Healthy Home: Places You Never Knew Were Breeding Disease


By Brooke Chaplan


Everyone knows the bathroom is home to some of the most germ-ridden spots in your house, but you might be surprised to discover what other places are a hotspot for disease. Not all of them are as predictable as you may think. According to NSF International, here are some of germs’ favorite places to collect.



Stove Knobs

You might wash your hands before you start preparing food, but you might not wash them regularly as you go. Stove knobs are subject to hands covered in unprepared food and food splatters, leaving them wide open to collecting germs. Take off the stove knobs once a week and wash them in hot, soapy water to keep them clean.



Kitchen Countertops

Everything is put on countertops in the kitchen. Meat, vegetables, fruits, wallets, purses, stacks of papers, toys, and everything else that needs a temporary home. For a place that’s supposed to be clean and ready for food preparation, kitchen counters collect a surprising amount of bacteria. Clean your countertops daily with hot water, and sanitize them with an appropriate, manufacturer-approved cleaner once a week to keep the bacteria levels down.



Kitchen Sponge

You’ve probably heard that sponges are a breeding house for bacteria, and it’s absolutely true. Sponges are the single most germ-infected item in your home. The NSF study found that 75% of sponges tested had coliform bacteria on them. It makes sense—we use sponges to clean up everything in both the kitchen and the bathroom, but they aren’t washed nearly as often as they should be. The moisture and grime incubates in the sponge between uses and becomes a perfect haven for germs.Wash your kitchen sponge daily; you can even run it through the dishwasher with a load of dirty dishes. Replace it approximately every two weeks.



Toothbrush Holder

You might keep your toothbrush as clean as possible, but when you put it back in the holder, water from the sink and your own saliva are going to drip off the end. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to keep clean—just run it through the dishwasher once a week.



Bathroom Floor

The dirtiest part of your bathroom isn’t the toilet seat like you might think. It’s the floor. An article on ABC in 2005 related a study in which the toilet seat was actually found to be the cleanest part of the bathroom. That doesn’t mean you don’t still need to clean your toilet, but make sure that you scrub the floor and bathtub just as often.




The bathtub is a breeding ground for bacteria, partially because dirty water tends to get trapped in the pipes. When you turn on the shower or bath, the germy water that’s been incubating in the pipes shoots out into the tub. If you think your pipes or plumbing are ready to be replaced, give Richmond plumbers like CampbellCare Plumbing, Heating & Air a call. Keeping your pipes up to date and disinfected will keep the germs to a minimum.



Office Desk

According to a study done by the BBC in 2004, an office desk has nearly 400 times more bacteria than a toilet. It’s not surprising if you think about it—bathrooms are cleaned regularly. How many times do you thoroughly clean your home office or work station? Your keyboard, telephone, and desk are touched constantly, food and drinks are spilled, and germs are free to incubate. Bring sanitizing wipes to work with you and wipe down your station regularly. Wash your hands often, and try to keep your space organized and free of food.



Keeping yourself clean is the best way to keep your home sanitary; the more often you wash your hands, the fewer germs travel between your hands and the surfaces in your home. No one can keep all the germs at bay, of course, but it’s always possible to keep the germ count below 1,000 bacteria per square inch (the threshold at which it is safe to eat off of, according to Gerba). Clean, sanitize, and keep an eye on those surprising trouble spots!



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