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Hygiene: Practice and Principle



Practice and Principle



This is a tongue-in-cheek textbook for those who wish to better understand the biological and social consequences of hygiene.


It’s dedicated to the smelly kids who lived in Baker 2, who made me realize that this book was needed.


Seriously, they smelled like they rubbed 10-year old cheez whiz in their hair, and bathed in the sweat of our college hockey team. It was bad.




Written and Illustrated by Shay Skobeleva

Cover photo by Marieke Kuijpers/Freeimages.com

Published by Shay Skobeleva at Shakespir

Copyright © 2017 Shay Skobeleva

All Rights Reserved




Shakespir Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, Shay Skobeleva. It may not be re-sold or altered under any circumstances, or re-distributed without the author’s written permission. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to purchase their own copy from his or her favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.




Table of Contents




Chapter 1: Smells


Chapter 2: The Elusive Shower


Chapter 3: Laundry


Chapter 4: Oral Hygiene


Chapter 5: Other Personal Grooming


Chapter 6: Environmental Cleanliness


Closing Notes








Take a look around you. Notice the other people. (If there aren’t any, get off the internet and go outside.) What do you see when you look at them? Are their clothes wrinkled or stained? Is their hair soft and combed, or does it appear to have French-fry grease caked into it? Do they smell pleasant, or do they give off the aroma of a middle school locker room?


Believe it or not, these aspects of a person are often the first things that others notice. While condition of your laundry may not seem to have anything to do with how well your hair is fixed, all of these things have something in common: they all boil down to hygiene.


Hygiene: conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness.


Yep, that’s right. Believe it or not, how clean you are can directly affect how healthy you are. Not just because sleeping on piles of dirty laundry can attract cockroaches to your bed, but also because improperly cleaned skin can lead to acne, rashes, and infections. Not changing your socks enough can cause fungus to grow on your feet! Bad oral hygiene leads to cavities, gingivitis, and a higher risk or tonsillitis!


But more importantly, if you don’t have proper hygiene, nobody will like you.




Chapter 1: Smells


For centuries, humans didn’t bathe very often. After all, it was a lot of work to carry water into a tub, heat it up to a pleasant temperature, and then spend the time to scrub all the dirt and sweat off, only to get dirty again right afterwards! It’s kind of like making your bed, why make it when you’re about to mess it up again that evening, anyways?


The thing is, a messy bed might not look so nice, but it’s only visually offensive. Unwashed bodies tend to produce something much worse, called an odor.


Odor: A distinctive smell, particularly an unpleasant one.


Why is that? After all, didn’t people bathe only once a month, or even once a year in the past? And besides, many kids don’t bathe every day, and they don’t smell.

Well, you see, something happens as kids grow up. Once you hit puberty, the chemical composition of your sweat starts to change. Your body has two types of sweat glands: Apocrine and Eccrine. Apocrine sweat glands are the smelly ones, and they are found near your armpits and groin. Eccrine sweat glands cover the rest of your body, and while they still produce fluid, it doesn’t smell strongly.


As you hit puberty, rather than being an odorless fluid that merely keeps you cool, the bacteria on your skin start to use your apocrine sweat as a media to multiply. And the byproducts they produce don’t always smell so nice. In fact, the pungent odor of these byproducts permeate the air around you, likely using the formula:


Strength of body odor field=


Note: Unlike the magnetic or gravitational fields that follow the same formula, the body odor field is chemical. This means that it is not static, and can be disrupted by airflow. A light breeze can carry concentrated pockets of odor particulates even as far as 50m downwind of the source!


Now, you might not have actually noticed this. The reason that humans used to go so long without showering (or even noticing how filthy they were) is because of something called Olfactory Fatigue, or the temporary, but normal, inability to distinguish a particular odor after prolonged exposure to it. This means that while people still smelled just as much, they didn’t actually notice it because everybody smelled, and everybody was so used to smelling it all the time that they didn’t notice it anymore. There’s a chance that if you haven’t showered in a long time, you might not even notice how much you smell!


I’ve got bad news though; just because you might not notice how much you smell, doesn’t mean that others don’t notice. The only people who won’t notice are either suffering from anosmia [(*]the inability to smell at all[)*], or also haven’t showered in a while and have their own case of olfactory fatigue.


This phenomenon (where multiple dirty people develop the same olfactory fatigue for body odor) is responsible for the often-observed tendency of smelly people to flock together. They often roam in packs throughout middle schools, high schools, and college campuses, leaving an aura of gym socks and sour cheese wafting behind them.



So, what can be done about this?


All adults produce this body odor. It’s more intense after exercise, or on hot, humid days. So how do people keep from smelling? In short, it boils down to a combination of regularly cleaning yourself, and making certain lifestyle changes to ensure that the smell never reaches critical concentration, or the concentration that will cause others to vomit or pass out. We can start by showering!




Chapter 2: The Elusive Shower


One of the most basic ways to keep people from smelling is to remove the buildup of sweat and dirt. Ideally, one would do this by showering or bathing. Not only showering with water, but also using a foaming body wash or soap. There are very useful products called loofahs, which aid in both making your soap foam up, and in scrubbing your skin. Loofahs come in natural varieties and synthetic ones; depicted below is a synthetic loofah. Simply apply shower gel or soap to the mesh, get the loofah wet, and then scrub yourself with it.


Fig 2: A synthetic loofah.


Many adults even shower more than once a day! Those who sweat a lot at night often enjoy a morning shower to freshen up in addition to one at the end of the day. After any sort of heavy exercise, such as a gym session, an additional shower is recommended to clean off the newly formed layer of sweat.


Using soap and water once a day is the bare necessity to keep yourself smelling nice. Any less, and I guarantee that people will notice a smell. However, there are many more aspects of showering that can further improve your appearance, and a lot of options that can go into choosing the right shower products. Let’s start with body wash.





What is soap? Soap is an amphiphilic molecule, containing both polar and nonpolar regions. What does this mean? Well, to make a long story short, every molecule that exists is either polar, nonpolar, or both (like soap.) Oil, grease, and other fat-based things are nonpolar. Things that can be dissolved in water, such as sugar, are ionic or polar.


Normally, you’d need a nonpolar solvent to dissolve something nonpolar. For example, you would need to use oil to dissolve bike chain grease.


Likewise, you’d need a polar solvent, like water, to dissolve something ionic or polar, like salt residue or mud.


However, because soap is capable of dissolving both classes of molecules, we don’t need to get creative to keep clean. We can just use soap to dissolve almost everything that could get us dirty in the first place!


Fig 3. An amphiphilic soap molecule

Body wash and soaps: not all are equal.


Now, imagine trying to wash your face with dish soap. It doesn’t sound very pleasant, does it? It would likely dry out your skin, and maybe even make it peel after frequent use. There’s a reason that we don’t do this (and if you do, please reconsider your choices.) Our skin has a natural balance of oils, secreted by our sebaceous glands. While they do smell bad if left to build up, they also keep our skin soft, supple, and protected from drying out. And, counter intuitively, if you remove too much oil without replacing it, your body would then try to start producing more oil to compensate for how much was removed.


However, everybody’s skin is unique in how much oil it produces. Some people barely produce any, and some people produce much more oil than their body needs. The trick is to find a shower product that will remove the day’s buildup and clean you without turning you into a piece of jerky.


While all body washes and soaps at the store basically look the same, they actually vary quite a bit chemically from one brand to another. Generally, they are all composed of a blend of detergent (soap), oils, scents, and other emollients. Sodium Laureth Sulfate is the most important ingredient: it’s the amphiphilic detergent that does the foaming and the cleaning. How much of this is in any soap will affect how much your skin will dry out from using it.


Many shower gels will try to advertise soothing oils, aloe vera products, or other fancy-sounding ingredients that restore your skin. These added oils are meant to replace the ones you just stripped off, so your body doesn’t rush to fill the gap with more oil. It’s good to have some of these products in your shower gel, but don’t put too much weight into buying the most expensive gel on the market because it’s “better.” Everybody’s skin has unique needs, and it often takes experimenting to find the soap that makes you feel clean without drying you out.


If you chronically feel dried out after a shower regardless of the soap you use, get a gentle lotion to use after the shower. It will replace the moisture and reduce risk of cracking or peeling skin. Like with different showering products, it’s a good idea to test a few lotions until you find one you like.


Face wash: I need another type of soap?


Your facial skin is much more sensitive than the skin on your body. Therefore, it’s not at all uncommon for regular body wash to be too harsh for your face. If that’s the case, you might want to look into using some face-specific cleansers.


Personally, I use a very mild soap like Cetaphil Facial Cleanser. It’s gentle enough to strip excess oil without drying you out completely. Mild facial soaps are also great for usage on the more sensitive parts of the body, such as areas with eczema or for use around the groin. Just make sure you don’t use any acne products on sensitive areas.


Personally, I’ve found that an exfoliating cleanser such as St. Ives Apricot Scrub (or a generic version), when used in combination with a facial soap, will clean out your pores well and reduce acne risk.


