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Battle the Top 10 Germ Hot Spots

5. BATHTUB
I’m sorry to tell you this, but many garbage cans are cleaner than bathtubs, which can ring in at about 100,000 bacteria per square inch.

Solution
Use an anti-bacterial soft scrub (see formula below) once a week, paying special attention to soap scum and bath rings which can be a great breeding ground for germs.
Also use the soft scrub and a toothbrush for the drain and faucet/handle areas.
In addition, spray with straight white distilled vinegar weekly, which kills bacteria as well as mold.

6. FLOORS
The kitchen gets food spills, the bathroom gets toilet bowls splashes–bacteria heaven. Most of us aren’t touching or eating off the floor that often, but are kids might be!

Solution
Wipe us spills immediately to deter bacteria from multiplying.
Close the toilet seat before flushing to avoid spray.
Clean your kitchen and bathroom floors a hot-water, hard clean weekly, depending on what type of flooring you have (use the soft scrub below for tile). For more tips, read Easy Greening: Natural Floor Cleaning.
Spray around the toilet with straight white vinegar.

7. KITCHEN GARBAGE
Not surprisingly, the kitchen garbage can is a germ magnet–food waste and a dark, moist environment makes bacteria so very happy.

Solution
Use a trashcan with a pedal opener to avoid having to touch the can regularly.
Use a stainless steel trash can–ions in stainless steel actually kill germs!
Take out the trash regularly.
Odor equals bacteria. Clean your bin once a week with the soft scrub formula below, and follow with a vinegar rinse.

8. TOYS
Oh, kids and germs–they go together like peas and carrots. And once you factor in the germs from all the friends and classmates, that are transported into your home, sick-city.

Solution: Of course there’s always the old weekly bleach-dunk, but not for me, or anyone else concerned about our kids inhaling bleach fumes.
Opt for toys that are easy to clean.
Some toys can be put through the dishwasher.
Try a vinegar dunk.
Cloth toys can be washed in the washing machine.
Teach kids the importance of washing their hands.

9. PHONE
Hello germs? Hello dirty little phone. Both home phones and mobile phones are ideal places for germs to thrive. Between our hands and our mouth, the top germ transmitters, the phone is tremendously germy. In addition, when was the last time you cleaned your phone?

Solution: Wipe down weekly with very hot water, and wipe with a vinegar saturated paper towel.

10. CUTTING BOARD
Again, gross. According to the ABC report, there are 200 times more fecal bacteria on a cutting board than a toilet seat. Seriously. If you think about it, the toilet seat itself doesn’t have direct contact with a lot of bacteria, while the cutting board hosts a lot of raw food which is often loaded with bacteria.

Solution: Plastic cutting boards may be easier to clean and sanitize, but wooden ones also contain natural oils that can kill bacteria.
Grooves on your boards can harbor bacteria, so when you have the grooves, throw the board out.
Invest in different cutting boards for produce, bread and meat.
Glass and plastic which are not very absorbent are the best for meats because juices don’t seep into the material.
If they fit and the manufacturer states the material is safe, run your cutting boards through the dishwasher.
Or, hand wash them with Annie’s method: 3 percent hydrogen peroxide alternated with straight white vinegar. Let each material rest on the cutting board for 10 minutes or so before rinsing.

DIY Antibacterial Soft Scrub (Inspired by Annie’s Homemade Soft Scrubber)

1/2 cup baking soda
Tea tree, lavender, or peppermint Castille soap (see note)
5 drops antibacterial essential oil such as peppermint, tea tree oil, oregano, lemon, thyme, or eucalyptus

Pour the baking soda in a bowl and slowly stir in enough liquid soap until you have a thick paste, add essential oil. Use as you would a commercial soft scrub.

Note: Only use liquid soap if you have soft water. If you have hard water, use liquid dish detergent.

Related:
How to Make a Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit
23 Ingenious Uses for White Vinegar
51 Fantastic Uses for Baking Soda

Read more: General Health, Green Kitchen Tips, Home, Non-Toxic Cleaning, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Healthy & Green Living

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

54 comments

+ add your own
10:22AM PDT on Aug 4, 2012

For me there is only one way to clean and completely sanitize every surface in my home. If you are curious check out www.sargentsteam.com It's the answer to nasty chemicals, bacteria, dust mites, mold, mildew and the list goes on and on. Go to www.sargentsteam.com and get ready to change your life. I did.

4:14PM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

Overuse of antibacterial soap leads to drug resistant bacteria. Use it sparingly.

4:44AM PST on Nov 6, 2011

Thanks for sharing these great tips but let's use some common sense. I remember myself, playing in the garden with our dog (not a house dog) and my kids did the same. Nothing happened to us. Of course fewer people...fewer germs back then. There are germs and bacteria everywhere so lets use our common sense and clean accordingly.

12:23PM PDT on Nov 4, 2011

Gross!!!!!! Ewwwww!!!!!!! Just plain NASTY! Good thing I already put tea tree oil in my laundry, and use lavender based natural soap. I just like the way it smells! :-)

12:10PM PDT on Nov 4, 2011

Thank you for that information.
I'll be trying out a number of your suggestions - I bought a new bottle of vinegar recently (5 litres) so I reckon I can get started!

4:27AM PDT on Sep 3, 2011

thanks

7:50AM PDT on May 15, 2011

Thanks alot.

12:04AM PDT on May 15, 2011

thanks

7:31PM PDT on Oct 10, 2010

thanks for the info

9:34PM PDT on Oct 4, 2010

Well, now I am too disgusted to do my laundry!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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