There are several areas in your home that can be hidden sources of bacteria, germs, skin cells, fungus, and more. Here are some tips about problem spots and how to make your home more hygienic.
Kitchen Sink & Sponge
Even though you would expect the bathroom to attract the most germs in a house, it’s actually the kitchen sink! Both the sink itself and the dishwashing sponge are magnets for mold and foodborne pathogens. Two common forms of bacteria found in these areas are salmonella and campylobacter, both often found in undercooked foods and can cause health issues like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. These forms of bacteria can fester when washing dishes that once bore uncooked meat.
When it comes to your dishwashing sponge, there are a few ways to prevent bacteria and mold buildup. One way is to place your dishwashing sponge in the dishwasher at a high temperature with the drying cycle on. A second cleaning method is to wet the sponge and place it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. In addition, make sure you’re squeezing it out thoroughly after each use and leaving it in a clean area to air-dry. This will keep the bacteria buildup from the wet surface to a minimum. Finally, consider scrubbing the sink and draining it with bleach every few days to help avoid bacteria build-up as a way to make your home more hygienic.
Your bed, and especially your bedroom pillow, can be a breeding ground for dust, dust mites, dead skin, and bed bugs. Dust mites produce waste and lay eggs which can cause poor air quality for the bedroom. If you have a pet, they can carry pollen which will then get into the bed as well. With all of these factors combined, you can find yourself with allergies, itching, sneezing, and skin irritation.
To make your bedroom more hygienic, simply wash your pillowcases and bedding once per week in hot water above 130 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, make sure you vacuum uncovered mattresses regularly.
Toilet Handle & Toothbrushes
Since it typically gets cleaned less often than the toilet bowl & seat, the toilet handle is an area where bacteria such as rotavirus and enterococcus can thrive. Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea in young children, and enterococcus is a type of bacteria that can cause bacterial gastroenteritis. These forms of bacteria can be prevented by regularly cleaning the area using a cleaning agent that specifically lists the ability to fight bacteria and viruses on the label.
Another common area of germs in the bathroom is from toothbrushes. This is partly from the nature of mouth germs and not changing your toothbrush enough, but it can also come from storing your toothbrush too close to the toilet. When you flush the toilet, water can spray up to a six-foot distance from the toilet. Toilet water spraying onto an already wet toothbrush can cause bacteria to thrive, specifically fecal coliform bacteria which can cause diarrhea and other food poisoning symptoms. To assist with this, simply make sure to change your toothbrush every three months and store it at a safe distance from your toilet.
Unsurprisingly, another area that can be filled with invisible bacteria and germs is your unwashed laundry. Your laundry can be a hidden source of viruses, bacteria, E. Coli, staphylococcus, fecal bacteria, skin cells, and oils. And, the longer your laundry sits in the hamper, the more these invisible creatures can fester. Aside from underwear, the dirtiest piece of laundry is likely your towels since they often remain wet and can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Kitchen towels can be a source of E. Coli and bathroom towels can pick up fecal bacteria.
To help keep these hidden germs to a minimum, you have a few different options. Experts recommend washing clothes often with water that is at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the viruses and bacteria that could be living in them. But if you’re concerned about water conservation, you could also consider utilizing more powerful laundry detergent products such as Tide Power PODS Heavy Duty, which are designed to target invisible soils like sweat, skin cells, and bacteria without the need for hot water.
In addition, dry your clothes for at least 45 minutes and wash towels and kids’ clothes separately since they can have higher volumes of bacteria. Keep your washing machine hygienic by cleaning it out once per month with a cycle of chlorine bleach. Then run an empty cycle so that the bleach doesn’t ruin any of your clothes the next time you do a load of laundry.
Doorknobs are a high-touch area where staph or staphylococcus aureus can be carried. This bacteria is not typically a serious threat but if it enters the body through the eyes, mouth, cuts, or scrapes, it can cause skin problems and food poisoning symptoms. Similar to the toilet handle, you should clean doorknobs frequently with either a disinfectant or a 60% or more alcohol product in order to make your home more hygienic.
Your cutting board is also a potential source of E-Coli and salmonella since it’s used to cut raw meat. Make sure to clean these thoroughly using soap and hot water between uses in order to keep family members from developing food poisoning symptoms. In addition, to make your home hygienic, consider having a separate cutting board for meat and fruit/veggies.
According to scientists at the University of Arizona, your cell phone has roughly ten times more bacteria than a toilet seat. You bring your phone with you everywhere, set it on counters, drop it on the floor, and then bring all of those germs into your home. Even worse, you get a phone call and put all those germs directly on your face and mouth. You should sterilize your phone daily either using disinfectant wipes or by purchasing a UV phone sanitizing/charging station for your home.