But everybody’s skin is different, and some might find the large slurry of apricot pits to be too rough on gentle skin, so they should choose a milder (smaller grain) exfoliant, or not use any at all. Some might find Cetaphil to be too weak of a soap to clean the oil off of their face, so they might want to use some acne-specific facial washes, toners, or other products.


Fig 4: From left to right: a small, medium, and large-grain exfoliating scrub by the St. Ives brand.



Shampoo and Conditioner: your hair matters too!


Much like the rest of your skin, your hair follicles also produce oils to protect your hair. And like the rest of your skin, these oils also smell if left unwashed for too long. How much you need to wash your hair will vary from person to person. Some wash it once a week, and others wash it every day. Both approaches are equally valid, depending on how much oil you produce. The trick is to be regular with whichever intervals you choose.


Choosing a shampoo: It really doesn’t matter. Pick one that smells pretty and makes your hair feel clean, without it getting too dried out.





Conditioner is designed to replace the oils your shampoo just stripped. It’s generally used right after rinsing out the shampoo, left on for a few minutes, and then rinsed out right afterwards. Your hair will be much easier to comb after (or during!) a conditioning, and your hair will feel much softer afterwards than it would have otherwise.


As with the shampoo, pick one you like. It doesn’t matter as much as body wash differences do.



After the Shower: it’s not over yet!





Another important part of shower hygiene is to have a clean towel.

While it would seem that towels don’t need to be washed often (as they only come in contract with clean skin), the opposite is true. Your skin is clean, yes. However, the primary function of the towel is to wick moisture away from your body. The newly damp towel is now an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and mold! It’s important that you spread out your towel to dry completely after each use to prevent this. And even so, towels must be washed often (every week is recommended) to prevent it from starting to smell like a horse blanket that was left in the rain.


Wear antiperspirant deodorant. Cologne and perfume don’t count.


Deodorant is one of the great inventions of the modern world. It often comes in the form of a gel, a spray, or a bar, and is usually composed of an aluminum compound to act as an antiperspirant, mixed with an emollient and some light but pleasant scents.


One classic mistake that young adults make is to try and cover body odor with cologne or perfume. While many perfume products do have a strongly pleasant scent, they actually are the worst thing you can do to cover body odor. Instead of eliminating odor, the solvents in perfume combine with it. This creates a new mixture of sweat and perfume, which is then dispersed from the body using the same body odor field formula mentioned earlier (). So rather than just smelling like sweat, one would smell like a sickening mixture of sweat and cologne.

If you do wear cologne or perfume, it is absolutely necessary to apply it to a clean body that is also wearing deodorant.


And while you’re applying that cologne/perfume, please do it lightly. It’s meant to be a light waft of nice scent that is only noticeable to people close enough to hug you. If people can smell it from even a yard away, it smells like you’re trying to hide something.


Why is deodorant so important? The aluminum compounds (specifically aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly) work as an antiperspirant by both absorbing moisture in its anhydrous form, and by blocking pores and apocrine sweat glands. So it’s not just masking odor, it’s actually preventing odor!


There is a medical condition called hyperhidrosis, where people produce very large quantities of sweat. As the normal rules of showering daily and using regular deodorant might not do much to prevent smell in this case, you can look into using clinical or prescription-strength antiperspirant deodorants. There are even medical laser treatments that can help to reduce sweat, so talk to your doctor if you want to look into that option.


Some people have concerns about the health effects of the aluminum compounds in antiperspirant, and find themselves looking for natural deodorants. Unfortunately, many of those don’t work nearly as well. One reddit user found himself noticing:


Now, there are a few natural compounds (like baking soda and coffee grounds) that can work to effectively reduce odor without using aluminum. However, they also have a nasty habit of bleaching and staining clothes, and they do nothing to actually prevent sweat production. So tread carefully when deciding to use a natural deodorant.


Deodorant should be applied under the arms before heading out for the day, and preferably after a shower. It’s not actually necessary to wear deodorant at night, and it’s good to give your skin a rest during the evening. However, make sure to apply it the next morning, and take a quick shower to freshen up if necessary!


Fig. 5: A large selection of antiperspirant deodorants at a local market.



Other Sources of Body Odor


Sometimes, you may find that while you shower regularly and wear deodorant, you might still smell bad. One potential source of this is from improperly washed laundry, as we’ll discuss in the next chapter.


Another source could be your diet. People who eat foods with sulfur compounds, such as broccoli, cauliflower, onions and garlic, as well as spicy foods such as curry, may find that the strongly scented compounds from their food are now working their way out through their sweat. It might be hard to change your diet, but it really can affect how you smell.


Another source is from strong foot odor. Feet can smell for a number of reasons, including fungal infections. Make sure to wash your feet carefully in the shower, and dry them completely (including between the toes) before putting on socks. Always wear socks with closed shoes to absorb the sweat. Sometimes, the shoes and socks themselves will start to smell awful, and will need to be thoroughly washed or thrown away.


You can also use foot-deodorizing sprays or powders in your shoes to help them smell better.


But more on that in the next chapter.




Chapter 3: Laundry


Remember how I said that people tend to sweat at night? Even if you showered right before bed, that sweat is going to soak into your sheets. And much like your damp towel will build up cultures of smelly bacteria over time and repeated use, so will your sheets. Even sheets that appear to be clean will often have a subtle scent of staleness if they aren’t washed frequently.


The same goes for pillowcases, and possibly even more so. Why? Because they’re in contact with your face! Your facial skin is very sensitive, and exposure to old skin oil every night for 6-12 hours is very irritating. According to Dr. David Bank, founder of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic, and Laser Surgery, infrequently washed pillowcases can often be a source of acne! As the old dirt and oil on your pillowcase transfers to your skin, it clogs your pores and causes breakouts. It’s recommended that people who suffer from acne should wash their pillowcases every few days (or every day if it’s really severe)!


Believe it or not, frequently washing your bedding will make your entire room smell better. Plenty of my college dorm-mates (even the ones who showered regularly) neglected to wash their sheets. As a result, their entire rooms smelled quite stale and suffocating, and it was difficult to spend time in their rooms without wanting to leave. According to a study done by ErgoFlex UK, a mattress company, the average male only changes his sheets around 4 times/year, compared to women changing their sheets around twice/month. If you want people to feel comfortable spending time in your room or on your bed, you had best make sure your sheets don’t smell.


It’s not just your sheets and pillowcases that need to be washed often, but your clothes especially are often a source of odor. To make things easier, here are some rules for how often to wash each type of clothing:





Wash shirts after every wear. If you just wear it for an hour or so, it’s probably okay to let it slide and wear it again later. However, if you wore it all day, you better believe it needs to be washed.




Pants are more flexible in their laundering requirements than shirts. As there are fewer apocrine sweat glands on the lower body than the upper (and the ones near the groin are conveniently shielded by your underwear), pants take a little longer to smell than shirts. A good rule is that for a person who produces an average amount of sweat, a pair of jeans can be worn around 3x before needing to be washed. If you don’t wear underwear, you should wash them after every use.




As I mentioned in “pants,” apocrine sweat glands are not very concentrated in the lower body, save in the groin area. Not only do your apocrine sweat glands produce smell, but various types of genital discharge also add to the mix. Your underwear, in addition to protecting your groin and genital region from outside irritation, also serve to protect your clothes from the funk that those regions produce. So while your jeans don’t need to be washed after every use, you better believe that your underwear does. Many people even change into clean underwear twice or more every day to keep feeling fresh. Underwear should also be washed in HOT water to help kill bacteria, especially if you have a history of UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections).


Socks and Shoes


While your feet don’t have smelly apocrine sweat glands, they do produce eccrine sweat. Eccrine sweat doesn’t normally smell. However, much like your towel or sheets constantly absorbing fluid while becoming a petri dish, your socks do the same thing. As they wick away the moisture from your feet, they collect it and allow smelly bacteria to breed there. The fact that socks are usually kept inside nice, warm, moist shoes only adds to the problem. Socks should be washed after every use, and much like underwear, may be changed more than once a day for heavy sweaters.


Sometimes, shoes will start to collect the odor that your socks didn’t fully absorb. This is more frequent in shoes that aren’t allowed to dry out completely between uses, or shoes that are used for athletic endeavors. Also, if you use your shoes to wade through water frequently, they will smell like a swamp.


Tennis shoes can be placed in the washer and dryer, if they’re placed with something fluffy like towels to protect the washer and dryer from banging around too much. Wash and dry them as frequently as they begin to smell terrible, and throw them out and buy new ones if it becomes too much of a hassle.


Jackets and Outerwear


Jackets, like pants, don’t need to be washed as often as shirts and undies. The shirt does a decent amount of absorbing sweat before your jacket does, but it’s not immune to smelling funky after a while. I’d say, depending on how much you wear your jacket, washing it every week or two should be fine. And definitely wash it if you get any stains or spills on it, even if it still smells fine.




Your PJ’s probably don’t need to be washed every night, but much like your sheets, should be washed frequently to prevent breakouts. PJ’s also are the primary absorbers of your night sweat, so probably need to be washed more often than sheets. For a set of PJs that are worn nightly, washing them every few days to a week should be a good rule.



