Nowadays, we are more obsessed with dangerous germs than ever before. Yes, they are everywhere, but the main incubators of bacteria are in your home.
“What could be dirtier than your toilet seat? Your kitchen,” says Dr. Reginald Nguyen, a primary care physician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Sugar Land.
Here are the 10 dirtiest things you can touch in your home, and how to reduce germs before you even step out the door.
- A dish sponge or rag
Why: Soil plus moisture equals bad news.
How to manage: To get rid of mold, mildew and E. coli bacteria, change your cotton regularly or soak it in diluted bleach for five minutes. “That’s enough to kill most bacteria,” says Dr. Nguyen. Use a paper towel to dry, not a cloth.
How often: Change your cotton at least once every two weeks, unless you’re soaking it in bleach frequently.
- Kitchen sink
Why: It’s the second largest breeding ground for Escherichia coli, Salmonella and other microbes that cause gastrointestinal illness. Here you will rinse fruits and utensils, cook raw meat, and destroy eggshells and other bacterial factories.
How to handle: Wash and dry the sink before and after use. “Moisture breeds microbes,” says Dr. Nguyen.
How much: Every hour.
- Toothbrush holder
Why: “Troublesome microbes are congregating,” says Dr. Nguyen. “We usually brush our teeth twice a day, and when we rinse the brush, we put a drop on it. We have a lot of bacteria in our mouths, between our gums and the roots of our teeth.” Toothbrush holders have the third highest amount of mold and mildew per square centimeter.
How to handle: Wash the brush holder thoroughly, then wash it in the dishwasher. “The heat and pressure of the dishwasher kills bacteria,” says Dr. Nguyen.