I was recently reading a fascinating article about the bacteria that live and grow inside our showerheads. Surprised? I certainly was. I never would’ve guessed that the fixture responsible for getting me clean every day was actually housing a slew of less-than-sanitary germs. While the piece assured me that these bacteria were nothing to worry about, it got me thinking about the other places around my home where dirt and grime might be hiding. After doing a bit of research, I vowed to start cleaning the following spots on a regular basis:
In the Kitchen
When thinking about the dirtiest rooms in a house, the bathroom is often the first place that comes to mind. Of course, that means most people are probably doing a pretty good job of cleaning their bathrooms already. It’s much easier to overlook the kitchen, which contains some of your home’s germiest items.
Sponges: Think about the things you wipe up with your sponge, such as spilled food and the juices from raw meat and eggs. Afterward, you give it a quick rinse and put it back in its place, right? What most people don’t know is that a moist sponge makes an excellent petri dish! To get rid of any bacteria that might be growing on your sponge, make sure to put it in the microwave for one to two minutes after each use or at the end of each day. If that sounds like too much work, ditch the sponge altogether and start using machine washable rags!
Sink: This one really surprised me, especially since I’ve always made a point of wiping out my kitchen sink. As it turns out, all those dishes we leave soaking at the bottom of the sink (and all the food particles on them) are a bacteria magnet. To keep a clean sink, you’ll want to regularly wipe it down with a disinfectant like bleach or vinegar.
Drain Plug: You may have given your sink a good scrubbing, but did you remember to wash that little round plastic piece at the bottom of it? The drain plug often sits in a puddle of food scrap-infused water — the perfect breeding grounds for germs. Disinfect it every time you clean the sink!
Knobs and Handles: Every handle in your home is going to have some germs on it, but the ones in the kitchen are usually far dirtier than the rest. Just think of all the times you’ve touched raw meat right before closing the refrigerator door, opening a cupboard, or turning on the sink. Make a habit of sanitizing all the knobs and handles in your kitchen.
Refrigerator Shelves: Ever spill some liquid in your fridge only to shut the door and let in sit there for days on end? Those little bits of goo are easy to forget behind the milk or under the vegetables, but take the time to clean them up as soon you notice them. If you really want a spotless fridge, empty it out and give its shelves and drawers a thorough wipe-down.
In the Bathroom
Toothbrush Holder: This is another top-ranked bacteria hotspot. You probably wash your bathroom sink and toilet on a regular basis, but how often do you remember to wash the little cup that holds your toothbrush? The germs here come from the droplets that roll off of your toothbrush and the spray from your toilet, which can land on anything in a six-foot radius! Throw your toothbrush holder in the dishwasher or scrub it with disinfectant as often as you can remember. To keep your bathroom nice and fresh, close the toilet seat before flushing.
In the Dining Room
Salt and Pepper Shakers: Even when you have a cold, you still probably reach for the salt shaker to give your chicken soup some more flavor. Point being, those shakers tend to get touched a lot and pick up the germs and grime from everyone’s hands. Give them a good wipe-down, or pick up a pair of small shakers and run them through the dishwasher every time they run out.
In the Living Room
Remote Controls: How many times do you pick up the TV remote in a day? In most homes, everyone’s answer would be “several,” and hardly anyone thinks about washing their hands before sitting down to watch TV. Do yourself a favor and commit a little piece of your regular cleaning routine to your remote controls.
In the Office
Computer Keyboard and Mouse: If you’re like me, you’re on your computer a lot. If you’re even more like me, you’re usually eating a sandwich or munching on a snack at the same time. Food crumbs, dust, and hand germs can stay on keyboard keys and trackpads for weeks on end. Luckily, you can buy disinfecting wipes made specifically for electronic devices, or you can just use a cloth and a gentle disinfectant spray. Either way, your gadgets will be looking good as new!
Laundry Hamper: You put dirty clothes in the hamper, then dump them in the washer. But when does the hamper itself get washed? Plastic hampers can easily be wiped clean. If yours is made from a different material, follow the instructions printed on its tag.
Cell Phone: This device goes everywhere you go. It gets pressed against your face, held up to your mouth, and touched by your hands all day long. Give your phone a touch-up using some soft microfiber cleaning cloths and specialty spray, or make your own spray by mixing water and rubbing alcohol together. Put a little spray on the cloth and wipe it across the screen and around the whole body. Every month or so, take off the case and use a cotton swab to clean your phone’s corners and ridges.
Looks like you’ve got a lot of cleaning to do! Don’t worry about hitting all of these spots every day. Believe it or not, it’s actually important to have a few bacteria in your life. Good bacteria live on our skin and in our bodies, and keeping some of them around you is essential for a healthy immune system. Don’t stress, but remember these overlooked places the next time you’re on a cleaning spree.
If you’re concerned about chemical pesticides, remember that soap and water are always effective, and white vinegar will take care of most household bacteria, molds, and mildews.