How to do Laundry


I was pretty shocked at the amount of kids in college who never had done laundry before. From bleaching their pants to accidentally lighting the dryers on fire, I’ve seen pretty much everything that can go wrong in the laundry room.


Here’s some guidelines to keep you from being forced to wear bleached, shrunken clothes while your dorm burns to the ground.



Before washing


If you don’t have one already, you need a place to keep your dirty laundry. And I’m not talking about your bedroom floor, or the space under your bed.


Fig 6. Laundry Hamper and Mesh Bag.


Hampers, laundry bags, and baskets are acceptable places to keep your dirty clothes until they can be washed. It’s nice if your hamper of choice has handles, so it’s easier to carry to the laundry room.


It’s helpful to sort your clothes into “loads” before washing.

Ideally, to make your clothes last longer, you’d sort by color and texture. Dark colors should go together, reds, pinks, and oranges should be together. Whites are all by themselves.


Why? Because sometimes the warm water from the washer can cause dyes to leach out of clothes, and stain the clothes around them. More than one person has accidentally put something red in with their white clothes, only to suddenly find their formerly white underwear are now a pretty pink.


Even if the dye doesn’t leach out, sometimes lint transfer can color your clothes almost as effectively as dyes would. So separate your colors and save yourself the risk of ruining our clothes.


Regarding textures, why separate? You don’t want the zippers on your jackets trashing your silk underwear. Also, if one article of clothing sheds a lot and another doesn’t, you should wash them separately.


For example: I once washed a super fluffy brown blanket with my brown towels, because they were the same color. The fluff from the blanket transferred to the towels, which would then transfer to my skin after every shower. No amount of lint rolling or re-washing the towels would remedy this. Post-shower-me looked like a wooly mammoth for the rest of the year, until the lint was finally washed out of my towel (I was too prideful to get new towels.) Textures matter, folks.



Load Size


Okay, so let’s say you don’t care about colors and textures, and you don’t mind if your clothes end up all being the same shade of beaten-up gray by the end of the year. At the very least, you should separate into loads by size. If the washer is more than ½ – ¾ full, you run the risk of breaking the centrifuge. Also your clothes won’t get clean if everything is too closely packed together. So don’t stuff the washer too full.


Fig 7. This washer is properly filled to around ¾ full.


This should be necessary to say, but I’ve seen it happen. You should probably take your clothes out of the hamper before washing. Even if your hamper is a mesh bag and has holes, it’s not okay to just shove the whole thing in there. Your clothes is not going to get very clean unless you let them be flung about the inside of the washer without constraints. You should only keep something inside a mesh bag during a wash if it’s very fragile.


Laundry detergent, bleach, and fabric softener


Laundry detergent is the soap that you use for your clothes, and it is specially formulated to be used in a washing machine. It’s incredibly concentrated, and you should less than you think you need. It comes in both liquid and powder forms, as well as in “pods” that can be tossed in with your wash.


Half a capful or scoop for a normal load should be fine.


DO NOT use dish soap, hand soap, or body wash in the laundry. You will end up with a bubble party in the laundry room. It will be a pain to clean.


Fabric softener is usually sold next to the laundry detergent. While the bottles often look nearly identical, it’s not soap, and will not clean your clothes. It does, however, make your clothes smell nice and feel softer. I may have used fabric softener once or twice instead of detergent by mistake. My jeans were incredibly soft, but were still kinda dirty. To properly use it, you should add it to your laundry at the same time as your soap. However, use of fabric softener is by no means necessary to properly do your laundry.


In the same section of the store, you can buy bleach. It’s a very strong chemical, and it’s pretty good at making clothes turn white or orange. It should only be used on white fabrics. If even a drop of it gets on darker fabrics, it will probably leave a prominent white or orange stain where it touched. Bleach also does a good job of killing bacteria, so it should be used when you wash white sheets, underwear, and socks.


If you have asthma or other respiratory issues, you might want to stay away from using too much (or any) bleach, as it can severely irritate your airways with the fumes. Your laundry won’t be harmed by foregoing bleach usage, I only use it a few times per year myself.


And if you use bleach to clean other things (like your sink or toilet) never never ever mix bleach with ammonia. This creates chloramine gas, which will probably kill you if you breathe it.



How much detergent, fabric softener, and bleach to use?


Your washing machine probably has a guide for how much to pour. For detergent, roughly half a capful or half a scoop (for powder detergents). Half a capful of fabric softener is probably also fine. For the bleach, follow the guide on your washer’s “pour bleach here” area.


Fig. 8: Most washers have a guide for how much detergent or bleach to apply.



The Dryer


The dryer, well, dries your clothes. It consists of a spinning barrel that blows hot air on your clothes as they are flung about, and vacuum to keep the air flowing. There is also something called a lint screen to catch the lint, loose fibers, and dust that gets blown off of your clothes as they dry.


Fig. 9: Clean the lint screen before every use to make sure your clothes dries properly and doesn’t catch on fire.


It’s important to clean the lint screen before every use. Why? Because full lint screens block airflow. At best, it will take longer for your clothes to dry. At worse, this leads to overheating, and fires. I’ve seen it happen in college, and it was very inconvenient for everybody. And dangerous, too.


Fig. 10: This is what happens when you don’t clean your lint screen before using your dryer.


When you’re filling up the dryer, note that the more clothes you shove in, the longer it will take for everything to dry.


There are anywhere between three and 20 heat settings on any given dryer. They might be named “hot” and “cool,” or they might be named for the fabric types “sheets” “knits” “delicates” “colors,” etc.


Generally, the settings for “sheets,” “towels,” and “whites” will use high heat. This helps them dry faster and to kill odor. However, it beats up your clothes a little more, and is more likely to shrink things.


“Colors,” “delicates/perm press,” and “knits” will use lower heat, and maybe even cool air. This helps the clothes to last longer, and most importantly, not shrink.



Shrinkage and the land of the missing socks


There are two interesting phenomena that happen around dryers. The first is called clothing shrinkage.


For clothing that has a lot of elastic, the heat of the dryer will cause the elastic to contract. This pulls all of the fabric tighter, and can make your clothes several sizes too small. I once accidentally put a stretchy dress in the dryer, and it returned to me as a stretchy shirt. In addition to synthetic fibers, cotton also shrinks in the dryer. Some people even buy their 100% cotton clothes one size too large, because they’re counting on shrinkage.


This shrinkage is rarely uniform, however. I’ve had one sock shrink to the size of a baby foot, while the matching sock remained normal. If you’re drying clothes that you don’t want to shrink, it’s best to air-dry them.


The second dryer phenomenon is called the missing sock problem. Sometimes, two socks will go into the dryer, and only one will come out. Where does it go? Heaven knows. At this point, you can only hope to loose the other one too. (Though sometimes socks get stuck in the rubber gasket of the washer, it’s worth looking there if they were lost pre-dryer) Also, if you have cats or dogs, they might be stealing them. My cat is a dirty sock thief.




Chapter 4: Oral Hygiene


Now that you know all about how to clean your body and your clothes, let’s move on to your mouth.


Now let’s be real. Your smile probably doesn’t look like the model in a Crest commercial. And that’s fine! It doesn’t have to. But you don’t want it to look like Austin Powers in 1969 either.


Fig. 11: Austin Powers probably should brush his teeth more.


But don’t kid yourself, your mouth is important. Whenever you talk to somebody, they get a waft of your breath. You don’t want them to be grossed out by getting a waft of your last meal; it’s much better if they get a breeze of refreshing peppermint.


As they look at your teeth, you want them to notice how well kept they are, rather than get distracted by a chunk of your lunch that stuck around longer than it was supposed to. Or worse, get disgusted by seeing a yellow buildup of plaque, permeated by the brown and black stains of cavities.


People with fresh breath and an un-offensive smile tend to be perceived better by others. According to a study in the Journal of Dentistry, where subjects were asked to give their impressions of people before and after orthodontic work, “after [orthodontic] treatment, faces were rated as more psychologically adjusted, more sociable, more likely to be successful and more attractive…


Additionally, having good oral health is actually important for your entire body’s health! Gum disease increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, due to the bacteria in your plaque actually entering your bloodstream through bleeding gums.

Poor oral health is also linked to the worsening of respiratory conditions, via the same mechanism.


So, having good oral hygiene is important for social reasons as well as health reasons.


Let’s explore how to make the most out of your mouth, starting with the easiest to attain: fresh breath.



Fresh Breath


Remember how your body, your PJs, and your sheets can sometimes get a little funky overnight, due to bacteria breeding in the moisture your sweat produces? Your mouth is no exception (except your mouth isn’t sweating, it’s salivating.)


It’s a good thing that we have bacteria in our mouth. They help us break down our food before we get around to actually digesting it. They like the moist, warm environment, and we feed them regularly. But when they have nothing to do, they get smelly.


Many people try to control their breath with the frequent use of mints or gum. And mints are great! They’re amazing for a quick freshening up in the middle of the day, or right before you talk to somebody important. But mints alone aren’t enough to have a healthy mouth.


