WebMD recently published the top 10 hideouts for germs in your home – and some of them may surprise you.
1. Kitchen Sponges – A kitchen sponge can carry over 134,000 bacteria per square inch! Most people tend to keep sponges for too long, allowing the bacteria to grow over time.
Simply washing a sponge doesn’t destroy all the bacteria. The best way to sterilize a sponge is to wet it and then place it in the microwave for a minute or two. The heat from the microwave is sure to fry all living microorganisms. (Note: If you try this, be sure to wet the sponge first, and let it cool down before removing it.)
2. Kitchen Sink – Kitchen drains have more than 500,000 bacteria per square inch. You should never contaminate food by placing it in the sink. Regular soap doesn’t kill the bacteria, but you can bleach and water will do the job. The FDA suggests one teaspoon of bleach in a quart of water; let it sit for 10 minutes.
3. Faucet Handles – Kitchen faucet handles carry 13,000 bacteria per square inch, while bathroom faucet handles carry 6,000 bacteria per square inch. Use disinfectant cleaner sprays on the handles to kill the germs.
You can also place an Airfree air sterilizer in your kitchen to prevent the spread of germs.
4. Home Offices – Home offices harbor more germs than the typical work office. People tend to eat more in a home office, which turns the desk into a bacteria cafeteria. If you work from home, use a disinfectant spray at least once a week in your work area – and try to keep your food on a dining table.
5. Toilet Bowl – Okay, so this one is no surprise. (But most people are surprised to learn that the kitchen is much dirtier than the bathroom; there are about 200 times more fecal bacteria on a kitchen cutting board that on a toilet seat). To rid your toilet bowl of germs, use the aforementioned bleach and water solution.
6. Bathtubs – Bathtub drains contain nearly 120,000 bacteria per square inch. (Makes you think twice about taking a long, hot bath, huh?) To keep the bugs at bay, clean your drains with bleach and water at least once a week.
7. Shower Curtains – That “soap scum” on your shower curtain is really bacteria. Regularly clean and replace shower curtains to avoid an overgrowth.
8. Wet Laundry – Shouldn’t wet laundry be clean? Not always. Washers can house and readily transfer bacteria and viruses. Use bleach and increase drying times to minimize germs. It also helps to separate adult clothes from child clothes.
9. Vacuum Cleaner – Most vacuums become “meals on wheels” for germs. Try to vacuum the dirtiest areas of your home last to avoid spreading germs. Also, if you have a bagless vacuum, be sure to wash your hands after emptying the dust bin.
Two relatively new vacuums include features to deal with the germ problem. Halo vacuums use a built-in UV light to destroy bacteria, viruses, and other germs.
The Bissell Healthy Home vacuum contains Microban anti-microbial protection to prevent the growth of germs in the vacuum.
10. Beds – You spend about a third of your life in your bed, and if you’re not careful, you’ll share that time with millions of hidden germs.
Beds supply food for germs and dust mites. Dr. Philip Tierno of NYU puts it bluntly: “In the mattress core there are all sorts of human secretions and excretions – fecal matter as well as sweat and semen.”
To keep your bed clean and allergy-free, wash all bedding in hot water at least once a week, and place dust mite covers on your pillows and mattresses.