Whether it’s a sneezing stranger on the bus or sweat-covered kettle balls at the gym, germy situations are a dime a dozen. You may try to protect yourself with Purell when you’re out in the world, but what do you do about the germs inside of your home? If you don’t know what the germiest spots in your house are, you won’t be able to clean them! Here are five areas of your house that may not all be quite as dirty as your toilet seat, but can definitely use some extra attention.
Sponges are good at wiping down countertops, but they’re awesome at growing bacteria. Think about it: sponges are warm, damp surfaces that spend all day coming into contact with bits of food and dirt. That’s basically Disneyland if you’re coliform bacteria. In fact, a study of 30 different surfaces in 22 homes found that the kitchen sponge generally has more bacteria than toilet seats! The best way to keep your sponge germ-free is to microwave it for two minutes on high once or twice a week. For more sponge tips, read: Keep Sponges Clean.
See if this sounds familiar: You’re cooking a chicken breast for dinner. You put the raw chicken in the pan. Then you turn on the sink, wash your hands with soap and carry on with dinner duty. Seems fine, right? Wrong! Your faucet got slammed with some raw chicken goo when you turned it on, but it never got cleaned. Situations like this can turn your kitchen faucet into a legitimate bacteria factory. To prevent this, be sure to clean and disinfect your kitchen sink once a week, paying special attention to the faucet.
Your mouth is not a clean place. Not by a long shot. But there is a darker danger lurking near your toothbrush: the toilet. It may not seem possible, but the E. coli bacteria from your toilet can actually jump onto your toothbrush if they’re kept close together (seriously, Myth Busters did a whole thing on it). So, give your toothbrush and toilet a buffer zone. They don’t need to be friends. Also, be sure to always rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after use to remove any debris, and consider soaking it in antibacterial mouthwash overnight. Boiling it or running it through the dishwasher once a month is a good idea, too.
This isn’t super-pleasant to think about, but whenever you use a washcloth, hand towel or bath towel, skin cells slough off your body and stick to the fabric. These cells then become food for bacteria, which thrive in damp environments. If you reuse a dirty towel, the bacteria can be transferred back to your body. This can be really dangerous because those bacteria can lead to things like staph infections on your skin. To clean your towels, wash them in scalding hot water at least once a week.
Your remote can become really germy because it gets touched a lot and most people forget to clean it. Whenever you eat in front of the TV, you also spread a bunch of bacteria onto your remote and leave it there to fester between the plastic buttons. Unfortunately, a simple sanitizer wipe won’t clean your remote very well because you can’t get deep into the cracks. Once a month, go the extra mile and take your remote control apart and clean all of the individual parts, including the plastic buttons. That way, you can channel surf in safety.