To get your breath smelling fresh and keep your gums healthy, the first thing you should do is BRUSH YOUR TEETH. At the very least, you should brush your teeth in the morning and in the evening before bed. Many people brush more often than that, to keep their mouths feeling clean after a sugary meal.


The toothpaste will help to kill some excess bacteria, while scrubbing away any gunk that has been deposited on your teeth from meals (or overnight). The minty taste will leave your breath smelling fresh. The soft bristles of the brush will spread the cleansing toothpaste slurry, while gently massaging your gums to improve circulation and lower your risk of gingivitis (gum disease).



Picking a toothbrush/toothpaste


Picking the right toothbrush for you is important. Almost all dentists recommend using an electric toothbrush, as they simply clean better.


However, many people prefer toothbrushes that require manual motion. I do too. But picking the right one can be difficult! Some have circular patterned bristles, while some are in neat rows. Some might be too big to comfortably fit in your mouth, while others are too small. Some might have strange rubber bristles that are meant to massage your gums while brushing. So, what to do?


Dentists recommend choosing brushes with softer bristles, and replacing brushes as soon as they get old (when the bristles at the ends start to bend outwards and in different directions.) Brushing with bristles that are too hard might clean well, but will irritate your gums. Brushing with old toothbrushes will both irritate your gums and not clean well.


Fig 12: This toothbrush shows examples of frayed bristles towards the top, and intact ones towards the bottom.


For the most part, whether the bristles are in a circle or a line won’t matter. Having rubber massagey-things probably won’t make a huge difference. Just pick the soft-bristled brush that fits your mouth well, and be sure to replace it when it’s necessary.


When you brush, you should use soft, circular motions that encompass both your teeth and your gums. You should never press hard enough to make your gums bleed. (If your gums bleed no matter how hard you press, you might have gingivitis, or gum disease. Brush as softly as possible, and see your dentist about what to do. Also, get a good mouthwash to keep your mouth clean in the meantime. )


Dentists recommend that you spend at least two minutes brushing, at least twice a day. That should be plenty of time to clean all surfaces of your teeth with the soft, circular motion described above. Make sure to get your molars in back too, as they are hard to reach and often collect plaque.



Toothpaste Options


For the most part, go with whatever toothpaste strikes your fancy. I’m partial to Vanilla-Mint flavor.


However, if you are prone to cavities, ask your dentist if they can recommend a toothpaste with a high fluoride content. It’ll help protect your teeth from additional cavities.


If you have sensitive teeth that often hurt with temperature changes, eating, or brushing, Sensodyne is a great brand to use. It helps reduce tooth pain, and is gentler than other toothpastes.





Many people follow their brushing with a quick rinse of mouthwash. It’s not required, but it can help improve bad breath and keep your gums from getting infected. Any commercial brand of mouthwash should be fine. Just remember to spit it out, not drink it.





Lately, the benefits of flossing have been called into question. Flossing wasn’t included in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for 2015, but the ADA and the US Surgeon General still recommend daily flossing.


So why floss, even though it’s annoying, and makes our gums bleed if we haven’t done it in a while?


Flossing cleans between your teeth, where your brush can’t reach. Bacteria can build up there too, and deposit plaque. If left unchecked, you might develop cavities between your teeth. And those are annoying to deal with.


If you really can’t stand wrapping floss around your fingers and reaching back into your throat, floss picks can be a great alternative. They’re a little less invasive, and almost as effective.


Fig 13: Floss Picks can help make flossing easier.



Tongue Scraping


If you have bad breath even after brushing and flossing frequently, I would recommend getting a cheap tongue scraper. Simply run it across your tongue to scrape off the top layer of saliva and bacteria, starting at the back of your throat and working your way forward. Rinse with mouthwash afterwards. It can do a lot to improve your breath!



The Dentist and the Orthodontist


The main medical professional assigned to keep your mouth healthy is your dentist. Generally, you’ll want to see a dentist at least once a year (more if you have a high risk of gum disease.) During this visit, your dentist will clean your teeth, and take X-rays to monitor any invisible cavity growth, and to keep track of your teeth coming in straight. Occasionally, X-rays reveal bigger problems, such as bone abscesses or impacted teeth.


Cavities are something you’ll want to go to your dentist to take care of. Cavities are caused when your oral bacteria break down sugars that are left on your teeth. In doing so, they produce acids. Plaque, or a buildup of bacteria, sugar, and acid, clings to your teeth and wears down the protective coating on your teeth called enamel.


Once your enamel has been eaten away, the bacteria get to the stuff beneath it, called dentin. They can even continue past the dentin, and get to the nerves inside your teeth. This hurts, a lot.


Rotting teeth don’t look nice. Cavities are brownish-blackish, and tend to spoil the nice whiteness around them. Additionally, they make your breath smell bad. Rotting stuff never smells nice, and rotting teeth are no exception to this. And really, the pain caused by cavities can be excruciating. So it’s best to get your dentist to treat them as soon as you can.


As you can probably guess, cavities are much more common in people with sugary diets. Soda = bad for teeth.


Dentists treat cavities by drilling away the rotten part of the tooth, and filling it with a ceramic filling. Over the years, fillings might fall out. But that’s okay, your dentist can put replacements in. Drilling the cavity successfully stops the rot, and the ceramic filling protects that part of your tooth. If your tooth decay has progressed into the realm of nerve damage, you might need to get a root canal done. This is where the rotting nerve attached to the tooth is killed, and removed. It sounds painful, but nowhere near as painful as a lifetime of pain caused by a rotting nerve. And once the root canal is done, no more pain in that tooth! Yay!


Root canals are occasionally needed in other circumstances, such as when a tooth gets knocked out. This kills the nerve, and the remains need to be properly removed to prevent infection.





Orthodontists are dentists too, they just have extra training. Specifically, they’re trained to straighten teeth and re-align jaws.


This can be done for cosmetic, as well as for medical purposes. If your jaw is misaligned, and your severe overbite or under bite is hindering your life, you’ll want to see an orthodontist. If your teeth are coming in too close together, and your mouth isn’t big enough to fit them all, your orthodontist can help.


Most people tend to associate orthodontists with kids getting braces, as it is very common for children to start getting their teeth straightened around the ages of 8-13. This is usually done for cosmetic purposes, because people believe that straight teeth look nicer. Braces can range from metal brackets that are glued and wired to your teeth to removable clear plastic coatings for your teeth to sit in. Either way, they’re designed to push and pull your teeth into a desired alignment.


However, it has become more common for adults to get braces, due to advances in orthodontic technology. The aforementioned “clear plastic trays” are nearly invisible, and are a popular choice among working professionals who want straight teeth without the shining brackets and bright rubber bands often associated with children.


Depending on where you live and if you can afford it, it might be worth getting braces to correct overly crooked teeth. Re-quoting the study from the Journal of Dentistry, “after [orthodontic] treatment, faces were rated as more psychologically adjusted, more sociable, more likely to be successful and more attractive…


These positive associations with straight teeth can translate directly into increased opportunities in everything from your relationships to your job. So consider carefully what the benefits are before you decide whether or not to get treatment.


Of course, if you can’t afford orthodontic work or have decided against it, it’s not the end of the world. And in many countries, orthodontic work isn’t seen as common or necessary. But keeping your teeth clean is important, regardless of how straight they are. So make sure to brush, floss, and get any cavities taken care of by a professional.



Other Dental Problems


Sometimes, you feel like you’re doing everything right and your oral hygiene just isn’t getting better. You brush enough, you floss enough, but your breath is still terrible. Your teeth feel smooth and clean, but they’re still yellow. Maybe you goofed the landing on that sick jump, and knocked some teeth out.


Fear not, there’s probably a solution.



Tonsil Stones


First, if your breath is still terrible despite brushing, you might have something else going on. One common cause of bad breath is halitosis, or tonsil stones. Your tonsils are little organs that sit just behind your molars, in your throat. They serve an immune function, and help us deal with the mucus produced by our sinuses. Sometimes, they get overworked, and mucus builds up inside them. This mucus calicifies into little (or big) nasty-smelling white clumps, which fill up your tonsils and slowly ooze out.


It’s unfortunate, because they make your tonsils swell up. Also, the little rocks, or “tonsil stones” smell really bad, as they’re basically just rocks of mucus, bacteria, and maybe some leftover food. Sometimes they itch the back of your throat, refusing to fall out, and sometimes they fall out at inconvenient times. I’ve read horror stories of people coughing their tonsil stones onto other people.


If you have tonsil stones, you might want to look into why. If you frequently have a runny nose, this can be a cause. Working to eliminate the cause of your runny nose can help prevent them. Additionally, using a mouthwash regularly can help to kill the bacteria that cause them in the first place.


Some people manually remove their tonsil stones as they become more difficult to deal with, by using a flashlight and a q-tip to gently push them out of their tonsils. Be careful if you choose to do this, as you don’t want to irritate your tonsils too much.


For some people with severe tonsil stones, they may opt to have surgery to get their tonsils removed. This surgery is commonly performed on children with severe tonsillitis that obstructs breathing, but can be performed for tonsil stone issues as well. As always, consult your doctor before getting your hopes set on an elective surgery: there might be a better solution, such as taking allergy medication or using a better mouthwash!



