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16 Dirtiest Spots On The Body And How To Keep Them Clean

Billions of bacteria are living rent-free on our bodies. Some are harmless, while others can cause trouble. No matter how much we focus on hygiene, certain body parts still harbor bacteria, dirt, and germs that can lead to infections, sweat, body odor, and other issues.

You might think that taking a shower regularly, washing your hands before and after meals with soap, and brushing your teeth twice a day will keep you clean. But that’s not the whole story. Some body parts need extra care and attention to stay fresh and healthy.

This isn’t about becoming a germophobe and living in a bubble. Yet, knowing where and how to clean these dirty spots can make a big difference in your daily hygiene. This guide will walk you through the 16 dirtiest spots on our bodies and offer tips on keeping them clean. 

1. Mouth

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Many people believe their mouths are only dirty if they skip brushing and start noticing bad breath. While this is partly true, several other factors can cause halitosis (stinky breath) and oral health problems. The mouth is one of the dirtiest parts of the body, housing hundreds of different bacterial species. Dry mouth, medications, smoking, poor oral hygiene, kidney issues, gum diseases, poor diet, gastrointestinal problems, and impaired breathing can all contribute to halitosis.

According to the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, over 615 different types of germs and bacteria can inhabit a person’s mouth. 

To maintain oral hygiene, brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after every meal, use mouthwash before bed, and remember to floss. Schedule dental check-ups twice a year. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and avoid eating or drinking too many sweets throughout the day.

2. Tongue

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How often do you clean your tongue? Does the thought even cross your mind? Tongue cleaning is frequently overlooked, yet it’s crucial for oral health. Thanks to that thin layer of mucus coating it, your tongue can be a natural breeding ground for nasty bacteria, leading to plaque buildup, bad breath, a coated tongue, and other oral health issues. 

According to the studies, if you clean your tongue regularly, you can get rid of or at least reduce unwanted mouth bacteria to a significant level. Research also suggests that tongue scrapers are the most reliable and effective equipment for reducing halitosis (bad breath). Toothbrushes and mouthwashes, too, will help with tongue cleaning. 

3. Armpits

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Do you know which body part is a hotspot for bacteria due to hair and sweat glands? You guessed it right—it’s the armpits. Bacterial growth inside your armpits can lead to foul body odor that is publicly embarrassing and makes you question your hygiene. Even when you’re at rest or asleep, the bacteria in your armpits produce smelly thioalcohols that contribute to body odor.

Foul body odor is a clear sign that bacteria in your armpits are active. So, how can we tackle this issue? Wash your armpits every day with a good soap (not antibacterial). Apply deodorant or antiperspirant daily after the wash to keep odors at bay. What we eat can also affect our smell, so keeping up with a wholesome diet can help too.

4. Scalp

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Many of us have experienced greasiness on our scalps. Sweating, dirt, oil, and environmental pollutants are the leading causes of dandruff and other scalp conditions. The hair products we use, and dead skin cells can often accumulate on the scalp and then flake off. It is a condition known as “scalp buildup” or “hair buildup.” It is common for anyone to encounter salp buildup at some point. 

Infants sometimes develop thick, crusty yellow spots on their heads, known as cradle caps, in the first few months of life. However, adults aged 30 to 60 are more prone to scalp buildup caused by seborrheic dermatitis.

Regularly washing your hair with the right clarifying shampoo helps maintain a clean scalp. Be sure to rinse thoroughly, as leftover shampoo can irritate. While you don’t have to wash your hair everyday, establish a routine by choosing a few specific weekly days to shampoo your hair and stick to it.

5. Ears

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The ears are incredible organs that can clean themselves, but they can also get pretty dirty and gross. The outer part can gather all sorts of gunk, and the ear canal can clog up with earwax. If you don’t stay on top of it, you might end up with serious infections or even hearing problems.

To keep your ears clean, simply wipe the outside with a damp cloth. Never put anything inside the ear canal; it’s not a good idea. If you have a lot of earwax buildup, consider using ear drops or visiting a doctor to handle it safely.

6. Belly Button

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The belly button or navel is one of the most neglected parts of the body. This tiny hole at the lower part of our abdomen was pretty much the only source of our food supply when we were in our mothers’ wombs. However, despite its size, it is home to countless germs, dirt, bacteria, and sweat. 

