Are You a Germaphobe? | Toronto Condo Cleaning Service | Maid4Condos

Are You a Germaphobe?

Are You a Germaphobe? | Toronto Condo Cleaning Service | Maid4Condos
January 17, 2018

Are You a Germaphobe? | Toronto Condo Cleaning Service | Maid4Condos


Encountering dirt, bacteria and illness is a part of life that you can’t get away from- but are you a germaphobe? The reality is, germs are everywhere. You could practise the best hygiene and have the highest standards of cleanliness- and still take huge precautions against unwanted contamination. Yet you still may not qualify as a germaphobe! Yes, there is a huge difference between being cautious and tidy and suffering from germaphobia, or as the professionals call it- mysophobia.


Are You A Germaphobe? Upside Down
Are You A Germaphobe? Upside Down


Defining Germaphobia


The NHS defines a phobia as a ‘debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal’. The term ‘mysophobia’ was coined in 1879 by Dr. William Alexander Hammond to describe one of his patients who would constantly wash his hands. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Interestingly, those with anxiety and depression running in their family are at higher risk for developing this particular phobia. People with OCD are at a higher risk for developing mysophobia because they may already experience obsessive thoughts about germs, and might already be compulsively cleaning and sanitizing their homes.


Are You A Germaphobe? Sanitizer
Are You A Germaphobe? Sanitizer


However, it’s not just people with OCD who develop the phobia. Just like anything else, the compulsion to clean can be transferred from parent to child. Mysophobia can also be triggered by a trauma like a health scare. Current experts on the subject also say that the increased emphasis on public hygiene items like toilet seat covers and hand sanitizer have contributed to the rise of mysophobia in the United States.


Extremely Clean or Germaphobic?


Being extremely clean and being mysophobic are two different things. For instance, people who suffer from mysophobia have trouble evaluating which situations actually pose a threat to them. So, if you have no trouble going into a grimy public restroom – chances are you’re in the clear! People who suffer from mysophobia tend to feel panic in the most mundane, daily situations that involve germs. Additionally, they will then take extreme measures to avoid the supposed contamination, and decontaminate in spaces they can trust. Take a look at the list below to see if you possess any traits found in mysophobic people:


Signs of Germaphobia


  1. Avoiding places based on their perceived dirtiness
  2. Excessive time spent cleaning & decontamination
  3. Obsessive hand-washing
  4. Avoiding physical contact with others
  5. Refusing to share personal items
  6. Avoiding crowds or animals
  7. Fearing contamination of children
  8. Refusing to use public restroom
  9. Buying numerous cleaning products
  10. Ignorance of extreme exposure to cleaning chemicals



Overcoming Germaphobia


Like any phobia, the hardest part about overcoming mysophobia is learning how to correct irrational thoughts. In this case, thoughts about germs. There are a few ways a person could go about overcoming their fears. Overall, the best thing a person can do is educate themselves, through literature and videos, about how bacteria is a natural part of the environment and our bodies. Understanding the role that bacteria plays in our bodies and in the world may start the process of change.


Are You A Germaphobe? Therapy
Are You A Germaphobe? Therapy


Though educating yourself is important, getting to the bottom of mysophobia usually requires therapy, medication- or a little bit of both. Specifically, antidepressant SSRIs are typically prescribed to help manage feelings of anxiety. All of these methods in conjunction with exposure therapy will help treat mysophobia. Exposure therapy is an important step in the healing process, as it allows individuals change their behavior in increments they feel comfortable with. For instance, increasing the time one takes between showers or hand washings.


The Irony of Germaphobes


Ironically, the cleaning rituals of mysophobia actually make those suffering more susceptible to contamination! Yep, the highly sterile environment that they surround themselves in doesn’t do anything good for their immune system. In fact, extremely sterile environments keep mysophobes from developing immunological resistance to bacteria, making them more susceptible to illness. And, the more a mysophobic person gets sick, the more they feel the need to clean- and so the cycle perpetuates itself endlessly!


Are You A Germaphobe? Mindfulness
Are You A Germaphobe? Mindfulness


As far as phobias go, the fear of germs can be particularly debilitating as it colours every interaction a person has in the world. However, there’s a bright side. It is a very treatable condition. If you surround yourself with the right educative tools and support system, you can learn how to manage your anxieties and go on to live a full and healthy life!


Hungry for more?


This post was brought to you by Maid4Condos, a top-rated residential cleaning service dedicated to the people of Toronto. Maid4Condos has been a committed partner to the Toronto cleaning and construction scene for years, and continues to provide exceptional cleaning services to clients. Get a FREE quote & book your cleaning today or follow this link to learn more of what we’re all about!


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Written by Savannah Binder, Maid4Condos

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