Chronically Yellow Teeth


If your teeth are chronically yellow, you should first talk to your dentist and schedule a thorough teeth cleaning. Yellow teeth can be the result of plaque buildup, or it can be just the color of your enamel.


You should use a whitening toothpaste to help whiten as you brush, but I would caution against rushing to over-the counter whitening strips or chemical baths. Those can often cause teeth to become much more sensitive, and over-use can unevenly whiten teeth or cause white spots to become visible (and permanent). Your dentist will be able to advise you on your particular situation and what’s best for you.



Missing Teeth


Accidents happen, and you might chip or even knock out a tooth. Chipped teeth can be repaired with ceramic caps, which look indistinguishable from your actual tooth. Talk to your dentist about it. If you knock out a tooth, you will first need a root canal. Unlike when a cavity slowly eats through to your nerve, knocking out a tooth directly kills the nerve inside of your tooth. It will decay, get infected, and cause lots of pain and damage if left unchecked, so make sure to see an emergency dental specialist as soon as possible. They might be able to put your tooth back in, with a white filling in place of the nerve to prevent “blue-tooth.” (That’s when your dead teeth look blue, not when your teeth interface with your phone.)


If not, dental implants can put ceramic teeth in place of missing ones, which will eventually fuse with your bone and become permanent. Dentures are also a surgery-free option for removable plate of fake teeth to cover your missing teeth.




Chapter 5: Other Personal Grooming


Wearing clean clothes, smelling nice, and having fresh breath all fall under the category of personal grooming. There are a few other things in the same category that can improve public perception of you with just a little maintenance.



General Hairstyles


Your hair is one of the most important factors to your overall appearance.

Its cleanliness, style, and texture will all factor in to how a person will perceive you.

For the most part, keeping your natural color will be fine. If you do wish to dye your hair, make sure to keep your touch-ups regular to avoid having differently colored roots (unless that’s what you’re going for.)


For the most part, hair styling is basically just trying keep your hair in place and reduce frizz. Whether you wear your hair curly, wavy, or straight is up to you. Though try and pick something that fits your face. But whatever you choose, you want your hair to stay how you put it. Use of hair gels, hairsprays, mousses, serums, straightening irons, flattening irons, and blow dryers can all help you keep your hair in place.


If you want a certain style, show a picture of it to your hairdresser the next time you get a trim. Ask them for products and styling techniques that they recommend for keeping your hair that way. If you want it naturally curly, they might recommend a foamy mousse or gel. Or if you want it styled in ringlets, maybe they will recommend a curling iron and spray. If you want it flat and shiny, they will recommend the best way to blow-dry it straight, or how to use a flat iron and keep the frizz away with a serum.


Keeping your hair trimmed somewhat regularly is also important. As your hair grows out, it accumulates something called split ends. This is where the ends of your hair actually split into thin fragments, which tangle easier than an un-split hair. They also look fluffier and won’t fall into style as easily. So even if you like to wear your hair long, you should at least get your ends trimmed every few months. Certain factors, like exposure to chlorine, sun, hair dyes, blow dryers, and hair irons will all increase your split ends. So if you frequently swim, dye your hair, or use hot styling methods, you should get trimmed more frequently.


Before leaving the house every day, you should take a look in the mirror at your hair. If your hair is long enough to get knots, comb or brush it. If you need to maintain any curls or reduce any frizz, use the appropriate hair product to touch up the style.



Facial Hair


Most people have some amount of facial hair. Both men and women usually have eyebrows, and men tend to have some additional thicker, darker hair around the upper lip and chin (the moustache and the beard, respectively.) This may grow in different amounts and patterns depending on the person, and can extend all the way up the cheeks, and all the way down the neck.


Women also have some hair on the upper lip and chin, though it is usually less than what men have.


What people prefer to do with their facial hair can vary incredibly from decade to decade, but I’ll describe the current grooming trends so you can make your own decisions.




Eyebrow hair color, thickness, and growth patterns vary from person to person. Some people have neat, orderly hairs that perfectly adorn the brow line. Some people have chaotic, curly hairs that form a solid line across both eyes (a unibrow). A blonde person may not look like they have any eyebrows at all from a distance. And many people have a combination of types, with curly hair in one part of their eyebrows and straight hair in another.


The current fashion is to appear to have two brows (sorry, unibrow-growers) and to wear them in a groomed, but full style. The natural shape of your brows should be kept, but stray hairs that grow outside of the main shape should be removed. Generally, eyebrow grooming is stressed for women more than men. However, just plucking the stray hairs can make a big improvement in appearance for both genders.


Fig 14: These eyebrows were professionally plucked to follow the natural brow shape roughly a week before this photo was taken. As small, dark hairs continue to grow outside the main brow shape (area outlined in red), they will need to be plucked or waxed to maintain a neat appearance.


Stray eyebrow hair removal is done through plucking, waxing, or threading. Plucking involves using specialized tweezers to pull out unwanted hairs. Waxing is where warm wax is applied between a clean cloth and your skin, and the cloth is then yanked away to remove the hairs. Threading is using the action of twisting threads to trap and pull out hairs.


All of these methods pull out the hairs at the root, so they are slow to grow back. Never shave your eyebrows, as you would end up with eyebrow stubble within a day or two.


If you aren’t experienced with eyebrow shaping, you should see a professional to shape your eyebrows for you. They can usually be found at any mall or hair salon, and charge around $20-$40. Most people will maintain their eyebrows every few weeks or every month.


Sometimes, people with sensitive skin will react to certain methods of eyebrow grooming. Notably, people who use certain acne meds might have a chemical skin reaction to waxing. If you have sensitive skin and are afraid of reactions, it’s best to stick to plucking or threading.


Upper Lip and Chin hair


Generally, upper-lip and chin hair is seen as undesirable for women, but OK (and often desirable) for men. Women go through many options to remove the dark hairs that occasionally grow in those areas, including the plucking, waxing, and threading used for eyebrow hair removal. As women usually aren’t trying to maintain any shape for their lip and chin hairs, they will often do this at home on their own with tweezers or a waxing kit. However, it can also be easy to get them removed by your eyebrow artist on the same trip.


Women who find their chin or lip hair excessive and difficult to deal with may go the option to have it laser-removed. Laser hair removal can sometimes be paid for by medical insurance, but is often paid out of pocket. It can be expensive, but with enough treatments it will prevent the hair from ever growing back.


Beard and Moustache Grooming


For men, facial hair is usually acceptable. However, for those of you that have only recently started growing facial hair, wear it with caution. The new facial hair of a young man is usually more thin and patchy, and tends to look more like dark fuzz than the thick, strong, beard hair of an adult. Because it’s mostly pre-teens who have this type of facial hair, wearing it unshaved will mark you as being young. Many people think it looks better for young men to shave their facial hair until it’s fully grown.


Some lines of work might ask for men to be clean-shaven, but that’s not too common today. Generally, how men wear their facial hair will come down to culture and personal style.


A currently common style is for men to wear their beards very short, so it perpetually looks like four-day old stubble. However, if you do have a full beard or moustache, it should be properly groomed.


Facial hair, by nature, is usually wiry or curly. This can lead to a messy look. You can make it look cleaner by shaving the stray hairs around the edges of your beard or moustache, giving your facial hair a “hard border” and definite shape rather than a soft one.


Another thing that helps beards appear well-groomed is to make sure that the hairs are roughly even lengths. Having some patches of hair that are longer than others makes you look like a mountain man. So trim your beard to keep it in an even shape. And don’t forget to wash it!


It’s worth noting that some men have hair that grows nearly exclusively below the chin. While it’s not fair, it’s considered unfashionable and messy for these kinds of beards to be worn long. So it’s probably best to shave those neck beards until fashions change.



Body Hair


As with facial hair, body hairstyles come and go with the ages. In the 60’s, Sean Connery exemplified the peak of male fashion and attraction in his personification of James Bond. Part of that included the dense forest of hair on his chest.


Nowadays, body hair on men and women alike is usually kept to a minimum. Most women shave, wax, or laser their legs and armpits, and often add their arms to the mix. It’s also becoming common for men to shave their chest and back, but still often keep their leg, arm, and armpit hair.


However, it’s also becoming more common to be less judgmental about other’s body hair choices. So you shouldn’t feel too much pressure to change your body hair if it’s something you feel strongly about.


When deciding to shave, it’s important to keep your skin’s sensitivity in mind. Use sharp razors and change them often. If you have especially sensitive skin, use a shaving cream formulated to be soothing. And some people might need to wait a few days in between shaving sessions, so they don’t end up with razor burn. And always remember, when shaving areas with especially soft or wrinkly skin, you should stretch the skin as you shave it so the razor doesn’t nick any folds of skin and cause bleeding.


There are a number of razor types that people can use, from quadruple-bladed re-usable razors, to electric razors, to straight edge razors, and single-use disposable razors.


First of all, don’t use single-use disposable razors, unless you have no other choice. The heads aren’t flexible, so they will be much more likely to cause nicks or razor burn.


