Where Germs Lurk in Your Home


Americans have become germophobes. We have bottles of antibacterial sprays, gels and soaps all over our homes, cars and offices. But could germs be lurking on unusual surfaces in our homes and offices?

Most bacteria need only three things to thrive and grow. They need time, warm temperatures and moisture. Experts at the Cleveland Clinic advise that bacteria exist in unexpected places. Review the WebMD report of six surprisingly dirty (and germy) places:

  1. Kitchen sinks – Food particles from plates provide a breeding ground for bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella; most people rinse the sink with water, but fail to disinfect it; wash your sink daily with a bleach and water solution; after cleaning the sink, don’t forget to wash your hands
  2. Toothbrushes – After brushing your teeth, you might rinse and store your toothbrush damp; this provides an excellent moist environment for germs; researchers at the University of Arizona discovered that each time a toilet is flushed with the lid open, bacteria and virus-laden water droplets are launched into the air where they can float around for at least two hours and land on surfaces, including your toothbrush; always store a toothbrush where it can dry out between uses, away from the toilet
  3. Salt and pepper shakers – Researchers at the University of Virginia examined salt and pepper shakers used by people with a cold; 41 percent of the shakers tested positive for cold virus germs; wipe off salt and pepper shakers daily
  4. Remote controls – These devices can be breeding grounds for germs; scientists at the University of Virginia discovered that the remote’s surface is among the germiest in the house
  5. Computer keyboards – Most people tend to consume food near computers, they sneeze and cough by the keyboard and don’t wash their hands before working on the computer; a British consumer group study of 33 keyboards showed all had a mix of harmful germs, including E. coli and staphylococcus, and one had five times the germs found on a toilet seat; remember to wash your hands before and after using a computer, avoid dropping food particles into the keyboard where germs can breed, and clean your keyboard and mouse daily with a damp alcoholic wipe
  6. Bathtubs and showers – Researchers examining tubs and showers discovered a range of bacteria on surfaces, including staphylococcus; clean and disinfect the tub and shower daily with a bleach solution or shower cleaner, and don’t forget to dry it with a clean towel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends regular hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizers when you don’t have access to soap and water, but since antibacterial products can build up on the skin, use soap and water after every fourth use. Read more about how to properly wash your hands to protect your health and eyes.