The 11 Dirtiest Places in Your Home

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  • Germy Places in the Home

    Germy Places in the Home

    Warning: After you read this, you will probably want to wash your hands (see slide #10 for the proper way to do so). To learn where germs like to hang out, Healthline picked the brains of a couple of experts to get the dirt on the dirtiest places in your home. What we found was a mix of “duh” (kitchen sink) and “wow” (just-washed laundry).

    Click through the slideshow to learn more germy places in the home.

  • Facts About Germs

    Facts About Germs

    • Germs are in your home right now. In optimal conditions, certain bacteria can divide every 20 minutes, spreading rapidly where they dwell (Society for General Microbiology, 2013).
    • Germs can make you sick. Your immune system protects against most microorganisms. However, there are tons of different kinds of germs, and some of them, especially viruses, are good at mutating into things your body doesn't recognize.
    • It’s easy to keep things clean. Soap and water. Bleach and water. Disinfecting wipes. Common sense. With these simple weapons, the battle against germs can be won.
  • The Kitchen

    The Kitchen

    Dish towels and sponges are especially problematic, because they hold moisture and we tend to use them for multiple tasks. The kitchen sink is a no-brainer and gets a lot of attention, but the faucet hardware gets just as dirty after you handle raw food or dirty dishes and then turn the water on and off. Other areas include the refrigerator door handle and cabinet knobs (AARP, 2011).

  • Knobs, Handles, and Switches

    Knobs, Handles, and Switches

    This one seems obvious, but how often do you walk around your home and wipe off doorknobs, cabinet handles, and light switches? Once a week, give them a once-over using disinfecting wipes—and don't use the same wipe for more than a few places before grabbing a fresh one.

  • Makeup Bag

    Makeup Bag

    Makeup applicators have nooks, crannies, and bristles that are prime real estate for microorganisms. And the germs that live there can lead to skin and eye infections. Regular soap and water is fine for cleaning most applicators, but you can use alcohol on the brushes. 

  • Dirty Laundry

    Dirty Laundry

    Wet laundry left unattended in a machine, even for a short amount of time, is like the Fertile Crescent for germs. Transfer clean clothes to the dryer immediately after they are done washing. If they do sit for more than 30 minutes, run them through the cycle again.

    If you use a laundry mat or a shared laundry facility, clean the washer drum with a disinfecting wipe. And be sure to disinfect any surfaces you use to fold clothes.

  • Clean Laundry

    Clean Laundry

    Wet laundry left unattended in a machine, even for a short amount of time, is likeThe Fertile Crescent for germs. Transfer clean clothes to the dryer immediately after they are done washing. If they do sit for more than 30 minutes, run them through the cycle again.

    If you use a laundry mat or a shared laundry facility, clean the washer drum with a disinfecting wipe. And be sure to disinfect any surfaces you use to fold clothes.

  • Home Office & Electronics

    Home Office & Electronics

    On average, an office desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat (BBC, 2004). It's not surprising; the toilet is cleaned regularly. And remote controls, computer keyboards, phones, and iPods get touched way more than the toilet. They are also shared by multiple family members and guests, yet they are cleaned less often. You can find component-specific cleaning supplies at electronics stores. However, most disinfecting wipes are safe for electronics—just make sure to read the label before using them. 

  • Bathroom

    Bathroom

    The toilet, bathtub/shower, and sink are all obvious offenders. Thus, they are on most people's regular cleaning rotation. Use an old toothbrush to clean around drains and faucets. Pay special attention to the floor area around the toilet and the little cup that holds your toothbrush. Note: Don’t forget to clean the flush handle on the toilet.

  • You

    You

    Bathtubs, computers, kitchen sinks, and doorknobs don't leave and return to your home multiple times each day. So how do these hordes of germs get into your home? You bring them in. The key: Wash your hands properly. Experts advise that friction (especially between the fingers) and duration are both important (CDC, 2013). Wash for 20 to 30 seconds, or the amount of time it takes to sing "The Alphabet Song" or a couple of rounds of "Row Your Boat.”

  • Use Common Sense

    Use Common Sense

    Now that you are sufficiently freaked out, you should know that there is such a thing as "too clean." In other words, don't start hosing off guests when they walk through your door, and don't obsessively clean your kitchen all day, every day. Killing all the germs prevents our bodies from building up resistance.

  • More Information

    More Information

    To learn the best way to keep things clean, view our full article to get expert advice on how to disinfect these areas of your home. You might also be interested in the following:

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