Fig 15: Left: a single use disposable razor. Don’t use these.

Right: A multi-use razor with a disposable cartridge. These have flexible heads that may be used many times, and the cartridges can be replaced as they get dull.


Between the other types, it’s all up to personal preference. With electric razors, you won’t get quite as close of a shave as you will with other types, but you will be less likely to get razor burn or cuts. Also, don’t press too hard with these. Counter intuitively; you’ll get a closer shave if you don’t press as hard.


Any bladed razor you use will become dull over time. For straight edge razors, just re-sharpen them or replace the blade. For other re-useable but disposable ones, just toss the razor cartridge by wrapping it in tape and put in a fresh one.





Makeup is worn primarily to cover skin blemishes and to enhance natural facial features, such as the eyes and lips.


There is a dizzying array of makeup products available for use, with variations in scent, texture, color, price, and everything else imaginable. Not to mention, there is a plethora of ways to apply your makeup, which will vary greatly depending on your age, your culture, your fashion, and your current setting. Some people believe that makeup should only be used to accentuate your natural features, while others might use their face as a canvas, and wear colors bright enough to rival their jewelry.


Style aside, we’ll focus on the common types of makeup that your average person would wear, and help you understand how to choose the right products for you.


Regarding brand choice, that’s up to personal preference. Some brands are more expensive than others, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are better. Makeup should never make your skin feel uncomfortable: if it’s causing you to itch, develop a rash, or making your skin break out, you need a new brand. So if you have sensitive skin, you might want to try a hypoallergenic brand and make sure to throw away old makeup.


Foundation and Concealer


Foundation and concealer are flesh-colored types of makeup designed to even out your skin tone. Foundation is usually a thin liquid, and applied with a brush or makeup sponge. You should find a foundation that matches your base skin tone. Ideally, if you applied a thin layer to one section of your face, you shouldn’t be able to really notice that there’s makeup there save for the slight covering of freckles and blemishes.


A lot of people make the mistake of having a foundation that is too dark, too light, or too thick for their face. Foundation that is the wrong color will make you look unnatural, and foundation that is too thick will appear pasty and fake. Powder foundations exist too, but have become less popular lately.


Concealer is thicker than foundation, and is designed to cover up individual spots, scars, and blemishes. It’s too thick to be used over the entire face without looking pasty, but is good for small patches here and there. It should blend very well with your foundation and skin color so that it doesn’t stand out.




Blush is a reddish powder, liquid, or cream that is meant to mimic the natural blood-flow generated when you actually blush. Some people even use lipstick as blush, as it works nearly identically to cream blush! Lightly flushed cheeks tend to make the eyes look brighter, and mimic the healthy glow one gets after light exercise or after talking to a crush. Blush should be lightly applied over the apples of the cheeks (the part that sticks out the most when you smile) and blended with the surrounding areas. Red cheeks don’t naturally have any hard lines, and neither should your blush.


Eye Makeup


The three main parts to eye makeup are eyeliner, eye shadow, and mascara. The eyes are a very sensitive and vulnerable part of the body, so make sure to throw away eye-makeup that is getting too old. While there’s a chance that nothing bad will happen, many people recommend changing eyeliner and mascara every 4-6 months, and eye shadow every year.


Eyeliner is a powder, pencil, or liquid that is thinly applied around your natural eyelash lines. It’s meant to accentuate your eyes and make your eyelashes look thicker and darker. How you put on your eyeliner is very much dependent on personal style and preference, and the products you use will vary depending on that. The color and thickness of the liner you apply will affect how natural or bold your makeup looks. Generally, because liquid eyeliner uses hard lines, it looks the least natural. Pencils and brushed on powdered eyeliners can easily look more natural if you stick to the colors of your hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes.


Eye shadow is usually a powder that is brushed on, but can also be a liquid or cream. As with eyeliner, it can use natural colors to accentuate the natural shape and color of your eye, or it can use bold colors to be a fashion statement.


Mascara is a thick liquid that is applied with a special applicator to the eyelashes. Generally, mascara is designed to make the eyelashes appear thicker, darker, and longer. It comes in varieties that are waterproof or non-waterproof. If you have watery eyes, will be walking in the rain, or swimming, get waterproof mascara.



Our lips are naturally a little redder than our surrounding skin. As such, it’s common to accentuate this feature with make up. Lipstick is a solid stick of color that can be applied on the lips (and sometimes the cheeks as a creamy blush.) Lip gloss can be colored or clear, and is a shiny fluid that can be applied either over lipstick or by itself. Make sure when choosing lip products that you match your natural coloration tastefully, unless you are purposefully trying not to.


When applying your makeup, you will generally do so with makeup brushes or spongy pads. The spongy pads can be disposed of and replaced. Brushes are usually more expensive (though they give a better application and are less wasteful of the product), and should be washed out with specially formulated makeup brush cleaner every so often. Over the months, makeup (especially liquid makeup) will build up in the brush and start to split the bristles or effect application. So wash them as often as they get to that point, or more frequently if you have sensitive skin.


Every evening, you should wash your face thoroughly to remove makeup residue. Leaving makeup on overnight can clog your pores and cause acne, not to mention get your sheets dirty. Many brands of cosmetics sell their own makeup removers, many of which are basically a mix of mineral oil and water. You should follow the use of makeup remover with a gentle face soap, ideally finishing up with a light lotion.


In general, how you wear your makeup is very much a personal style choice. However, there may be more or less appropriate places to wear certain types of makeup. Bold colors of eye shadow will be much more appropriate at a cocktail party than at a funeral. And depending on your school/workplace and how much it stresses blending in, it might be a good idea to emulate the makeup of the people around you. At a makeup store, you might be required to wear heavy makeup and artistically applied eye shadow. But at a corporate office, you might be encouraged to wear more natural colors that blend in with your features. If you’re in school, they may have specific rules about appropriate makeup that you should adhere to as well.


A good rule of thumb is to emulate the people around you that you especially admire. If you want to be the CEO one day, look at how the executives dress and make themselves up. And emulate that where appropriate (that doesn’t mean to wear a suit to your job as a server at Wendy’s just because you want to run the company one day).



Chapter 6: Environmental Cleanliness


So far, all the previous chapters have been about improving body hygiene. For our final chapter, we’ll focus on improving the cleanliness around us. Overall, I would still say that body hygiene is the most important (after all, nobody you meet on the street will notice if your house is a mess inside. They will notice, however, if you smell like goat in the rain.)


That said, your environmental cleanliness does matter for yourself, and for anybody who happens to come over to your house (unless you don’t mind people being repulsed by the fungal farm growing in your sink and toilet.)


Environmental Cleanliness boils down to two main things: organized appearance and clean air.



Organized Appearance


As far as organized appearance goes, the most important thing you can do is to reduce clutter. Our lives are made up of tons of tiny things: little gadgets and appliances that all serve a purpose. But you don’t want all of your gadgets covering your table. Everything needs to have a place, and your life will be a lot more organized if things go back in their place when they’re done being used.


That said, it makes sense to have some things out and accessible. Particularly, the things you use most frequently. If you write a lot, pens and pencils don’t need to be hidden in the back of your closet. Keeping them in a jar on your desk will keep them together while keeping them accessible. However, the things you rarely use should be stored in a less accessible location to make room for the more frequently used items.


Stores like Ikea, Bed Bath and Beyond, and the Container Store have lots of storage solutions for every room in the house: check them out if you find yourself in need of somewhere to store all your crap.



Clean Air


In terms of clean air, it starts with eliminating unpleasant odors from your house or apartment. Things like trash, cigarette smoke, unwashed sheets, and dirty dishes will add an unpleasant smell to your air and repel guests. But it goes deeper than that.


In fact, numerous studies have shown the existence of something called indoor air pollution. Most things in your house will in some way affect air quality. If you can smell it (and sometimes even if you can’t), it’s definitely exuding gasses that may or may not be harmful to you.


In addition to smelling bad, dirty dishes or trash that hasn’t been taken out in a while might be growing mold, and adding harmful spores to your air. Burning wood in your charming fireplace without proper ventilation might be releasing carbon monoxide into your home. The new laminate floor you got might have been treated with formaldehyde, which can cause cancer. The solvents used in your paint might be leaching out through your walls, and the synthetic stuffing in your sofa might also be off-gassing. And while houseplants may help absorb your carbon dioxide and look pretty, the soil might be a breeding ground for bugs or mold if it’s not properly drained.


All of these sources of indoor air pollution (and many more) can cause respiratory distress, and other health consequences. Of course, some of these things are virtually unavoidable. But others are very much preventable, and I’ll walk you through the steps to reduce indoor air pollution while keeping your house clean and presentable for guests.



Kitchen Cleanliness


I get it, not everybody is a master chef. And not everybody uses their kitchen for anything more than storing beer and microwaving ramen. Or maybe you do like to impress friends with your gourmet meals from La Barenne Practique. There’s still no excuse for a dirty kitchen.


