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NOTICE: DO NOT READ THIS ARTICLE AFTER A LARGE LUNCH.
Everyone thinks the dirtiest place in the home is the toilet bowl, right? You may be surprised—and disgusted—to discover that the National Sanitation Foundation discovered that the kitchen—areas where your food is stored and prepared—has more bacteria and fecal matter than any other place in the home.
That’s right. The kitchen has more poop than the bathroom.
The National Sanitation Foundation ran a study of the germiest areas in the house. They looked at those household bacteria that are most common, and most likely to get you sick: staph, yeast, mold, salmonella, E. coli, and fecal matter.
Here Are the Top 10 Places In the Home That Were Found to Have the Most Bacteria:
- Dish sponge/rag
- Kitchen sink
- Toothbrush holder
- Pet bowl
- Coffee reservoir
- Bathroom faucet handle
- Pet toy
- Counter top
- Stove knobs
- Cutting board
So, how can you protect your home and your family from these hidden germ-menaces?
How Are Germs Spread?
Germs are spread in three ways: person to person, person to surface, and surface to person. However, there are three major factors that affect the spread of bacteria.
The surface type highly influences the way germs are spread. Bacteria and mold prefer warm, moist environments, like dish sponges and coffee reservoirs. Smooth, cold surfaces have fewer germs. This means that keys, money, keyboards, and game controllers aren’t as dirty as we think they are!
Of course, living habits and lifestyle practices also play a role in the spread of bacteria. For example, preparing food on a cutting board and then neglecting to wash it properly can result in leftover bacteria that can then be spread to other surfaces. Germs can also remain in the moist wood of the cutting board and then breed more bacteria.
Cleaning procedures are the number one way to fight against these bacteria. Germs happen. It’s a part of life. But using proper cleaning methods and techniques can keep your family healthy and safe from these potentially harmful microbes.
Let's Take a Cleaning Tour Through the House
More than 75% of dish sponges and rags tested in the study had salmonella, E. coli, and fecal matter. (Only 9% of bathroom faucet handles did!) Those clean dishes aren’t really all that clean.
The sink, the stove knobs, the counter tops, and cutting boards all make it on the top 10 list of dirtiest places as well. The insides of refrigerators are close after that. It’s scary to find the places we trust to cook, eat, and live can be so easily filled with harmful bacteria.
But there are simple ways to keep these areas clean and your family healthy.
- Use disinfectant wipes during every cleanup session. If you’ve just prepared food or eaten dinner, take a few seconds at the end to swipe a wipe over the area. You’ll immediately disinfect the surface from any potential bacteria.
- Heat damp sponges in the microwave for a few seconds. This will kill the bacteria and lengthen the life of your sponge. You can also soak sponges in a quart of warm water with half a teaspoon of concentrated bleach for those heavy-duty cleaning moments.
- Change your dishtowels several times a week, and use a bleach-based laundry detergent to keep them clean. (We’ll talk more about laundry below.)
- Always wash your hands before and after touching food.
- Change or clean the coffee filter daily. Clean out the water container, the spigot, and the base weekly.
The Laundry Room
Your laundry room is another place where cleaning doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should.
Laundry left in the washing machine, even for a short period of time, can cause germs to thrive (due to the moist, wet environment). Transfer clothes to the dryer immediately to prevent any growth. If you forget and leave your clothes in awhile, it’s recommended to run a second cycle.
Clean the washer drum with a disinfectant wipe, especially if you share the washing machine with others. Similarly, wipe down surfaces before folding clothes—especially in a communal Laundromat or apartment laundry room.
The dryer is another warm environment where germs like to hang out. This is especially true in many types of lint filters that don’t properly process out bad bacteria. Make sure that your lint filter is cleaned consistently and is environmentally friendly, with the purpose of detoxifying the air while also drying your clothes.
The bathroom, while not as dirty as the kitchen, still needs some TLC. Moisture from a hot shower can especially breed bacteria. When cleaning, pay extra attention to shower tubs, drains, faucets, the floor around the toilet, bath towels, and toothbrushes and toothbrush holders.
You may want to use Steripods to keep your toothbrush away from any floating germs, and clean your toothbrush holder with a disinfectant wipe weekly.
You should be disinfecting weekly and deep-cleaning your bathroom monthly. Don’t forget the showerhead and the bottom of the toilet. Although you don’t touch these areas, they can produce germs that can be spread through contact and float throughout the bathroom.
Another surprise? Your makeup and toiletries bag is practically a house for germs! Germs live on makeup applicators, which can cause skin and eye irritations and infections. You should keep these products in a clean, dry space at room temperature, and wash your brushes weekly. Replace your cosmetics every 6 months, and throw out any makeup that has caused a reaction.
Office and Living Room
The office and living rooms can get germy simply because they’re shared spaces. Yeast and mold are most found on keyboard and controllers, which are used often and cleaned rarely. Don’t forget to swipe over these areas with a disinfectant wipe, or leave out Purell to remind your family to stay sanitary.
Your carpets are the dirtiest parts of these rooms. They can hold 8 times their weight in dirt and dust! Make sure you vacuum weekly and use vacuums that are eco-friendly. Many vacuums release dirt back up into the air, which can create even more health hazards for your family. Be sure to change your vacuum bags and filters often to keep your vacuums free of bacteria growth.
We love our pets, but they can bring in the most amount of gunk from the outside. They track mud, dirt, bacteria, bugs, and more into the house. Their bowls also tend to be breeding grounds for bacteria, which can harm you and your pet.
Always wash your pet’s paws before they come inside. Invest in a good mop with scrubbing mop pads that will make your job of cleaning the floors easier and less of a backache. This will let you feel less anxious when your muddy dog runs through the kitchen.
Wash pet bowls every night with warm, soapy water. Every week, soak these bowls in a light bleach mixture. Clean their hard toys weekly with disinfectant wipes and their soft toys monthly in the washing machine.
Keep your house fresh and your family healthy with simple cleaning techniques, procedures, and products.
HomeRev is committed to eco-friendly, clean-air products that promote clean practices that overcome these dirty home spaces!