As the cold and flu season approaches, we all know how important it is to wash our hands frequently, especially in public places in order to avoid picking up germs that can cause us to get sick. However a shocking 65% of colds are actually contracted by household germs. And up to 80% of food born sicknesses are also caught in your home.
While infections can happen anywhere, here is a list of the most contaminated surfaces and objects in your home:
Germ Hot Spot: The Kitchen Sink
The kitchen sink is one of the worst breeding grounds for household germs. Food particles from plates left to soak or rinsed from dishes on their way to the dishwasher can serve as a breeding ground for illness-causing bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella. They can get on your hands or spread to foods. Most people rinse their sinks only with water and assume they are clean. To sanitize your sink and prevent the spread of bacteria, wash it with a solution of bleach and water once a day.
Germ Hot Spot: Your Toothbrush
You put it in your mouth twice a day, but do you ever think of all the germs lurking on it? You rinse it off after using it and put it away damp which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. In order to keep your toothbrush as clean as possible, place it where it can air out and dry between uses — but not too close to the toilet. Also, replace your toothbrush often, particularly after you’ve been sick.
Germ Hot Spot: Carpet
The majority of houses have a massive amount of floor space in the home covered in these germ ridden materials. Although most of the households do vacuum regularly, the carpets are rarely disinfected and are filled with household germs. Try to vacuum at least 2-3 times a week and have your carpets cleaned regularly with a toxin free solution.
Germ Hot Spot: Computer Keyboard
Most homes have multiple people using the keyboard. Even if there is more than one computer in the household, it is unlikely that only one person uses it. And even if that is the case, it is even more unlikely that the keyboard is regularly cleaned. In a recent study researchers swabbed keyboards for germs and found a host of potentially harmful bacteria, including E. coli and staph. Four of 33 sampled keyboards had enough germs to be considered health hazards. One had levels of germs five times higher than that found on a toilet seat. Be sure to wash your hands before and after using your computer and regularly wipe the keys with alcohol or bleach wipes, but nothing too wet.
Germ Hot Spot: Kitchen Sponges/Dish Rags:
One of the dirtiest items in the house are the sponges used in the kitchen. Sponges and dishrags are exposed to all of the germs and bacteria from the animal products. They are also conducive to breeding germs because of their porous composition and the fact that they are usually wet. Sponges should be regularly disinfected every week and replaced at least once a month.
Germ Hot Spot: Your Bathtub
The place where you clean yourself is not so clean itself. A recent study found staphylococcus bacteria in 26% of the tubs tested. A separate study had even worse findings for whirlpool tubs. When Texas A&M University tested 43 water samples from whirlpools, they found that all 43 had mild to dangerous bacterial growth. Almost all showed bacteria from fecal matter; 81% had fungi, and 34% contained staph bacteria. Experts recommend cleaning and disinfecting your tub with bathroom cleaner after bathing, then dry with a clean towel. For whirlpool tubs, the best way to prevent bacteria from accumulating is to clean out the pipes.
Dirty Places: Your TV Remote Control
It’s dropped on the floor, stuffed between the sofa cushions, coughed on and sneezed at. Everyone in the house handles it and it is one of the most germ infested items in the house. The best way to keep the germs away is just to wipe it with an alcohol wipe and wash your hands after handling it.
How to Protect Yourself from Germs
The CDC recommends regular hand washing with soap and water, washing your hands for 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer gels can also be used to kill germs, but they should not replace hand washing.