7 of The Germiest Places in Your Home – And What to Do About Them

You may already approach public toilets or street food vendors with caution, but harmful bacteria can be much closer to home. Hotspots throughout your home can act as unintentional breeding grounds for dangerous pathogens.

Read on to discover some of the most high-risk areas and how to keep germs out of your home for good.

1. Kitchen Sponges

An NSF International study found that kitchen sponges topped the list of the dirtiest places in your home. The warm, wet conditions in an ordinary kitchen sponge create a haven for harmful microorganisms to multiply. To make matters worse, these pathogens get spread throughout your kitchen as you wipe counters, sinks and cutting boards with your sponge. Kitchen sponges are a serious enough health threat that the FDA banned their use in commercial kitchens.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

If youíd like to keep your kitchen sponge, check out these ways to keep your sponge clean. But, overall, the best way to prevent sponge contamination is to stop using them. Dish cloths or rags make good replacements because they dry faster, which makes them less likely to grow bacteria. Hang them out flat after each use and let them dry thoroughly before using again. Have a few cloths in rotation so you always have a dry cloth handy.

2. Kitchen Sink

Your kitchen sink can breed germs almost as well as your kitchen sponge. Itís where you wash harmful bacteria and other pathogens off your fresh food, but they donít all go down the drain. Some collect and multiply in your sinkís damp and inviting environment. One study found coliform bacteria in almost half of the kitchen sinks they sampled. Coliform bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli, are bacteria that originate in feces.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

Wash your sink thoroughly at least twice a week. Scrub it with a brush to get off any encrusted bacteria first, then spray your sink, taps, faucet and brush with a disinfectant. Let the disinfectant sit for at least 10 minutes before rinsing off.

3. Coffee Makers

The reservoir in your coffee maker is another surprizing source of bacteria. Its moist and dark conditions make it ideal for germs. Yeast and mold have been found in 50 percent of household coffee maker reservoirs. Also, coliform bacteria are present in about one in ten coffee makers.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

Follow the cleaning instructions on your coffee maker, which typically recommend to add equal parts white vinegar and water to your reservoir, let it sit for half an hour, then brew the solution. Do this about every month to keep mold and bacteria to a minimum. The carafe, lid and filter basket should be cleaned daily.

4. Kitchen Countertops

Your kitchen countertops are exposed to a host of nasty germs carried on the bottoms of grocery bags, purses, backpacks, electronics and even pets. This is also where you prepare the majority of your food, so itís vital to avoid any cross-contamination.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

Keep non-food items off your kitchen counter and disinfect it after preparing any fresh food. Follow the manufacturerís recommendations on how to clean your countertop properly, depending on the type of material itís made from.

5. Toothbrushes and Toothbrush Holders

Toothbrushes pick up bacteria from your mouth and provide a safe, damp environment for them to multiply. If thatís not icky enough, they can also pick up airborne germs that are released when you flush your toilet. A 2012 study found that the bacterium Clostridium difficile can be sprayed 25 centimeters (nearly 10 inches) above the toilet if you flush without closing the lid.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

Make sure your toothbrush and holder are in a well-ventilated area so they can dry out as quickly as possible. Itís recommended to run your toothbrush and holder through the dishwasher once a week, as well as get a new toothbrush at least every three months. And, of course, always close the lid before flushing your toilet.

6. Washing Machine

You may not think of your laundry as a potential source of bacteria, but research has found that the average personís underwear contains about a tenth of a gram of fecal matter. Another disturbing fact is that germs are not killed in a washing machine. If one item of clothing contains bacteria, viruses or other contaminants, these will spread to 90 percent of the other clothing during the wash cycle. Washing in hot water wonít really help either, as most germs can survive in hot water.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

The only way to get your clothes hot enough to kill bacteria and other pathogens is to put them in a dryer for at least half an hour on high heat. You can also dry them in the sun because ultraviolet light will destroy bacteria. Wipe the inside and outside of your washing machine with a disinfectant after each use, especially if anyone in your household is sick. And run your empty washing machine with water and bleach, or other disinfectant, at least once a month.

7. Reusable Shopping Bags

A University of Arizona study found that 97 percent of people surveyed never washed their reusable bags. And this is a problem. The study also randomly tested 84 reusable bags collected from shoppers in Tucson, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Over half the bags contained many strains of harmful bacteria, including coliform bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli. Researchers pointed out that these bacteria are especially dangerous for young children, as their immune systems are still developing.

Cleaning and Safety Tips

Designate certain bags to use only for fresh food, then label separate bags for fresh produce, raw meat and other fresh foods. Wash these bags after every use, dry them in your dryer and never use them for packaged foods or purposes such as carrying books or clothing.

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106 comments

Peggy B
Peggy B14 days ago

TYFS

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Renata B
Renata B15 days ago

Too much cleaning makes us so vulnerable and weak.

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Chad Anderson
Chad Andersonabout a month ago

Thank you.

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Hannah K
Hannah K1 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Maria P
Maria P2 months ago

tyfs

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Gino C
Gino C2 months ago

Thanks very much

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Vincent T
Vincent T2 months ago

good to know

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Biz M
Past Member 2 months ago

Noted many thanks.

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Holly Windle
Holly Windle2 months ago

How afraid of these germs should we be? The danger should be pretty high to advocate, for instance, the use of running a washing machine an extra time each month with just bleach (how much?) and water.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara2 months ago

Clean the dust off frequently with a damp sponge.

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