How Do Germs Spread?

Germs! Though we try to avoid them at all costs, these tiny sneaky organisms creep up on us and make us sick without warning. Seemingly invisible, they can be passed onto each other through a myriad of ways, so it's important to learn the best ways to avoid them and keep our bodies at full health.


What are germs?

There are four different types of germs. Bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa.  Did you know that they don't only affect humans? Germs can also affect animals and plants. Here’s what we know about the different types of germs:


Bacteria: These are one-celled creatures that get their nutrients from their environment. It's important to know that bacteria can reproduce in or outside the body. That's why it can be found around your home as well as in your body. As you may have heard – not all bacteria is harmful to you! Some bacteria strains are good for our bodies. They sit in your gut, keep our bodies in balance and help us absorb nutrients.


Viruses: Unlike bacteria, viruses need to be inside a cell to grow and reproduce. They also can't survive long if they are not inside a living host, such as a human, animal or plant. That said, some viruses can survive a short amount of time outside of a host and can be spread by touch – which is why it's so important to wash your hands regularly.


Fungi: These multi-celled organisms are plant-like. They differ from other plants because they can't make energy from water, soil and air. They rely on another living thing such as plants, humans or animals to get their nutrition. Fungi are particularly fond of damp, warm places and can spread very quickly! Fungi causes athlete's foot and can affect the skin between people's toes.


Protozoa: Like bacteria, protozoa are a one-celled organism; however, they spread via water. They typically cause infections in the gut leading to symptoms such as nausea, diarrhoea and stomach pain.


Where do germs come from?

Germs can spread in lots of different ways. Typically, they are passed on through the air via sneezes and coughs. Some germs can also be transferred through touching something that is contaminated.


How long do germs live?

When germs find a host such as a person, they gobble up nutrients and energy, producing toxins that act as a poison to our bodies. It is these toxins that cause the dreaded symptoms that make us feel ill. The length of time germs hang around depends on what type of germ it is and where it is.

A variety of viruses can trigger the misery-inducing common cold. On cold hard surfaces such as rails, doors and keyboards, the cold virus can remain infectious for nearly 24 hours.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that gives you stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea and is spread by droplets through the air that can then rest on hard surfaces like buttons and tables for days or weeks if the conditions are right.


Why do germs accumulate in the toilet?

The toilet is heaven for germs and it’s not just the inside of the loo that you need to worry about. Of course, the toilet bowl is the main culprit because if particulate matter breeds bacteria and is left uncleaned, it can get out of control. However, you must also consider that the lid and toilet flush breed bacteria that has been passed on through touch.


What kills germs?

Here are our top tips on what kill germs:

  • Close the lid: Bacteria lingers in the toilet, and toilets with flushes are still hotspots for the spread of bacteria. When you flush, the germs in the bowl can be propelled into the air, so closing the lid goes a long way to protecting yourself.
  • Keep a regular cleaning routine: Keeping on top of your cleaning is critical. We recommend using a disinfectant like Harpic Germ and Stain Blaster in your regular cleaning routine, which is better than ordinary cleaners As a powerful toilet cleaner it will give you 100% more stain removal and 100% more germ kill^. For other areas in the bathroom apart from the toilet bowl, check out our guide on how to clean the bathroom for tips.
  • Use the right products: In addition to your regular cleaning routine, you can use toilet rim blocks to maintain freshness with every flush. Harpic Hygienic is a cage-free rim bock that prevents the build-up of stains and keeps your toilet fresher for longer.
  • Handwashing: It's important to use warm water and soap to clean your hands after a visit to the toilet; otherwise, you won't kill the bacteria on your hands. Don't forget to get right between each finger too – that's where bacteria love to hang out. You should be washing your hands for around 15 seconds.


Understanding what kills germs is helpful, but no matter how much we clean our living spaces, avoid spluttering people with hacking coughs, and meticulously wash our hands, we will invariably pick up a virus or two at some point. However, with Harpic, you can help minimise that risk so you can live a happier, healthier life!