Regardless of how frequently you shower, if you do not clean this part properly, it will store visible dirt and invisible germs. A dirty belly button can lead to several health issues. You can clean it with warm water and mild soap, using a cotton swab if necessary. Dry it thoroughly to prevent moisture buildup.

7. Fingernails

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Fingernails are the ones we chew when deep in thought and scratch when we itch. But have you ever considered how much bacteria they keep underneath them? While our nails may appear small, clean, and beautiful, they actually house more bacteria than most surfaces, even more than a toilet seat. 

Bacteria, dirt, and fungi can rapidly accumulate under our nails. According to an in-depth study, an average of 50,430 germs reside under each nail. This might make you think twice before biting your nails. To keep your fingernails tidy, wash your hands regularly and use a nail brush to scrub underneath them.

8. Feet

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If you’re not on top of washing up your feet regularly, the fungal infection that appears between the toenails, called “athlete’s foot,” can happen. Make sure to wash your feet every day, especially between the toes. Trim and clean your toenails regularly, and wear shoes that let your feet breathe to avoid moisture buildup. It’s an easy way to keep your feet healthy.

You should also wash your feet regularly with good soap and water. Afterward, dry them off with a clean towel or cloth. If they’re still giving you trouble, try using some footpowder to keep them fresh and stink-free.

9. Groin Area

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The groin area is a susceptible part of the body. It is prone to bacteria buildup because it is moist, just like our armpits. Moisture and bacteria can lead to infections and odors. 

Keep your groin area clean by washing it with gentle soap and water daily. Wear fresh, airy undies and swap them out often to stay clean, fresh, and comfortable. Avoid using fragrances and powder in this area. 

10. Back

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Keeping your back clean can be tricky as our hands cannot reach everywhere. You can have sweat and bacteria buildup, leading to acne and irritation. It’s not always easy, but caring for your back is essential.

Using a long brush or sponge is helpful for cleaning those tough spots on your back. And don’t forget to exfoliate regularly—it keeps your pores from getting clogged and makes your skin look and feel great.

11. Sensitive Areas

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The areas of the body where we get rid of fecal matter and urine (the exit point for waste products) rank the dirtiest. If basic hygiene is not maintained, microorganisms in fecal waste, including pathogenic ones like E. coli, can lead to infections and other health problems. The area is also moist and warm, which makes it the perfect place for bacteria to flourish. 

After using the toilet, thoroughly clean this sensitive area from front to back with soft, odorless toilet paper. If you want extra cleanliness, use a bidet or alcohol-free wet wipes for sensitive skin. The best thing to do is wash it with water and dry it afterward.  

12. Behind the Ears

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If you don’t clean the spot behind your ears regularly, it can get sweaty and dirty, which can cause funky smells and skin issues. If you rub your finger back from your ear, you will feel the dirt on your finger. This part might look clean, but in reality, it is not.

Remember to clean your ears every day. Use warm water and gentle soap, and dry them well afterward so they don’t stay damp.

13. Buttocks

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Your butt can hold onto bacteria and sweat, which can cause rashes and infections if you don’t keep it clean. As mentioned, this is the part where the excretion takes place. That is why the presence of germs is not surprising there.

Make sure to give your butt a good wash every day with some gentle soap and water. Be sure to dry it; this will prevent moisture, and hence, the bacterial growth will be reduced.

14. Inner Thighs

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Inner thighs might not cross our minds when we are washing our bodies. However, all that friction and sweat can irritate and stink up your inner thighs if you don’t keep them clean.

Wash your inner thighs with soap and water to keep things fresh down there. Wear loose, breathable clothes to help keep the area dry.

15. Forearms

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According to National Human Genome Research Institute research, the forearm—the region between the elbow and wrist—has the most significant number of bacteria after showering. The study found that the forearm is home to more than 44 different types of bacteria. This high concentration is probably caused by people’s habit of improperly washing this area of their body during hygiene routines. 

This is the part we think is germ-free, so we don’t clean it frequently. Wash and exfoliate it regularly with every bath (and hand washing).

16. Neck

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With all the sweat, dirt, and bacteria buildup, your neck can get pretty gross, especially in those skin folds. 

Wash your neck daily with soap and water. Rinse it off well and dry it entirely afterward. Exfoliating regularly can also help prevent clogged pores and keep your skin looking good.

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