If you think of the most germ-laden environments you could encounter, you might imagine yourself somewhere like an airport bathroom . That's fair, because these – and all the other places that are regularly touched by people, like subway sticks and office doorknobs – can indeed be quite sprouting. At home, however, they can also be sparkling hot spots that you should probably clean more often.
As a brief disclaimer, before we dive into the most dirtiest parts of your home, not all germs are bad. Germs are everything about everything! They are basically your eternal buddies. The only ones you should really care about are those who have the potential to transmit disease, like … some bacteria and viruses that cling to the dirtiest things in your house. Here, two germ experts identify the objects that are dirtiest in most homes and give tips for cleaning.
Your kitchen sink
"The absolute coarsest place in the kitchen is the sink", says dr. Meghan May, Professor of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, told SELF.
As May explains, microorganisms found in contaminated foods such as raw meat and dairy products, such as B. Bacteria Salmonella the biggest problems in the kitchen. Listeria and E. Coli . Then there are viruses like norovirus that can also contaminate food and water. These may cause all foodborne illnesses that accompany them along with symptoms such as diarrhea nausea, abdominal pain, and fever, the Mayo Clinic states. You might think that it's weird that the kitchen sink is a potential germ cell for germs, since many things are being cleaned here, but that's why it's so dirty. Think of cutting boards covered with raw meat, whisk you've used on raw eggs, or even just the splash of your hands while you wash them explains May.
Outside parts of your sink The faucet handles can also be incredibly dirty, for example, when you touch raw meat and then turn the tap with your fingers.
. 2 The Environment of Your Toilet Bowl
Nobody will claim that the toilet bowl is a bacteria-free port, but do not concentrate so much on ignoring the surrounding areas as the Flusher.
If you flush a toilet, a fine mist of its contents (including bacteria and viruses) shoots up in the air. This is a phenomenon known as Toilet Flag . Experts are not sure how far they can spread, but in a study from 19659019 microorganisms were found in the air after flushing over two feet in the air] is probably not enough to get sick … but it's still pretty disgusting.
. 3 Their cleaning sponges and rags
In a study published in in 2017, 362 species of bacteria were initially detected in a sample of 14 different kitchen sponges. It's not like you're getting sick with your kitchen sponge, but it's not exactly appetizing. In general, EPA Environmental Protection Agency states that sponges are difficult to clean and make the growth of bacteria far too easy.
It's not a much better picture for reusable tea towels. "The washcloth is known to be a great source of various bacteria," says Sami Raut, a lecturer, assistant professor of biology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, to SELF. EPA has gone so far as to say that cotton rags and sponges should not be used for cleaning at all, as they only move germs. A reusable surface that stays wet for a long time and does not get disinfected in between, is simply a great home for all Grody Gremlins you expect.
. 4 All Children's Toys Are Lying Around
Most who have been hanging out with children know that they are germ plants . This means that everything they touch, like their toys, can be swarming with viruses and bacteria, says Raut.
Influenza viruses, which cause the flu, for example, can infect humans for up to 48 hours on surfaces – such as toys – by an infectious person according to CDC
5. Your Cell Phone
Raise your hand when you take your phone to the bathroom . Yes, you should not. Do you remember the thing with the whole toilet?
A study of 27 student cell phones from the year found that more than 17,000 bacterial copies per phone were found infections such as food poisoning .
If your phone carries potential pathogens with you and you carry it indoors, you may be spreading these bacteria or viruses around and possibly making it more likely to become ill.
. 6 Your Computer's Keyboard
Not far from your phone, your computer keyboard is another potential mire of bacterial and viral intruders, says Raut. For example, have you ever eaten on your computer? The germs on your hands (and the crumbs that are squirted into your keyboard) can lead to bacterial growth.
In a study from 2018, published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health researchers took samples of 25 samples of various keyboards, of which about 96 percent were contaminated with pathogens, such as E , Coli and Staphylococcus .
. 7 Door Knobs and Light Switches
Rule of thumb (in the truest sense of the word): Anything you – and other people in your home – can touch, can often be pretty dirty. And since they're pretty unremarkable, you can easily ignore them because they are noticeably dirtier items like kitchen worktops.
How do you clean all this stuff?
First, one should know that there is a difference between cleaning, disinfecting and disinfecting according to the CDC of 1945984:
During cleaning, germs, dirt and deposits are physically removed from a surface.
Disinfecting uses chemicals to kill germs, but dirty surfaces are not really cleaned.
Disinfection reduces the number of germs by either cleaning or disinfecting to meet certain public health standards (such as a hospital).
If you go home at home, you are mainly cleaning and disinfecting. Here are the best things to do just that:
Microfiber Towels : EPA recommends washing them daily, as a more hygienic alternative to cleaning items such as cotton cloths. According to the EPA .
Soap and Water are cloths that are labeled as ultrafine, high-quality microfibers, best. Not only do they remove visible dirt and other substances, soap cans also kill potential pathogens .
Conventional Cleaning Wipes and Sprays : These can be a great and effective way to clean and disinfect, says Raut. For example, you can wipe children's toys every few days . You may be confused as to how to choose between all available options. The EPA has a list of "Safer Choice" cleaning products that help you determine which are least harmful to human health.
Bleach : This is the most effective, easily available disinfectant, says May, adding that she uses it in her lab. After removing visible residue from areas such as the sink with a little soap and water, a diluted mixture of bleach and water can be an excellent disinfectant.
However, you must use bleach properly. It can easily stain your clothes and irritate the eyes and lungs. Therefore, CDC (19459107) recommends that people open their windows and use rubber gloves or even eye protection when cleaning with bleach. Also, you should never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners as this may produce a poisonous gas . Use only water to dilute the bleach cleansing solution. You can try a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 liter of water .
Vinegar : You may have heard that vinegar is a fantastic cleansing option. It seems promising. In a study published in 2014 by the American Society for Microbiology a 6% vinegar solution succeeded in killing tuberculosis bacteria after a 30-minute exposure. It is noteworthy, however, that in a recommendation for the cleaning of equipment for the health service, the CDC of 1945 claims that vinegar should not be used for disinfection because it is not effective against Staphylococcus although undiluted Vinegar seems effective against E. Coli and Salmonella . If you are wondering if soda can be used as a similar "natural" cleansing method, this deficient substance was not effective for any of them.
If you're looking for world-class disinfection, then you should look for something stronger than vinegar, such as bleach, says May. If you're really into vinegar, you should know that there are no firm guidelines on how much vinegar ( or what kind) you need to be able to disinfect at maximum capacity. To be effective against the largest variety of bacteria and viruses, May suggests using white or malt vinegar in a 50 percent solution or higher.
Hydrogen peroxide : This is a fantastic disinfectant May says, but the problem is that it becomes water when it is exposed to oxygen and loses its stroke . To use hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant, you must buy a new bottle each time you open it. Or, she says, you can mix borax and water, creating a by-product of hydrogen peroxide. A 5 percent solution of borax to water should work well, she explains. The best way to get there is the metric system: Mix five grams of borax powder per 100 milliliters of water, she says. (If you buy certain meters with these increments, it may be easier to mix them.)
One last thing to consider when disinfecting: Contact time.
You may want to leave all types of objects liquid solutions that are in contact with the surface for at least two minutes to get them to do their job. With something like towels, you can just move them over the surface and let them dry. After that, you can feel reassured because you have a wonderfully clean home. That's until your next sneeze.