22 Germiest Things You’ll Find in Your Home
Keep the germs at bay, and your home safe, by routinely disinfecting these dirtiest places in your home.
Germs, germs, germs
No matter how hard you're trying to keep your home clean, germs can still find a way to sneak in. While some of the dirtiest places in your home, like the toilet seat, are easy to guess, others can be things you haven't been cleaning diligently enough. If you're wondering what items and places deserve special attention during your next cleaning spree, here are the 22 germiest things you will find in your home. Make sure you check out the 15 best-reviewed cleaning products on Amazon before you start cleaning.
When you leave dirty dishes in the sink, you're creating a perfect petri dish for bacteria, which breed in damp, warm places. Even when you're careful about rinsing dishes and loading them immediately into the dishwasher, food particles are left behind in the sink, aiding and abetting the formation of illness-causing bacteria which could include E. coli, campylobacter, and salmonella. Clean and sanitize your sink every other day by scrubbing off deposits, then filling it up with water and adding a little bleach for a five-minute soak. Here's the best way to clean a kitchen sink.
Door handles get touched by everyone coming and going in the home, making them the Grand Central Station of bacteria. Even though door handles seem dry and innocuous, they can still support live bacteria for up to 24 hours. You can disinfect door handles with antibacterial wipes, but an easier way to reduce contagion is to use handles made from copper or its alloys, bronze, and brass. They're naturally antimicrobial and can kill pathogens quickly, often within two hours. Don't miss these other everyday items that are actually dirtier than a toilet seat.
You know that slimy surface on your dog's water and food bowls? That's called biofilm, which is a quasi-scientific term for "germy coating." In addition to colonies of innocuous germs, biofilm can harbor dangerous organisms such as E. coli, listeria, salmonella and legionella. Experts recommend not using plastic bowls, which have tiny nooks and crannies where bacteria can thrive. Instead, use stainless steel or ceramic. Biofilm is tough to remove, especially if it's been accumulating. First, break up the coating by scrubbing the bowl with salt on a dampened paper towel. (Use a utility or bathroom sink, if possible—not your kitchen sink.) To disinfect, clean the bowl with a solution of one tablespoon bleach in one gallon of water. Or just run the bowl through the sanitizing cycle of your dishwasher. Then be sure to clean the bowls every day. Find out more about how your pet's bowl could be making you sick.
This should surprise no one. Your toilet bowl teems with germs—about 3.2 million bacteria per square inch. And when you flush, the turbulence spews tiny particles of water-borne feces into the air in a noxious blast called an aerosol plume, which can rise as high as 15 feet. Modern low-flow toilets have reduced this effect somewhat, but to keep your bathroom cleaner, just close the lid on your toilet before you flush. Soft-close toilet seats can be closed with only a nudge, which means less handling. Here are toilet problems you should never ignore.
It gets handled daily, but does your remote control ever get cleaned? Probably not, if you're like most people. Like other objects frequently touched by human hands, TV remotes are crawling with germs and viruses. To clean your remote, remove the batteries, then wipe it down with a moist (but not drippy) antibacterial wipe. Use an alcohol-dipped cotton swab to clean the edges of the buttons. Find out more about just why TV remotes are that dirty.
Most people never think about their coffee maker until they need caffeine. But this continual neglect makes a coffee maker one of the dirtiest places in a home. The dark, damp recesses of its reservoir are a perfect breeding ground for germs. So every month, run your coffeepot and filter basket through the dishwasher for a sanitary cleaning. Then put four cups of vinegar in the reservoir and run a brew cycle without a filter. When finished, flush the coffee maker with four cycles of clean water. Watch out for these ways you might be using your coffee machine wrong.
When was the last time you disinfected your handbag? Never? That's what makes a purse one of the dirtiest places in your home. A handbag gets set down everywhere, including on public restroom floors, and is rarely cleaned. Shockingly, the levels of bacteria found on a purse rival that in a toilet. In fact, one in five handbags harbors enough bacteria to be considered a health risk, with handles being the dirtiest part. So, empty your purse periodically and clean the inside and handle with an antibacterial wipe. Also clean lipstick, sunglasses, keys and everything else that's typically kept inside.
You're not wiping kitchen counters with an old sponge, are you? A kitchen sponge is one of the dirtiest places in your home. Just one square inch can contain 54 billion bacteria cells—about the same density of germs found in feces. Yuck! Running it through a dishwasher doesn't help much. The best way to decontaminate a sponge is to microwave it at full power for two minutes, which will kill 99 percent of germs and spores. Eventually, everybody's microwave gets a little crusty. Here's how often you should be replacing your kitchen sponge.
Did you know bacteria and viruses—including the norovirus, which causes stomach flu—can survive on carpeting for a month or more? That's nasty enough, but carpeting also collects dead skin, dust mites, mold spores and other allergens. To keep contaminants at bay, vacuum at least weekly, and get your carpets professionally cleaned every six months or annually. Here are some more things in your house that could be making you sick.