You probably already know dangerous germs lurk around your toilet, but when it comes to the germiest places in your house, it doesn't even make it into the top ten! In fact, the bathroom isn't even the germiest room in the house. The kitchen grabs the top spot.
Potentially hazardous substances commonly found throughout the house include mold and yeast as well as coliform bacteria which includes E. coli and Salmonella and is an indicator of potential fecal contamination.
Microbiologists from the public health organization NSF examined 30 household items and ranked them in order of highest concentration of germs.
Top 10 Germiest Household Items:
1. Dish sponges/rags
2. Kitchen sinks
3. Toothbrush Holders
4. Pet Bowls
5. Coffee Makers
6. Faucet Handles
7. Pet Toys
8. Kitchen Countertops
9. Stove Knobs
What to Do About It
Debbie Sardone is a cleaning industry expert with the worldwide cleaning industry association ISSA and offers several tips to thwart germ contamination.
"We use sponges and rags to clean our dishes and don't realize we're transferring dangerous bacteria to our dishes, which can end up inside our bodies," she said.
"To avoid this, pop your wet sponges in the microwave for one minute," she said. Doing that as often as once a day will kill germs. Similarly, Sardone said, "Wash rags in the washing machine on hot water."
The reason sponges and rags are breeding grounds for bacteria is because they are dark and damp. So is the coffee maker.
"We think of the coffee maker as safe," Sardone said. "But it's the perfect environment to grow mold and bacteria."
Sardone recommends a simple and inexpensive way to clean it. "Pour a couple cups of white vinegar into the water reservoir and let it sit for 30 minutes then turn on the coffee maker," she said. "Then do the same thing with a couple pots of clean water to flush out the vinegar." She also recommends washing the coffee pot and lid on the top rack of the dishwasher.
When it comes to dark, damp areas, the sink drain is more of a problem than the surface of the sink. To kill germs in this hard-to-reach place, once a month, mix a teaspoon of bleach in a quart of water and pour it down the drain.
Cleaning for a Reason
Not only is Sardone passionate about clean homes, she also feels enormous compassion for women who are too sick to clean and can't afford to hire help.
That's why she founded Cleaning for a Reason, a free maid service for women undergoing cancer treatment.
"I started Cleaning for a Reason in 2006, and since then it's taken off nationwide," she said. "Now it's spread to 1,200 cleaning companies and we've helped 28,000 women clean their homes."
She said any woman going through cancer treatment can apply for free maid service by going to the Cleaning for a Reason website. Cleaning companies can also go to the site to learn how they can participate.
"Honestly, it's the most rewarding thing I do in business," Sardone said. "I consult with cleaning companies and they say their employees who clean the homes of cancer patients love it. They leave the home with hugs and tears and know they made a difference that day."