You Missed a Spot - The Dirtiest Places in Your Home

Author:Denise Perreault

People aren't the only inhabitants that turn a house into their home. It is also a perfect habitat for millions of potentially harmful microbes, such as bacteria and viruses. What may look like clean and innocuous household items are in fact optimal places for germs to grow. While bathroom toilets are commonly known for being great places for microbes to flourish, there are other places that people fail to properly sanitize. Because these areas are frequently overlooked, they often surpass toilet seats as the most germ-ridden spots in the house.

Refrigerator: The area under and behind the refrigerator is one of the most neglected spots in the home because it is also one of the hardest to reach and therefore clean. This also means that it is a fertile breeding ground for germs. The refrigerator door is also a haven for harmful microbes because of bits of food that accumulate there.

Computer Keyboard: Computer keyboards are a surprisingly friendly place for germs. They harbor between five and four hundred times as many microbes as are found on toilet seats. Some of the more hazardous germs that reside on keyboards include Enterococcus faecium and Staphylococcus aureus (staph), which can also prove resistant to drugs. They can also be vectors for spreading viruses that cause stomach flu.

Shopping Bags: Reusable bags that carry groceries are potential habitats for germs due to the fact that people load them with packaged food such as meat. When meat products are packed with vegetables, cross-contamination can also occur.

Computer Mouse: A University of Arizona study on workspace and computer filth found that computer mice are host to 40 times more germs than a toilet seat. This enables them to transfer diseases such as the cold or flu from one person to another. Like keyboards, the larger the number of people who use the device, the more germs it can accumulate.

Remote Control: The average remote control accumulates a prodigious population of germs due to the fact that it is typically handled by numerous people and often falls to the floor. Remote controls are frequently coughed and sneezed on when people are ill and may be touched by unwashed hands. This makes the remote control one of the dirtiest objects in the home, harboring germs like the rhinovirus, which is the cause of the common cold.

Washing Machine: Because washing machines constantly receive dirty clothes, they automatically become incubating chambers for any incoming germs. Even after washing a load of clothes, they can harbor up to 100 million bacteria, including Escherichia coli, also known as E. coli. When washed clothing is not immediately run through the dryer, bacteria that survived the washing process will flourish; in addition, mold will also develop, which is why washed clothes will acquire a musty smell if not dried right away.

Telephone: All phones, including cell phones, can be a surprising source of hazardous microbes. Cell phones in particular generate heat and are typically tucked away near the body or held in one's hand, where they are kept warm. This enables the growth of any germs that may have gotten onto the device. Up to 50 million bacteria can be found living on a single phone.

Vegetable Storage Area: The vegetable compartment in the refrigerator is a major potential home for harmful bacteria. This is because unwashed vegetables are often mixed with prepared vegetables. Additionally, many vegetable compartments are situated at the bottom of the refrigerator, providing an opportunity for contaminants such as blood from raw meat to drip down into the vegetable storage area.

Kitchen Sink: Bacteria from vegetables and raw meats are largely responsible for making kitchen sinks more germ-prone than even public bathrooms. Key microbes found in kitchens include E. coli, which can cause diarrhea, pneumonia, respiratory illness, and urinary tract infections.

Kitchen Counter: Due to being adjacent to kitchen sinks, kitchen counters are also problematic areas when it comes to germs. Coliform bacteria such as E. coli were found on 32 percent of kitchen counter tops, according to an NSF International study. Kitchen handles are another place where germs can thrive, including staph and some forms of molds.

Stove Knob: The knobs on stoves have a great deal of contact with food and hands that handle raw food, which makes them breeding grounds for not only molds but also salmonella and E. coli.

Toothbrush: Toothbrushes are instruments that are regularly damp, regardless of whether they are being used. This makes them a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Furthermore, since most toothbrush holders are located near toilets, they can be contaminated by droplets of toilet water and other particles every time it is flushed. Even enclosed toothbrush holders are friendly to bacteria, as the bristles of moist toothbrushes are unable to completely air dry.

Coffee Makers: An unexpected source of harmful germs is the coffee machine. They have reservoirs that are dark on the inside and full of moisture. This is an ideal environment for molds, yeasts, and even coliform and staph bacteria to grow.

Bathtubs: Shower stalls and bathtubs are loaded with bacteria and viruses, primarily because they stay moist and warm for long periods of time and also because people use them to wash off and get clean. The germs that flow off of a person's body during bathing or showering are then deposited in the bathtub, which is why a square inch of a bathtub's surface can harbor more than 100,000 bacteria, including potentially deadly staph.

The Floor: Outside of vacuuming, people may not think of cleaning their carpets regularly. When people come indoors, their shoes bring in microbes that they picked up outside. This potentially includes E. coli bacteria and other harmful germs that are transferred onto rugs and carpets.

Additional Resources