You might not have the chance to do dishes after every meal. That’s fine. But at least every day you should either hand-wash your dishes or run a dishwasher. It might not seem like a bad idea to use your sink as the dish-storage, and wash dishes as you need them, but it’s really a filthy habit. Old food attracts fungi, bacteria, flies, and worse: cockroaches. And once you get cockroaches, they’re really hard to get rid of.


And I didn’t even get into rats or mice. If you live in an older dorm or apartment building, I can nearly guarantee that there are at least some cockroaches or mice. So wash all of your dishes daily, lest you end up having bugs sharing your meals.


To wash your dishes, at the very least you will need a scrubbing device and some dish soap. Get the scrubber wet, and apply a squirt of soap to it. Rub this on the wet dish until the food has been loosened from the dish. Rinse the dish, and place it to dry (or hand dry it with a clean, dry dishtowel.)


You may alternatively give the dish a brief pass with the scrubber before placing it in a dishwasher. When loading a dishwasher, make sure that no dish is blocking the water stream to other dishes. Many dishwashers have a spinning water blade beneath the bottom rack. Some, but not all have a water blade for the top rack as well. If you place something bulky (say a cup or bowl) so that it blocks the only water source, nothing above it will get clean. So if your dishwasher only has one sprayer on the bottom, make sure that all the bulky items go on the top rack, and that the items on the bottom rack are vertically aligned to allow water passage.


Fig 16: Align your dishes vertically so the water can spray all the way to the top rack.


Make sure that you use a soap formulated for dishwashers in your dishwasher. If you try to use anything else, you’ll end up with a bubble party in the kitchen.


If you find that your hands get too dry after washing the dishes, use flexible dishwashing gloves, which can be found at any grocery store.


Another thing that attracts pests (and looks nasty) is spilled crumbs or liquids. It’s really easy to spill things on the stovetop when cooking, in the microwave or end up with splashes or crumbs on the floor. But for the sake of keeping your guests from losing the meal you just prepared for them, do try and clean the gunk off of your stovetop and floor weekly, if not after every messy meal preparation. The longer you let stuff sit, the harder it is to clean. Using your dishrag/sponge and some soap should be good for the stovetop, and either a broom+ dustbin or a mop is excellent for keeping the kitchen floor clean.


Wipe off your table daily too, to keep sticky residues and crumbs from building up. It’s just unpleasant to be over at somebody’s house and end up with your elbow in some maple syrup left over from last week Sunday.



Food Storage


Keep the food in your cupboard in sealed, airtight containers. It’ll help your food last longer, and keep the pests at bay. Bugs are much more likely to take up residence in an apartment with open bags of chips, loose cereal flakes, and some spilled flour in every cupboard than an apartment where all the food is kept in sealed glass or plastic containers.


A lot of people strongly believe that you can tell a lot about a person by their refrigerator. I tend to agree. A person who stores nothing but beer, ramen, and a bottle of ketchup in their fridge likely doesn’t take very good care of themselves. On the other hand, a person with a wide selection of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and beverages in their fridge seems a little more put together.


Of course, the key here is “fresh.” If that lettuce has been in your fridge for more than a few days, you need to toss it. If the apple has started growing a tree, also toss (or plant!) it.



Here’s a general set of guidelines to keep your refrigerator fresh.


Fresh dairy products will keep until their expiration dates until opening. After you open them, you expose them to a wealth of bacteria from the air, and they will start to go bad within a few days. 3-5 days is usually a good rule to consume opened dairy by.


Meat will keep usually around 3 days raw, and 4-5 days after cooking.


Fresh fruit and veggies will vary in lifespan, but it’s usually good to eat it within 1 week of purchasing. Some things, like lettuce and strawberries, will need to be eaten much more quickly.


So it’s usually a good idea to plan your grocery outings so that you always have a variety of healthy food at home, but eat it before it starts to spoil.


Sometimes, your refrigerator will pick up an odor. This could be because of something spilled in it, or maybe because you’ve been storing strong-smelling food (like seafood.) Regardless, it’s not pleasant when you open your fridge and get a waft of something smelly. To prevent this, many people keep an open box of baking soda in their refrigerator. The baking soda reacts with the organic compounds produced by your fridge, and turns them into another kind of molecule that doesn’t smell. Occasionally, the baking soda will need to be stirred up and/or replaced.


Another thing that works quite well is storing an open container of used coffee grounds in your refrigerator. The nitrogen in the caffeine is great at pulling smelly sulfur compounds out of the air, and it’s a pretty readily available material for most coffee-drinking people. If you use a single-serving coffee maker with pods, you can still harvest the grounds by cutting open the pod/cup and emptying the grounds that way.


For the most extreme cases, activated charcoal powder works wonders in a smelly fridge.


All of these things can be used to remove the odors for other rooms too, so keep that in mind if you have a room of the house that is particularly smelly.



Emptying the Trash and Recycling


Sure, emptying the trash can be a pain. Nobody wants to struggle with a bag full of food scraps and other trash while wrestling it outside. Especially if the bag is smelly or worse: leaky. But keeping it in your kitchen is much worse. Even if it’s stored in a cupboard, the smell of rotting food and the spores produced by mold will be released into the air you’re breathing. This can lead to respiratory problems for you, and attract pests. So take out the trash daily if there’s anything in there that can rot.


Some people find it more motivating to use smaller trashcans, or even just re-use grocery bags to store trash. They fill up much more quickly, and need to be changed more often. So you might want to look into that if you feel like it’s a waste to empty a half-full trash can, even if it does smell like road kill.


Recycling may not need to be taken out as much as trash, depending on the content. It’s recommended that you rinse everything before you put it in the recycling.


Sugar residue on soda cans will attract bugs, but it’s fine to leave them if you’ve rinsed away all the sugar. If you’re tossing pet food cans, those will start to smell awful as the meat products in them start to rot. Washing them thoroughly before recycling will reduce this, but it might be easier to just take out the recycling more frequently.



Bathroom Cleanliness


Cleaning the bathroom is something that unfortunately escapes a lot of people. They might remember to fold their laundry and put away the clean dishes, but have 5 colors of fungus growing in their toilet bowl, hairy shaving cream residue all over their sink, and have stale towels that smell like a mountain man’s hat.


As the bathroom will get exposed to high humidity on a daily basis, it’s especially important to keep it clean. If you don’t, everything will begin to look and smell like mold, which is gross and bad for your lungs.



The Bath/Shower


This area gets a literal flood of water every time it’s used. What happens when water isn’t allowed to dry? It starts growing things. Anywhere that the water collects, be it underneath a shampoo bottle or trapped within the folds of a shower curtain, will be a ripe place to start a new fungal or bacterial colony. Additionally, many places have hard water. Calcium and other mineral deposits will build up on surfaces that water is allowed to evaporate on, and cause water spots. Have you ever noticed that a formerly shiny showerhead or handle is now forming stalactites? That’s probably hard water deposits. While they’re not harmful, they aren’t pretty either.


In addition to being exposed to water, the shower is also exposed to a variety of soaps and shower products. Sure, soap can help make things clean. But only when it’s properly washed away afterwards! Often, the soaps used in the shower aren’t properly rinsed off of every surface. And they begin to build up a residue. Stuff sticks to this residue, whether it’s dust or the hairs left over from shaving.


And then we get to the shower drain. Anybody with hair knows that hair can collect in the shower drain, and end up blocking it. If you have a screen blocking your drain, make sure to empty it every time you shower, to get rid of the extra hair. For those of you without a screen, chances are the hair is going directly down the drain. It will likely get tangled on something down there, and begin to trap other hair. Eventually, you get a gigantic hairball full of shampoo, shaving cream, and everything else that went down the shower drain. And this blocks water flow, and causes your drain to back up. Your shower then becomes a murky, ankle-deep bath, and any soap residue buildup is exacerbated by the slow drain time.


And all this is unavoidable with regular shower usage, which is why cleaning your shower is important. Every week or two, it’s recommended that you first remove all the bottles and objects from the shower area. Then, get a scrubbing sponge with some cleaning product (vinegar or baking soda works pretty well for natural cleaners) and scrub off every surface the water touched.


For especially tough residues, melamine foam (magic eraser) is a great scrubbing device. But don’t use it too much, or it will wear away the surface of whatever it touches over time.


Shower curtains will be difficult to clean, so they can be either taken off and laundered, or just replaced every few months (they’re pretty inexpensive.)


Directly outside of the shower or bath, you should have an absorbent floor mat for people to step on as they leave the shower. This should be washed weekly or bi-weekly, as it will otherwise begin to collect hair and water and will start to smell like mildew.



The Toilet


There are two pieces of equipment everybody needs for their toilet: a plunger and a toilet brush. Regarding the plunger: buy it before you need it. And store it in a place where anybody can access it if needed. There are two types of plungers commercially available. One is for toilets, one is for sinks. Buy the toilet type (has a phalange on the inside), as the sink type will not work well to unclog toilets.


The toilet brush is for your use, when you scrub the inside of your toilet. This should happen as often as you start to notice a buildup of anything inside the bowl. Usually, there will be some sort of bacterial or fungal buildup around the water line, and may be orange or yellow in color. If left unchecked, the color will deepen and the colonies will start to spread to the other parts of your toilet, making it look like a petri dish.


