No matter how intense your cleaning regimen, germs can show up where you least expect them. According to some stats, over 65% of colds are caught in the home, and common household items are often the culprits. Here are some of the most germ-ridden household items — some may surprise you — and ways to avoid them from becoming breeding grounds for bacteria.
1. Kitchen Sponges and Rags
The moisture trapped in sponges and rags makes it the perfect home for all kinds of bacteria. And, wiping your counters or dishes with dirty sponges only spreads the bacteria around. What you can do: Replace kitchen sponges often, machine wash rags and then dry on high heat, disinfect sponges by putting them in the dishwasher or put a dry sponge in the microwave for 30 seconds and a wet sponge for one minute.
2. Cell Phones
A new study published in the journal of Microbiology found that if you put a virus on a touchscreen surface, about 30% of it will jump to the fingertips of anyone who touches it. You could contract more germs from sharing iPhones than if someone sneezed directly in your face!
The Sacramento Bee reports this shocking piece of information from an unspecified British study: “Mobile phones harbor 18 times more bacteria than a flush handle in a typical men’s restroom.” Ick!
What you can do: wipe your phone daily with a disinfectant wipe.
3. Doorknobs and Handles
Think about how often people touch doorknobs and handles, like the refrigerator handle. Bacteria can spread if someone is sick, didn’t wash their hands after using the restroom, or handled raw meat. What you can do: Wash your hands often and make sure your family does the same, clean doorknobs and the refrigerator handle regularly using a clean cloth soaked in a solution of chlorine bleach and water.
Toothbrushes can become contaminated with bacteria, blood, saliva, and oral debris. What you can do: Make sure not to share toothbrushes, replace toothbrushes every 3 months or sooner if the bristles appear worn or damaged, store toothbrush in an upright position after rinsing it so that water will drain away from the bristles.
Keyboards are a common place where germs get transferred from person to person. Microbiologist Charles Gerba, in a study funded by Clorox Co., counted bacteria on different surfaces found in offices and homes. The study found that public toilet seats had an average of 49 germs per square inch. Germ counts on computer keyboards were over 60 times higher, averaging 3,295 bacteria per square inch! When you think about it, this number isn’t so shocking. Keyboards are rarely cleaned while toilet seats are regularly cleaned with strong disinfectants to kill germs. What you can do: Clean your keyboard daily with a disinfectant wipe.