Top 10 Germ Hotspots In Your Own House
Germs are no laughing matter. You think that you’re living a healthy lifestyle but the truth is that the planet is getting really dangerous for everybody. What used to be stuff of science fiction now translates into SARS, the West Nile Virus, Bird Flu and many other drug resistant virus and bacteria. We have to protect ourselves from these scary bugs. The common belief is that we need to expose ourselves to the outside world to encounter these bugs but the more accurate truth is that they are actually just around us; on our counter tops, our sinks, our telephones, and even on our faucet handles!
A huge percentage (about 80%) of infectious diseases are spread through direct hand contact and so, it goes without saying that our first line of defense would be to wash our hands very often. Other than this, it also helps to know where these dangerous bugs like to stay and multiply. Here are ten areas in our houses that may be germ hotspots as well as tips on how to get rid of these critters:
Germ Hotspot # 1 – The Sponge or Cloth Used to Clean The Dishes
The figures show that there are 250,000 bacteria per square inch of these sponges and washcloths. The sad thing is that we use these implements to clean the counter and our dishes! Raw food, the cutting board and the countertop are where the germs in these implements come from; these rags are also damp which makes them a perfect breeding place for germs.
What to do: Sponges and dishrags have to be sanitized after each use by throwing them in the washing machine with hot water and with some bleach, drying them, microwaving them in a bowl with water, or running them through a dishwasher’s drying cycle. Instead of using these rags again and again, try using paper towels for minimal clean-ups.
Germ Hotspot #2 – The Sink
Bathrooms are dirty, but sinks can be dirtier. Bacteria want to rendezvous in the drain where food gets trapped. From the drain, the germs crawl up to inhabit the faucet handles and the basin.
What to do: Always clean the sink after preparing food that may contain dangerous organisms like salmonella, campylobacter, and E. coli. Use an antibacterial product. One tablespoon of chlorine mixed with a quart of water can be used to deep clean your sink, faucet and basin twice a week. Pour the solution down the drain.
Germ Hotspot #3 – Wet Laundry
There are E. Coli in laundry – what an irony! Wet laundry can harbor E. Coli or salmonella. A single contaminated item of clothing can spread the bacteria to the entire batch. We all know how dangerous these bacteria are; a pile of ‘clean clothes’ can get you serious gastro-intestinal illness.
What to do: High temperatures can kill bacteria; make sure that you use warm water or set high temperatures when using your dryer (about 150 degrees will do). Don’t waste time in transferring wet laundry to the dryer so that germs don’t get the chance to multiply. Be sure to separate your underwear when laundering, use bleach on white stuff, and complete a full cycle on your machine with only bleach and water between washes. Wash your hands when you are done with the laundry. If you are shopping for a new washer, choose one with top-loading because the rubber gaskets in front loaders are little germ universes. New models can also inject silver ions into your laundry which are really good bacteria assassins.
Germ Hotspot #4 – Your Tub
There are many ironies when it comes to cleanliness – the place where you get yourself clean – your tub – is also a place that is amazingly dirty. This area can harbor dangerous bacteria like staphylococcus that cause serious skin infections. There are more tubs with these bacteria than garbage cans; tubs have about 100,000 bacteria per square inch.
What to do: Use a disinfecting cleaner on the tubs surface and scrub it once a week. Spray-on products don’t usually do the job because they don’t stay on. Scrubbing is required to get them off your tub, flush them down with water, and dry your tub with a clean towel. Clear all the soap scum because these can be good breeding places for bacteria; the same goes for bath toys with holes that can allow mold and bacteria to grow. Scrub the tub with diluted bleach whenever someone with an intestinal infection uses it.
Germ Hotspot #5 – Floors (especially in your Bathroom and Kitchen)
Everything that ends up on the floor, like food splatters and spills all become bacteria havens – about 800 of them per square inch. The area around the toilet bowl is particularly dirty because when you flush, water splatters out of the bowl carrying with it whatever it is that you were flushing. Some toilet bowls can have 3.2 million germs per square inch.
What to do: Make wiping a habit – if you have spills and splatters, wipe them off immediately so that you don’t give bacteria any time to multiply. Make floor cleaning a weekly chore; use disinfectants and sanitizer; otherwise your product won’t get rid of the bacteria. Guys – lower the lids before flushing – to keep the water from spewing out of the bowl.
Germ Hotspot #6 – The Garbage Can in The Kitchen
Garbage cans have about 500 germs per square inch, not really that alarming, but still something to concern ourselves with.
What to do: Line your garbage cans with plastic so that the germs don’t go on the bin itself. Try buying a metal garbage can that opens when you step on a switch; with this you won’t have to hold the lid, plus low levels of ions are on metal cans, especially stainless steel cans – these can kill germs. Odor means bacteria are breeding – clean your stinky bin with a dilute solution of bleach and water.
Germ Hotspot #7 – Toys
Kids carry a lot of germs, no matter how we want to believe otherwise, and everything they touch becomes germ-filled, and what else do they touch more often – toys. The entire house can get really germy if toys are not cleaned properly.
What to do: Opt for toys that can be washed (washable toys) and just throw out stuff that can’t be cleaned. The dishwasher can be used to clean plastic toys, just keep the heat high. For those toys that can’t be popped into a dishwasher, a spritz of Clorox Anywhere will do the job; leave it to dry. Cloth toys can be popped into the washing machine or their surfaces can be washed off with soap and water. Make sure to set your dryer on high when you dry these things. Wash toys at least once a week. Teach the kids to wash their hands as often as possible.
Germ Hotspot #8 – Your Phone
That item you use to call for assistance in medical emergencies is an emergency in itself – it has more than 300 bacteria per square inch. The same applies for the computer keyboard and the TV remote. These items get germs from frequent holding and from spatters from our mouths.
What to do: A disinfecting wipe or a sanitizing wipe swiped on the phone once a day can get them real clean. The same remedy can be used on keyboards and remote controls. For the more tech-savvy consumers, there are antimicrobial phones, keyboards, mouses, and mouse pads in the market. These nifty items are coated with nano silver or silver ion – bacteria killers.
Germ Hotspot #9 – Surfaces that you touch often (like the ref door handle, light switches, and microwave buttons)
You actually leave some of the germs on your hands on the stuff that you touch. Germ contaminants can stay on these surfaces for a day or more and still infect other people.
What to do: Frequent hand washing can help a lot especially after going to the bathroom, preparing food, sneezing, coughing, and shaking hands. Disinfecting wipes can also clean up these surfaces pretty well.
Germ Hotspot #10 – Your Cutting Board
There are more bacteria on cutting boards than on toilet seat, 200 times more, in fact! There are salmonella and E. coli on your chopping board because raw food carries lots of bacteria. Plastic cutting boards may be easier to clean and sanitize, but wooden ones also contain natural oils that can kill bacteria. Grooves on your boards can harbor bacteria, so when you have the grooves, throw the board out.
What to do: Invest in different cutting boards for veggies, bread and meat. Glass and plastic which are not very absorbent are the best for meats because juices don’t seep into the material. Plastic boards can be cleaned in the dishwasher and wood boards need to be drenched with bleach solution and allowed to stay for three to five minutes before rinsing and allowing these to air dry.