If you’re here because you just Googled something like, “What are the germiest spots in my house” or “how many germs are in my house and are they going to kill me” then you are not here for small talk, my friend. Let’s get right down to it.
NSF International, a public health organization, did an extensive study on houses and their hot spots for bacteria, mold, and yeast. They were particularly interested in determining levels of things like E. Coli (because feces!) and Staph, which you most likely know can make you very, very ill.
Based on their findings, here are 7 of the germiest places or things in your house in no particular order because they’re all equally ick in one way or another.
Dish sponge or cloth
Zero surprises here, friends. We recently talked about cleaning your disgusting dish sponges. They are the number one item on NSF’s list. Your sponges or clothes are always wet and often spend time in warm, dirty water. It’s a bacteria paradise in there. If you listen closely, you can probably hear their little cheers. Don’t get too close, though.
Over 75% of kitchens tested had a sponge full of Salmonella or E. Coli. That’s pretty scary for any item in your house, but let’s remember we use this to clean our eating utensils.
How do you keep it clean? Read this because this is an item that needs a whole post.
Just like how dish sponges need to be clean because they literally clean our forks, toothbrushes and their holders should probably not be disgusting since their job is to scrub the inside of our mouths.
Not only did household toothbrush holders test positive for Staph, they also contained disturbing amounts of mold and yeast which can really mess with your immune system, especially if you have allergies, which many of us do.
How do you keep your toothbrush holder clean? Clean it regularly.
It needs to be a part of your cleaning routine and you should clean it at least weekly. Soak your toothbrush and holder in water and peroxide to loosen up any gunk. Then use a small brush or a pipe cleaner to scrub them inside and out. After this, you can soak the newly cleaned brush and holder in antibacterial mouthwash or vinegar for a simpler solution.
Pet food bowls
I know you’ve probably heard that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than our mouths and as much as we all want that to be true so we can have all the puppy kisses ever, it just isn’t. Even if the natural state of a dog’s mouth was inherently cleaner than a human’s, I’ve seen what my dogs do with their mouths on a regular basis and that’s all I need to think of to remind me to clean out their food and water bowls. And let’s not pretend cats are any cleaner, regardless of what they would say about it.
If you don’t want to run yours through the dishwasher, wash with soap and hot water and then soak in vinegar and water. Rinse well before giving them back to the kids.
We just keep coming back here. Not only is the sink and especially the drain a perfect moist (sorry) and warm spot for breeding bacteria, it’s kind of grand central station for a lot of gross things. We wash our hands here, scrape food particles, rinse raw meat, and so much more in this one small area so it’s no wonder it is basically made of germs.
It’s really, really easy to keep clean, though. The hardest part is keeping up with the dishes. Once you have an empty sink, scrub with a mix like baking soda and peroxide (perfect for white porcelain sinks!). Let the same mixter sit in your drains until clear. Rinse the sink really well and then fill it up with very hot water and vinegar. Let it soak. Every time you finish with the sink, whether to wash your hands or do dishes, take a moment and dry it off from top to bottom with a dish towel. This will allow less bacteria to build up on a regular basis.
For a garbage disposal that smells really clean and fresh, use lemon juice and ice!
Pet toys can get really gross and we often allow them to be a lot dingier than other things in our house. I mean, they go in our gross dogs’ and cats’ mouths so of course they’re dirty, right? But your dog probably carries them around, flings them all over the carpet and maybe even shares them with your kid from time to time. Your cat definitely chewed on a dead bird before it grabbed its stuffed mouse.
Once a week or so, throw the soft toys in the laundry. Since dogs are people too, we don’t recommend using harsh detergents. You can simply run them through a hot water cycle and then drop in some baking soda and vinegar right before the rinse. The best way to dry them is allow them to soak up some UV rays outdoors but it’s ok to use the dryer too.
Simply soak the non-fabric toys in a vinegar and water bath and let them dry completely.
Knobs, faucets, light switches (see also: everything you touch, ever)
This is an obvious one. We touch these things all day every day and often without even thinking about whether our hands were clean before or not. If you have kids in the house, just assume they were definitely not clean.
Don’t forget about oven and stove buttons and knobs. We touch those with barely a thought after touching all sorts of food items. No one wants to reach for the dial and feel crust. No one.
The good news is, they take seconds to clean. Just get in the routine of going through your house with vinegar and water and wipe everything down every day. Especially during cold and flu season, you’ll want to give special attention to these areas and keep them as disinfected as possible.
Et tu, Coffee maker? Is nothing sacred?
The good news is that it’s fairly easy to keep your coffee maker clean. The bad news? It’s really, really disgusting if you don’t.
You should probably read this long after your morning cup and long before your next one.
CBS News did an investigative report on this and took samples from one-cup coffee makers in 10 households. The microbiologist that ran the samples “He found bacteria including gram-positive strains like staphylococcus, streptococcus and bacillus cereus. He also discovered enteric bacteria, or bacteria of the intestines, like e-coli.”
You can read the article here but my “favorite” quote has to be this.
“I think the high amounts of fecal material or the enteric organisms I would probably be concerned about,” Golash said.”
In conclusion, yes there are some very germy areas you might have been neglecting in your home but it’s easy to take care of them.
I’m not sure if I should say “you’re welcome” or “sorry” after this post!
But really, we’re here to help when you need us.