Ten of the dirtiest places in your home

Tim Collins, Wikimedia Commons

WASHINGTON, February 10, 2014—There are certain places in your home that you expect to have germs—the toilet handle, the garbage lid. However, there are other dirty places and objects in your home and life that you may not have thought about—yet. Following is a list of a few really dirty places and objects in your home that you may have missed.

1.  The knobs on your stove: A study by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) found that stove handles have more germs than microwave and refrigerator handles because they are more difficult to clean. Additionally, individuals tend to touch stove knobs when their hands are contaminated with food or other germs. To clean, many knobs can be removed and placed in the dishwasher. Check your stove manual for cleaning instructions.

2.  Bath mat: Bathroom mats tend to collect a lot of germs, as germs thrive in dark, humid places. Moreover, few people hang up their bath mat to dry after using it. Mold spores can germinate after just 12 hours in the right conditions and grow within 24 to 48 hours. To prevent mold growth, hang your bath mat to dry after every use, wash at least once per week or purchase a fast-drying bath mat.

3.  Anything near your toilet: A 2012 study in the Journal of Hospital Infection found that when a toilet is flushed without a lid, water is sprayed up to 10 inches above the toilet and the area around it. This increases the risk of harmful bacteria spreading to areas around the toilet by 12 times when compared to a toilet flushed with the lid down. Always flush the toilet with the lid down and clean the inside of the bowl at least once every week.

4. Toothbrush holders: Another NSF study found that toothbrush holders were by far the dirtiest places in the typical bathroom by a surprisingly wide margin. According to Robert Donofrio, director of NSF International’s Applied Research Center, the typical toothbrush holder has over 3.3 million microorganisms per 1.55 square inches (10 square cm.). The second dirtiest object in the bathroom, the bathroom faucet, had less than one percent the amount of microorganisms, with around 28,000 per 1.55 square inch. Experts suggest purchasing a dishwasher-safe toothbrush holder and avoiding wood or bamboo holders.

5. Remote control: According to a 2004 study, office desks and household electronics, including remote controls and computer keyboards have 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. This is probably because these items get handled more often by more people and are cleaned less. It is important to wipe these items often. To clean between the buttons, use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.

6. Light switches: Light switches around the house are often neglected. However, they are touched frequently with contaminated hands. Light switches should be cleaned regularly.

7. Wet laundry: Wet laundry can attract mold in the same way that a bath mat can. If clothes are washed and not put in the dryer immediately, mold can quickly form in the warm, humid dampness of the washing machine. Healthline suggests running clothes through another wash cycle if left wet for more than 30 minutes. They also recommend cleaning the inside drum of the washing machine after washing bath mats or if you share a laundry facility.

8. Watch where you put your purse or backpack: The outside of a purse or backpack can bring outside germs and spread them throughout the house. Purses and backpacks are set on restaurant floors, taken into public restrooms, set on the train. They are then taken home and set on kitchen counters, tables and other furniture, spreading germs wherever they are placed. Do not place your purse of backpack on the floor, and clean the outside regularly.

9. Earbuds: Earbuds can carry several types of bacteria, including staphylococcus. Earbuds form a seal in the ear canal, where warmth, darkness and humidity create the perfect breeding-ground for bacteria. Clean earbuds regularly and never share them with anybody.

10.  Your cell phone: According to an article in LiveScience, a cell phone has an average of 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. As individuals become increasingly attached to their phones, they are used in bathrooms, while eating and after touching contaminated surfaces. Never take your phone into the bathroom and make sure you clean it daily.

Germs are everywhere and can spread quickly. Fortunately, proper cleaning of germ-prone surfaces and proper, frequent hand washing are effective in staying healthy and germ free.

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