Your kid's school uniform has 12,000% more bacteria than this household item -and it's grim but here's what to do

A new study has delivered a gross school uniform shocker for parents, we've got a quick and easy solution

School kid jumping up with school uniform on and muddy face
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Your child's school uniform has 12,000% MORE bacteria than this common household item according to a new study - be warned, it's stomach churning but here's what you can do to protect your family.

Back-to-school month has barely ended and if it wasn't hard enough picking out the best school shoes and the best back-to-school buys for the start of the new term, families are being hit with a warning over the hidden bacteria that maybe lurking in their child's school uniforms.

The levels of bacteria on a school uniform are astonishingly higher than some of the most contaminated surfaces we encounter on a daily basis - with over 12,000% more germs found on the uniform than those on a toilet seat - according to a recent study conducted by Bimuno®, the UK's foremost provider of prebiotic fibre supplements.

And while kids being off ill from school is both worrying and annoying for most parents, especially with the average childcare costs ever rising, the study does give an insight into the extent of bacterial exposure children face within school settings and how important it is to supporting their immune systems.

Róisín Pichon, Bimuno’s in-house nutritionist and gut health expert, explained, "The findings of this study are concerning, but not surprising. School uniforms are often worn for multiple days without being washed, and they can be exposed to a variety of environments, including playgrounds, school buses, and crowded classrooms. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria."

She added, "Parents can help protect their children from the bacteria on their school uniforms by washing them regularly and teaching their children to wash their hands frequently. They can also support their children's immunity by feeding them a healthy diet and giving them a prebiotic supplement, such as Bimuno® Kids Immunity."

Hidden bacteria in school uniform

School uniforms carry MORE bacteria than toilet seats

The research revealed that the cumulative colony-forming units (CFUs) per uniform worn by a child in full-time nursery amounted to 11,774,416, while the uniform worn by a child in Year Two at school harboured even more - 29,283,677 CFUs. And to put this into context, it's a staggering 12,353% more than the germs found on the average toilet seat.

young girl sat on a wall with her shoes off

(Image credit: Getty Images)

School socks carry MORE bacteria than a dog bowl

Many families have a pet, but while you might wash your child's school uniform more than your dog bowl, before the washing even takes place, the items of clothing are already contaminated with much higher levels of bacteria. For example, the number of CFUs detected on school socks was a startling 57,000, which exceeded the count found in a dog bowl by more than 20 per cent.

child holding nose as he holds a pair of dirty socks in his hand

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Items of school uniform carry MORE bacteria than public toilets

But even if you're house and cleaning regime is as strict as Mrs Hinch's, it is impossible to wash and dry your child's school uniform each day and while a quick sniff test or squirt with fabric freshener might be the least you can do to help your kids get the most wear of their uniform between washes, there's an issue that lays much deeper.

The new study has broken down individual school uniform pieces so that parents can identify which pieces might need a quick steam clean in between washes to reduce the bacterial transfer. 

How often does your child come home and toss their school dress on the floor or throw their cardigan on the kitchen worktop as they rush to grab a post-school snack?

Well, you might want to tweak your end of school day routine to help keep bugs at bay.

The study found that school dresses contained 1,700% more bacteria than a public toilet hand dryer and school cardigans contained 900% more bacteria than a public toilet door handle. 

Another comparison revealed that school cardigans carry over 1,000% more bacteria than the sole of a shoe. Who knew?!

two pairs of scuffed and worn out school shoes

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many of the common bacterial infections that youngsters can pick up at school includes Strep A, and recent data has seen more than a three-fold (345%) surge in Google searches for such bacterial infections, which highlights that there are concerns among parents over this kind of bacteria transmission.

How To Support Your Child’s Immunity

The gut microbiome, a community of trillions of bacteria that live in the gut, plays a vital role in overall health and well-being, including immunity. Around 70 per cent of your immune system is located in your digestive system, so supporting it with a balanced lifestyle and looking after your good gut bacteria is of great importance.

Taking care of your child's gut health is a great way to support their immunity. Here are Bimuno’s top tips:

  • Consider giving them a prebiotic supplement. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibres that feed the good bacteria in the gut.
  • Feed them a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods are packed with nutrients that support a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Encourage them to eat fermented foods, such as bio-live yoghurt, sourdough and pickles. Some fermented foods contain live probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that can help to improve gut health.
  • Limit their intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive antibiotics. These things can disrupt the gut microbiome and could weaken the immune system.

In other family news, we asked the experts how to tackle the top 10 school uniform stains - here's what they said... and there's also these cleaning and decluttering hacks and a feature on how to improve your gut health.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)