils and eyeliners need to be sharpened regularly as they are used on your skin, and more importantly – your eyes! This means the sharpener itself needs to be perfectly clean too.

Sharing isn’t caring
We know it’s in our nature to wear each other’s clothes and do each other’s hair but the line needs to be drawn at sharing make-up. Everyone’s skin is different and by allowing someone to use your brushes/lipstick/mascara you run the risk of transferring skin issues to them or getting them yourself.

Regular clean-out
Make-up has an expiry date. Here is how long common beauty products last and how often you need to replace them, even if they haven't run out:

Mascara: 2-3 months
Eyeshadow: 6 months
Foundation: 6-12 months
Stick concealer: 2 years
Liquid concealer: 1 year
Eyeliner: 3 months


No one really likes trying on intimate items in a shop – God knows who’s been trying it on before you – but we take some comfort in the little protective strip that is meant to protect us from germs.

Not anymore.

Philip Tierno, a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University’s School of Medicine has conducted research on the matter, and he found out that swimsuits, underwear and other intimate items were covered in skin, fecal and respiratory tract bacteria, and worst of all? Vaginal organisms like yeast.

He also found that the classiness of the shop doesn’t matter, it’s the skimpiness of the knickers that really makes the difference. Apparently, the skimpier the underwear, the more likely women are to take off their own knickers to try it on.

However, Tierno says: “The good thing is that most people have a very robust immune system, so they can usually fight off the small number of organisms they may get on their body. The fact that you come into contact with one doesn’t mean you’re going to get sick.”

If you want to make sure you DEFINITELY don’t get sick from going on the hunt for the perfect bikini, Tierno says there are some things you can do:

  • Keep your knickers on! And wash it when you get home.
  • Wash your swim suit or underwear after you’ve bought it – even if the protective strip is still on it.
  • Wash your hands after trying on the intimates.