It goes without saying that good hygiene is a basic tenant of a good life. Keeping ourselves clean involves a lot more than just frequent showering. Though everyone's bodies are different, the core habits remain the same. Clean hair, clean skin, clean teeth, so on and so forth.
Despite the commonality of this knowledge, there are still some details that slip past many of us. In an attempt to encourage a cleaner, healthier public, a doctor took to TikTok to share five places on your body you might not be washing enough.
Passing Of The Torch
One of the responsibilities that gets passed onto us from our parents once we become competent enough children is our ability to clean ourselves. We have to take charge of our own personal hygiene from showering by ourselves to making a habit out of brushing our teeth, and everything in between.
This means we have to rely on our parents to teach us how to wash ourselves thoroughly and properly. What happens if they neglect to, though? Or if we just forget a few less-common showering habits as life goes on?
Realistically, nothing really will happen, except that you'll have a few spots on your body that might need some careful scrubbing once you're reminded of them.
A TikTok that recently went viral addressed this very issue, calling out places that many people tend to forget about washing when they're in the shower or taking a bath.
The video—which has 2.2 million views at the time of writing—was uploaded by Dr. Jen Caudle, who is both a physician and a med school professor. Let's see what places she felt the need to draw attention to.
Dr. Caudle's first order of business is addressing our belly buttons.
"That's right, a lot of people don't wash their belly button at all," she says. "Guys, it gets gross."
And she's right. The belly button, as a dark and deep crevice in the body, is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and grime. In fact, a 2012 study found that there are 67 types of bacteria in the average belly button. This goes extra for those with hairy stomachs, as that hair lends dirt to being trapped in there much easier than those without.
"Please wash your belly button," Dr. Caudle pleads.
Behind Your Ears
Up next on the agenda is washing behind your ears.
"The top of the ear, behind, this little area here in the back," she explains as she visually demonstrates on her own ear what she's talking about, "and also the lobe. I want you to specifically wash that area."
She even includes a tip for knowing if your ears are clean. "If you [...] rub your ear, you rub somewhere, and you smell it and it's gross, you haven't washed it recently." Another dark place often covered by the hair; you'd be surprised how quickly it can get nasty back there.
"The next thing is making sure that you wash, or rather scrub, underneath your fingernails."
Because it's such a small place that touches absolutely everything we interact with, our fingernails accumulate a lot of grime fast. As Dr. Caudle describes it, "This is where a lot of dirt and grossness gets trapped [...] we don't often think about it."
Thankfully, this area is the easiest to tell visually when it needs a good cleaning. It's best not to let it get to that point if you can though, so if you spot some dirtiness under your nails, go ahead and give them a good scrub.
It seems that every few years or so, the debate of "do you explicitly wash your legs in the shower or just let the soap run down them when you wash the rest of your body?" resurfaces online and shows people for who they truly are.
Just letting the soap rinse over them is not a technique Dr. Caudle approves of. You need exfoliation! You need to actually scrub away the stuck on dirt that rests on your skin, even if it doesn't look like it. Dripping soap alone is not enough to properly clean any part of your body.
Dr. Caudle encourages the careful scrubbing of your toes, getting in between each of them.
"You want to make sure you're preventing infections of many different sorts," she explains. "So make sure you're deliberately washing your toes."
This makes sense given that our feet are either trapped within socks and shoes all day as we walk through the world, or are sometimes left bare within our own homes. Covered or not, either way our feet gather plenty of dirt throughout the day that needs to be scrubbed away.
The comments were largely one of two things. Either people were shocked that this had to be said at all, touting that they always wash everything listed in this video every time they shower, or they were suggesting other places that desperately need some more TLC from the general public.
Other oft-neglected areas that should get some extra attention when washing up include the backs of your knees, the back of your neck, and your back even.
Too Much Of A Good Thing
However, as one astute commenter pointed out, overwashing is also an issue. Places like your ears, the skin on your face, and the skin around your elbows can be thinner and more sensitive. Overwashing can dry these areas out and even increase their sensitivity by stripping away natural skin barriers if you're going hard on the scrubbing every single day.
Staying clean is important, but that doesn't mean you should be sacrificing your skin's health. Learning to listen to your body and understand your skin-type is imperative to maintaining health.
A Gentle Cleaning
If you didn't know the importance of washing the parts listed here, that's okay. As mentioned earlier, not everyone gets taught the same things. You're also not a bad person if you forget to wash those places, or if you're struggling with something such as mental illness that makes showering at all incredibly difficult.
Our morality is not tied to our hygiene. It's important to keep your body clean, yes, but berating yourself every time you forget or if you skip a shower day due to exhaustion will do nothing but damage your mindset around cleanliness in the future.
Be kind to yourself, and stay clean when you can!