Here’s a story for you. There was a local landmark in Seattle called the Pike Place gum wall. The wall consisted of over a million wads of gum, and was considered the “germiest place on Earth.” People had been sticking gum on the 54-foot wide wall for over 20 years. The wall was eventually steam-cleaned in 2015.
Okay, so unless your mischievous children are sticking wads of gum on a bedroom wall, your home doesn’t hold the dubious title of the “germiest place on Earth.” Still, your house is a germy environment, with dirt and bacteria hiding in the most unlikely places.
Get ready to wash your hands. Here’s the dirt on the dirtiest places in your home that you’re not cleaning.
You might think your plates and glasses are clean, but the item used to clean those plates and glasses is easily the germiest thing in the kitchen, if not the entire house. With its numerous nooks and crannies, the kitchen sponge is a breeding ground for illness-causing bacteria. In fact, it’s not uncommon for sponges to test positive for Salmonella or E. coli. This is why the FDA banned sponges from all commercial kitchens. Just think – every time you swipe a sponge across a countertop or pot or pan, you could be spreading hazardous bacteria.
The best way to clean a kitchen sponge is to rinse it in hot water, ring it out, and then sterilize the still partially wet sponge by putting it in the microwave for two minutes. It’s important to note that antibacterial sponges are not effective in preventing Salmonella or E. coli.
Germs are everywhere in your home, but the kitchen is a petri dish of germ activity. Yes, there are thousands of unseen microbes in the kitchen. While chances are you know how important it is to disinfect the countertops and hand-wash the cutting boards after use, it’s easy to overlook stove knobs. According to NSF International, when scientists swabbed 30 surfaces in 22 homes, 14 percent of the stove knobs harbored coliform bacteria and 27 percent contained mold and yeast.
Remove the knobs from the stove once a week and clean them in hot, soapy water.
Is it possible that a TV remote or computer keyboard harbors as much dangerous bacteria as a kitchen sponge? Well, just think how many people in the family have their hands on the TV remote, not to mention the fact that they’re eating and snacking while flipping through the channels or typing on the keyboard. According to Kelly Reynolds, an environmental biologist at the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health, a single electronic device contains thousands of bacteria, many of which are the same varieties found on kitchen sponges.
Every week, swab the household electronics –remotes, keyboards, mouse, tablet covers, video game controllers –with a disinfecting wipe.
There’s a strange smell coming from the laundry basket. Somewhere in that mound of clothes is your sweaty workout gear, as well as the dirty bedding… not to mention the towels you used to give your pet a bath. So if the laundry basket smells that bad, just imagine what’s growing inside. Dirty clothes can harbor an assortment of germs, making the laundry basket a dustbin for bacteria.
If you have a hard, plastic laundry basket or hamper, clean it with disinfectant. A better solution, however, is to use a laundry bag instead of a plastic basket or hamper. Wash the dirty bag when you wash the clothes, and then transfer the clean clothes in the clean bag.
Living Room Carpet
It’s estimated that there are 200,000 bacteria per square inch in your carpet, from E. coli and Norovirus to MRSA. Everything that collects in the carpet fibers – skin cells, food crumbs, pollen, dirt, pet dander –makes what’s lurking below your feet a hotbed for dangerous germs.
According to Men’s Health, the carpet is 4,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat. Every time you run on the carpet, wrestle with the dog, or jump around playing video game, chances are you’re stirring up all the little critters and bringing them closer to the surface.
Vacuum at least three times a week. Use baking powder and soil retardants on the surface to get a deeper, more thorough clean. Have your carpets steam-cleaned by a professional twice a year.
You bring your reusable plastic water bottle with you everywhere – work, the gym, running Saturday morning errands. It’s good that you’re staying hydrated, not to mention doing your part to protect the environment by recycling your water bottle, but how often are you giving it a good cleaning? It’s easy for coliform bacteria to settle in the cracks of a plastic water bottle, and the longer it’s recycled and reused, the more cracks and wear and tear it’s going to have.
Instead of using and reusing a plastic water bottle, invest in a glass water bottle with a silicone sleeve. There are fewer cracks and crevasses for bacteria to hide. Wash it regularly in hot, soapy water.
You make coffee every morning. Do you ever wonder what’s lurking in the machine’s dark, wet internal piping and water reservoir? Coffee makers get hot, but not hot enough to kill bacteria. And the machine’s dark, inner-workings can harness bacteria and mold. The best part of waking up might be coffee in your cup, but the worst part is a cup of joe filled with yeast, mold and coliform.
Run a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar through the coffee machine twice a month. After that, run two cycles of fresh water through the machine to get rid of the vinegar smell.
Here’s something that’s certain to give you bad dreams at night. According to a 2011 study by The London Times, pillows are breeding grounds for infectious germs, including superbugs. In other words, while a fresh, clean pillowcase may look nice, it’s just covering up something foul and germy. And it gets worse – the study also revealed that after using a pillow for two years, one third of its weight is made up of dead dust mites, dust mite feces, bacteria, and dead skin. And you wonder why you toss and turn.
Read the instructions on your pillows and determine whether or not they can be washed. Most new pillows are washable. Consider getting anti-allergen pillow covers. They better protect pillows from outside germs. The best thing that you can do, however, is replace your pillows every few months.
So there it is… the dirt on the germiest places in your home that you’re not cleaning. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and shoo those dust bunnies out the door.