When there are small kids in the house, a clean home is a must. Germs and bacteria hide in plain sight including where little hands can reach and touch. Most germs are not harmful, but there are those that can cause serious illnesses. Unfortunately, we can’t see these microscopic villains and some of the most unsuspecting spots in the home are actually the grimiest:
1. Kitchen sink Think your sink is clean because it’s always in contact with water and soap? Think again. “The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) found that areas where food is stored or prepared had more bacteria and fecal contamination than other places in the home,” says HealthLine. Your toilet may actually be cleaner than your sink!
In a study conducted by the NSF, coliform -- the family of bacteria that includes illness-causing Salmonella and E. coli -- was found in 75 percent of dish sponges and rags and 45 percent of kitchen sinks. So maybe you shouldn’t pop that piece of fruit in your mouth after you’ve dropped it in the sink. Keep it clean: According to Good Housekeeping Philippines, vinegar and lemon are great for cutting grease as well as disinfecting surfaces. Vinegar is great for getting rid of mold and mildew. No lemons? Calamansi will do the trick. Learn how to sanitize your sponge here. Regularly change dish towels.
Don’t neglect drain plugs and strainers, too. To maintain clog-free pipes, try this solution: Pour a mixture of 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup salt down the drain; then follow with vinegar. The mixture will bubble up. Let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes. Afterwards, pour down some hot water. Do this every few weeks. Aside from keeping your drains clear, it will also deodorize the area. 2. Toothbrush and toothbrush holder Your mouth is home to hundreds of different types of microorganisms, and a lot of them get transferred to your toothbrush. That’s not a problem, but “you rinse it off after using it and put it away damp,” Abruzzo told WebMD. “Bacteria like the moist area and grow on it.” It's not just your toothbrush either; NSF found the toothbrush holder as the third germiest place (out of thirty) in a home.
Keep it clean: “A moist environment such as a closed container is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms than the open air,” says the American Dental Association (AAD), so allow your toothbrush to air-dry instead. The AAD also recommends replacing toothbrushes every 3 to 4 months, not just to avoid bacteria build-up but also to maximize your toothbrush’s cleaning effectiveness. Frayed bristles don’t clean as well.
And, more importantly, “Children’s toothbrushes often need replacing more frequently than adult brushes,” says the AAD.
3. Pet bowl Pets can bring sunshine and warmth to a home, but they can also bring harmful bacteria. The same study mentioned above by the NSF found that pet bowls ranked fourth in a list of germiest items in the home (behind the dishwashing sponge, kitchen sink and toothbrush holder). Some of the households who participated in the study were even found to have E. coli on their pet bowls.
Keep it clean: Wash your pet’s bowl with soap and water everyday, making sure no food residue is left behind. You can opt to soak the bowl in a solution of bleach and water once a week. “Clean [your pet's] hard toys regularly with hot, soapy water, and wash soft toys monthly,” says Healthline.
4. Door knobs, light switches and handles “Anything people touch a lot has germs on it,” says Abruzzo. This includes door knobs, light switches, refrigerator and microwave handles, and even stove knobs. In fact, when it comes to germ count, stove knobs rank the highest among the examples given, according to NSF. Again, it’s a spot in the house found in the kitchen, just like the sink.
Keep it clean: You can clean these spots by wiping them down with bleach or alcohol once a week. In addition, the best protection from germs is still regular handwashing. Just imagine the bacteria on public door knobs and switches. You wouldn’t want to bring those into your home.
5. TV remote control Imagine you're sick in bed, clutching tightly to the remote control. Or perhaps, you've just come home and the first thing you do is flick on the TV using the remote control. WebMD cites a study from the University of Virginia that tested remote controls for cold viruses. Half of them tested positive. Again, the more often you touch something, the more germs it will have.
Keep it clean: Clean your remote control by wiping it with or alcohol.