You may consider the bathroom to be the germiest area in your home. However, while bathrooms are easily recognized as places heavily populated by germs, there are many other areas of the home that go overlooked. Many of the most frequently used items in your home may be havens for bacteria and viruses, yet manage to escape regular cleaning or sanitizing. Check out this list of items in your home that may be even filthier than your toilet seat.
That carpeting that looks so clean may be a repository for all sorts of dirt, debris, and germs. The fibers in carpeting can trap dust, dead skin cells, and pet dander. They receive the effects of spilled food, muddy paws, and sticky toddler fingers. When water is spilled, damp carpeting can aid the growth of bacteria tracked in on shoes. While vacuuming removes dust and dirt from the top layers of carpeting, your vacuum isn’t able to reach the lower layers of the carpet or provide any sanitizing effects. Invest in a professional carpet cleaning service once a year to give your carpets a deep cleaning.
14. Coffeepot Water Reservoirs
While your coffeepot may get a daily scrubbing, the reservoir containing water is easy to overlook. This moist environment can be a breeding ground for germs. Allow the interior of your reservoir to dry out each day by leaving the lid open. Mr. Coffee recommends cleaning your coffee maker once a month with vinegar and water. First, pour vinegar into the water reservoir and run the coffee pot as normal to circulate the vinegar through the machine. Then, repeat this process twice using fresh water each time to fully flush the vinegar out of the system.
13. Computer Keyboards
Computer keyboards see a lot of action. The keys on your computer can harbor the oils from your skin, bacteria picked by your fingers, and traces of the crumbs from your lunch. One study by CBT Nuggets found that computer keyboards harbored as many as 20,000 more bacteria than toilet seats. To keep your keyboard free from germs, avoid eating while typing. To clean the keyboard, power off your computer, then use pressurized air to blow dust and dirt from beneath and between the keys. Next, gently wipe off the keys with a cotton swab moistened with isopropyl alcohol. Finally, use a dry, lint-free cloth to polish the keys.
12. Elevator Buttons
Elevator buttons may be swarming with germs from the many hands that touch them each day. To keep germs from accompanying you off the elevator, use a tissue to press the button. Other high-touch areas where germs may lurk include grocery cart handles, escalator railings, and door handles.
11. Gas Station Pump Handles
When using the gas pump, your mind is probably more preoccupied with watching the escalating price on the pump screen than with germs. But gas pump handles may be teeming with bacteria. Given the relationship between stopping for gas and visiting the restroom on car trips, this makes sense. You may want to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your car for use after stopping to fill up the tank.Related: 15 Secrets to Keeping Your House Cleaner Happy
10. Interiors of Washing Machines
The very machines used to wash your clothing may be harboring the coliform bacteria that causes sickness and diarrhea. Washing machine temperatures may not be hot enough to kill the bacteria from fecal matter that clings to dirty underwear. These bacteria can remain in the washing machine and contaminate future loads. Wash your hands after transferring wet clothing from the washer to the dryer. The high temperatures of the dryer should kill any bacteria that remain on the clothing. Tumble dry your laundry for at least 30 minutes. To disinfect your washer, run an empty cycle with bleach, or add bleach when washing whites.Related: Here’s Why You Should Clean Your Washing Machine Regularly
9. Kitchen Dishrags
Kitchen dishrags and sponges are some of the dirtiest items in any home. Bacteria thrive in moist environments. Kitchen rags are not only wet, but also come in constant contact with food particles and possible food-borne pathogens. Be sure to wash dishcloths regularly in hot water and tumble dry. Kitchen sponges can be sanitized in your dishwasher but should be replaced every two weeks.
8. Pet Food Bowls
You wouldn’t want to use the same unwashed bowl for every meal, and neither should your pet. Leftover food and pet saliva can make prime conditions for bacterial growth. Wash your pet’s bowl after each meal with hot, soapy water to prevent germs from multiplying.
7. Purses or Handbags
Purses, handbags, backpacks, and reusable grocery bags are all items that harbor more germs than you may realize. They go everywhere with you. Your handbag may perch atop your shopping cart in the morning and hang from a public bathroom stall hook in the afternoon. Then it may sit on the sticky floor of the football stadium in the evening. Be sure to toss cloth bags into the washer and dryer for cleaning now and then. Leather or plastic bags can be wiped down with disinfectant wipes.
6. Refrigerator Drawers
The refrigerator drawers, condiment bins, and meat compartments are all spots where germs can be lurking. Be sure to remove the drawers, wash them with hot soapy water, and thoroughly dry to prevent bacteria from taking up residence. Bacteria in your refrigerator can be transferred to your food. Scrub any food spills or sticky spots on refrigerator shelves with soapy water. Then wipe down those shelves with a mixture of water and white vinegar to disinfect. Dry thoroughly with a towel.
5. Sink Faucets
The sink faucet handles are the first things you touch after using the restroom, blowing your nose, or chopping raw meat. Therefore, it is no surprise that they can harbor more germs than even your toilet seat. Don’t neglect to disinfect your faucets regularly. Keep a supply of antibacterial cleaning wipes under your bathroom and kitchen sinks and wipe down these areas each day to keep them free from germs.Related: 12 Helpful Habits to Easily Keep Your Home Clean and Clutter-Free
The very phone you handle daily, hold to your mouth, and use to entertain your child probably contains more bacteria than your toilet seat. To thoroughly clean your smartphone, first shut it down. Then, use compressed air to blow dirt and debris from the charging port and any crevices. Use a toothpick to remove visible particles from any cracks and from the speakers, being careful not to puncture any delicate parts. Clean extra dust and debris from the screen with a lint-free cloth. Next, sanitize your phone with a cotton swab moistened with a solution of isopropyl alcohol and water, and dry it thoroughly with a cloth.
3. Toothbrush Holders
Those cute little holders on your bathroom counter may be holding more than just your toothbrush. Don’t forget to give toothbrush holders a thorough cleaning while you are wiping down the sink and countertops. If it’s been a while, you may need to soak the holders in hot soapy water first to loosen up hardened toothpaste. Then, use a brush or cloth to thoroughly scrub the holders with warm, soapy water. Allow them to dry out before replacing your toothbrush.
2. TV Remote Controls
Your television remote control is another hot spot for germs. Be sure to wipe down your remote with an antibacterial wipe when you are doing the household cleaning. Alternatively, you can clean your remote with a clean cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Use a toothpick to remove any dirt or food particles from the buttons.
1. Wooden Cutting Boards
Cutting boards, used to cut raw meat and poultry, can carry pathogens transferred by these foods. Wooden cutting boards cannot withstand the high temperatures of your dishwasher without warping and cracking. After cutting meat or veggies, be sure to wash your cutting board and scrub off food particles with hot, soapy water. Next, disinfect your cutting board by dipping a clean cloth in white vinegar and wiping down the board. Once your cutting board has been disinfected, be sure to dry it with a clean towel thoroughly.Related: 9 Items You Should Never Clean with Baking Soda