To clean your toilet: lift the toilet seat, and dip the toilet brush in the water. Put some cleaning product (Ajax type powder or a liquid toilet bowl cleaner) in the water and on the bowl. Use the toilet brush to scrub it around, and then flush.


Then, while wearing gloves (not your dishwashing ones please!), use a Clorox wipe or something equivalent to wipe off the toilet seat (first, the surface, then the underside). If the wipe still appears clean, you may also use it to wipe off the rim of the toilet bowl before throwing it away. If not, use a new wipe for this.



The Bathroom Sink


There are a few things that buildup on the bathroom sink. Mainly, toothpaste residue, shaving cream, personal products, dust, and hard water deposits. Thankfully, with minimal maintenance it is easy to keep the bathroom sink clean.


Once a week, or after the sink gets dirty, remove all the bottles, toothbrushes, and other things from the sink. Wipe off the dust, hair, and other residues with a cloth with some cleaning product. Even a baby wipe will be fine in most cases. Then replace everything where it was, making sure to wipe off anything else that looks dirty.


Many people store their toothbrushes in some sort of container that keeps them upright. Some of these have open bottoms, and some are closed, like glasses. If it has an open bottom (often with a collecting dish), the water and residue that drips off your toothbrush will collect and evaporate. Once you start to notice buildup, wash off the bottom dish to keep it looking clean. If you store your toothbrushes in a glass, the water will have a harder time evaporating and will get foul more quickly. Wash out the glass and clean the bottom of your toothbrushes frequently.


Many bathrooms have a mirrored cabinet directly above the sink. You should clean off the mirror with some glass cleaner or vinegar at the same time you wash the rest of the sink. In general, the cabinet is useful for storing products to make your bathroom appear less cluttered, and for storing handy personal and medical products that you or a guest might need. Things you might want to keep on hand to make guests more comfortable include Band-Aids, anti-inflammatory medicines such as Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen, and extra toothbrushes. You should also probably store some spare toilet paper and some extra feminine hygiene products under the sink if you plan on having any female guests.



The Floor and The Trash Can


All bathrooms should have a small, lined trashcan within reach of the toilet. This is useful for throwing away tissues, used razor cartridges, empty bottles, and especially for throwing away feminine sanitary products. Any men who plan on having female visitors will make their guests feel comfortable by providing such a lined trashcan in the bathroom, so that guests won’t feel embarrassed if they have to throw away a pad or tampon. It will make female guests feel even more comfortable if the trash can has a lid. The bathroom trash should be emptied regularly, especially if it has biological waste like tissues or feminine products.


The bathroom floor collects dust and hair like any surface, and will thus need to be cleaned somewhat regularly. Every week or two should suffice. Make sure to vacuum, mop, or sweep (or some combination thereof) to get rid of the hair. Coming out of the shower with wet feet, only to have your feet stick to a bunch of fallen hair is a really unpleasant experience.



The Rest of the Bathroom


It’s probably a good idea to have a small scented candle and some matches in a readily available location in your bathroom. The medicine cabinet is a good place. That way, you and/or your guests will have the opportunity to light a match or candle to cover any unpleasant odors that are produced in the bathroom.


Just be sure to place the candle in a location where it won’t make anything catch on fire.


I mentioned in the Shower chapter that bathroom towels will need to be washed frequently, due to the moist environment causing a mildew smell. The same goes for the rugs, hand towels and washcloths. Wash them every week, and make sure they dry out completely between uses. I can’t even begin to count how many people don’t wash their hand towels, leaving any guest who dares use it to have mildew-scented hands. Gross.



Bedrooms and Living Rooms


A lot of how your bedrooms and living rooms look will come down to personal design choice. However, you should always make sure to reduce clutter as well as you can, whether you’re alone or plan on having guests.


Why? According to Psychology Today, having clutter in the home is an often overlooked, yet significant source of stress. Having clean, open spaces has been linked to higher creativity and enhanced ability to focus on work. Clutter does the opposite, by limiting creativity and distracting you. Additionally, if you in any way feel guilty about the clutter, it can cause feelings of helplessness and stress about the work never being done.


So invest in some furniture with storage capability, and make sure that you put things away after you’re done using them. Things that you use frequently can probably be artistically displayed in the open, but things that are infrequently used should be stored safely out of sight.


One area that people frequently struggle with clutter is with laundry. It’s so easy to shove the dirty laundry in one pile and keep the clean laundry in another. While it will obviously be better to keep your clean laundry in drawers or a closet, not everybody can manage to maintain that. So at the very least, have a clean clothes hamper and a dirty clothes hamper to keep your piles contained.


Oh, and try to make your bed if people are coming over. It just looks nicer.


Throughout your whole house, you should take care to remove dust, dirt, and hair buildup at least bi-weekly. Invest in a good vacuum for carpeted areas and hardwood. You can use brooms and mops on hardwood or tile as well, to get a deeper clean. Fluid stains will definitely need a mopping or some hand-scrubbing to remove.


Dust accumulates on surfaces besides the floor, and should be wiped away with a damp cloth during your cleaning. Glass can be dusted with vinegar or a window cleaner. If you find yourself having allergies, it’s worth wearing a medical facemask and using cleaning products that are not strongly scented.


It’s a bit of work to maintain a regular dusting/vacuuming schedule, but adds significant value to your quality of life, and will make a much better impression on guests.


As I mentioned in the laundry chapter, sheets and pillowcases need to be washed regularly, weekly or bi-weekly at the very least. Otherwise, your whole bedroom will smell funky. It’s a good idea to open a window and air out the place at least once a week, if not every day.





Closing Notes



Well, that’s about it! I hope that you all enjoyed this textbook slightly more than your school ones, and feel free to email if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.


Nobody paid me to write this book, and this content wasn’t sponsored by any brands. However, I did include a list of Amazon links to the kinds of products that I referenced throughout the book, which I personally use. You can find that on the next page.




Shay Skobeleva











This page has both natural and synthetic loofahs. Get them soaped up to help scrub yourself in the shower.


Aveeno Body wash



I’ve found this brand to be gentler on the skin than other body washes, but it still delivers a nice, cleaning foam. However, if you have very oily skin, you might need something stronger.


Cetaphil Face Wash



I really enjoy this facial soap: on my skin it removes oil without drying my skin out.


Eucerin Lotion



I’ve found this lotion to be a good option for moderate moisture needs. It rehydrates your skin without leaving a greasy film.


Ahava Lotions



In general, I’ve noticed that moisturizers by this brand help with acne and oil overproduction, while also moisturizing dry skin at the same time.


Clinical Strength Deodorants



For those of you who find that conventional deodorants just don’t work, you can try using clinical strength deodorants. They have a higher concentration of antiperspirant and will keep you dry for longer.


St. Ives Apricot Scrub (Large Grain)



I use this for my large-grain exfoliating needs. It also has salicylic acid (an aspirin-derivative that has anti-acne benefits).


St. Ives Green Tea Scrub (Medium/Small Grain)



This exfoliating scrub is a good option for those with more sensitive skin. It has a smaller grain than the apricot scrub, but will still buff away dirt and dry skin.


Nimbus Toothbrush



While dentists recommend that you use an electric toothbrush, I’ve found this one to be the best manual toothbrush I’ve seen. It’s a very soft bristle, and the longer fibers help clean between the teeth too.


Floss Picks



These can be a good option for those who find it annoying to floss through regular means.


Sensitive Toothpaste



Sensodyne is a highly recommended brand of toothpaste for those with sensitive teeth.


Tongue Scraper



If you have bad breath, or just want to feel cleaner, a tongue scraper can improve your oral hygiene significantly.


Tangle-free brush



If you have thick hair that’s painful to brush, using a very soft brush like this can help.





Tweezerman makes a great pair of tweezers. They stay sharp for a long time, are very effective in plucking hairs and splinters, and provide free lifetime sharpening if you send in a dull pair.


Bathroom Plunger



Buy one before you need it!


Bathroom Trash



Make sure you have a small trash can with a lid for all your bathroom waste. Guests will thank you.

Hygiene: Practice and Principle

Hygiene: Practice and Principle is a sarcastic textbook for young adults to learn the basics of not smelling like a mountain man. A favorite among high school and college students, it takes the reader on a humorous journey through everything from doing laundry without burning your house down, to showering enough to still have friends. "A hilarious and surprisingly informative lesson in taking care of yourself." -New York Times Reader "As a middle school teacher, I made this book required reading for my class. It's a great introduction to the science behind hygiene, and the odor of my classroom has notably improved." -A Grateful Teacher "People always liked hanging out with me, but nobody ever wanted to spend time at my apartment. Reading this book helped me realize that I needed to wash my sheets and towels more than once a year. Now people can come over without making up an excuse to leave fifteen minutes later." -A College Student

  • ISBN: 9781370712472
  • Author: Shay Garrison
  • Published: 2017-04-19 20:50:15
  • Words: 15566
Hygiene: Practice and Principle Hygiene: Practice and Principle