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Germs, and Dirt, and Grim, Oh My!

When thinking about household contaminates, the places that come to mind first are usually places like the bathroom, the basement, or laundry rooms. According to a study on germs by the NSF (The Public Health and Safety Organization) in 2011, despite common belief, the highest risk places are actually concentrated elsewhere, and many of them may come as quite the surprise. The importance of maintaining a clean home is paramount, and knowing where the problem spots in your home are can help you along towards a safer, cleaner living environment. Let’s down and dirty Deco & Bloom Style with the 10 Dirtiest Places in Your Home.

10 Dangerously Dirtiest Places in Your Otherwise Clean Home

10. Cutting Boards: When it comes to kitchen cleaning, this is one place that often gets overlooked. Cross contamination is one of the biggest threats when it comes to sickness and disease in the kitchen, and few places come in contact with more dangerous foods than the cutting board. Many folks simply wipe down the cutting board with a sponge when they are done, and call it a day, but that may be leaving behind soaked in germs and grime. To make sure that your cutting boards are clean, wash them thoroughly with plenty of soap and hot water. If possible, use food grade hydrogen peroxide after each use to ensure a total and deep clean to help stop cross contamination and keep your kitchen clean, and you healthy.

9. Stove Knobs: Keeping in the kitchen, our next item is also an easily overlooked spot. Stove knobs are one of the things we touch all the time while cooking, often without thinking of the food we have just been preparing. To make sure we aren’t transferring germs and other grime around as we turn on and off our stoves, one of the best ways to clean those knobs is to soak the in warm water with dish soap. This will go a long way towards making sure that your stove (along with the food you cook on and in it) stays germ and disease free.

8. Counter Tops: Counter tops come in contact with more food products than any other surface in the kitchen, which, much like the cutting boards, makes them a high risk area that often doesn’t get the deep cleaning it so desperately needs. In an average day, your counters are likely to see everything from raw meats and vegetables, to your mail, and even your car keys. If you wouldn’t want to rub your mail and car keys on your food before eating it (and lets be honest here, you really don’t), you will want to make sure those counters are well cleaned off before preparing food. The cleaning method you use will depend on the sort of counter top you have. If you are looking to see what sort of counters are the easiest to maintain, look for minimally porous materials, as rougher materials offer germs more places to hide.

7. Pet Toys: Whenever your family is playing with your pet it’s always important to ensure that they wash their hands when they are done. Pets are cute and lovable, but they can also harbor colonies of all sorts of bacteria that, while it may not be harmful to them, can be extraordinarily harmful to us. Our four-legged-family-friends tend to carry large amounts of contaminates in their mouths, and unfortunately, they tend to use those mouths to play and show affection. Make sure to disinfect those toys regularly for your health and the health of your pets, but be sure to use non-toxic cleaners to do so. Many pet stores make special cleaners you can use, or you can soak the toys in a vinegar solution to disinfect them (the epa states that vinegar is a non-toxic alternative to bleach).

6. Faucet Handles: Faucet handles may seem like an odd area to be high risk, since the primary time when we come into contact with them is when we are washing out hands. The main problem though is that when we come to wash our hands, we touch the faucet handles first, meaning that whatever was on our hands that caused washing to be a necessity is now on the handles. As we discussed in a recent article, 6 Must Have Kitchen Innovations for your home, many faucet manufacturers are beginning to offer touch faucets and touch-less faucets to avoid this contamination complication, but for now, it’s important for us to maintain cleanliness around our faucet handles. Try turning the sink off with a paper towel when you are done washing, and make sure that you clean the faucet handles thoroughly whenever you wash out your sink.

5. Coffee Reservoir: For most folks, starting the morning with a hot fresh cup of coffee in an imperative. Between our homes, our offices, and restaurants, over 150 million cups of coffee are consumed every day in the US. But when it comes to cleaning out those coffee makers, most folks simply swish out the coffee pot with some soap and call it a day, but that’s missing one of the biggest possible problem areas of your coffee maker, the water reservoir. The reservoir is a warm, dark, damp area, giving germs, mildew, and mold an ideal spot to grow. To combat this, run a cycle of vinegar through the coffee pot about once a month to make sure nothing is growing in it (make sure you follow it up with a couple of run throughs of just water to ensure the vinegar doesn’t affect the coffee’s taste.)

4. Pet Bowl: Similar to the pet toys, your pet’s food and water bowl are both places that are going to be coming in direct contact with your pet’s mouth on a very regular basis, and as such, are likely to be high risk areas. As with your furry friend’s toys, it’s important to clean their bowls both for their health, and for yours, but it’s important to make sure that we are careful with the cleansers we use to do so (after all, your pet is going to be consuming things directly out of these bowls). We once again advise the use of vinegar as an excellent, non-toxic cleaning solution that is safe for use around pets. Soak the bowls with vinegar once a week, and then wash them out thoroughly so that the flavor of your pet’s favorite food isn’t harmed.

3. Tooth Brush Holder: Toothbrushes are an essential way to ensure good oral hygiene, but when we put our toothbrushes back in the holder we can be transferring some of the germs we just cleaned out of our mouths, over to that holder. In addition, the most common place for toothbrush holders to be kept is in on the bathroom sink’s counter, leaving them vulnerable to all sorts of bacteria. To counteract this, cleaning is suggested at least once a week. If the toothbrush holder is sturdy, run it through a wash cycle in your dishwasher to cleanse it, otherwise consider soaking it in, or wiping it down with, the food safe your disinfectant of choice.

2. Kitchen Sink: When it comes to cleaning your kitchen, be it your hands, your dishes, or food, pretty much everything gets washed off in the sink at some point. All of the grime and germs from everything you’ve washed, goes straight into your kitchen sink, and not all of it is going to be washed down the drain. When putting our food in the sink to be washed, we want to know that the sink is clean of germs and bacteria, and the best way to ensure this is to clean your sink out regularly with a strong disinfectant like vinegar. Make sure you really scrub the surfaces down well as the metal the sink is made from can be pretty porous, and be sure to get the whole sink, from the tip top of the faucet, all the way down to the drains, leaving nowhere for those germs to hide.

1. Kitchen Sponge: Much like the sink, your sponges see just about every dirty thing in your kitchen, so it’s important to make certain that the sponge you are using is clean and disinfected. Between food residue on counter tops, stoves, and dishes, and dirt and grime on your appliances or cabinets, it’s incredibly easy to inadvertently spread contamination through out your kitchen, unless you are being truly careful with your sponges. Be sure to replace your sponge often, and disinfect between each use, even if it’s simply moving from one surface to another, ensuring that you aren’t using the sponge as a transport method for harmful germs. Also remember that when disinfecting heat is going to be the easiest way to do so, as a sponge is designed to be one of the most porous objects in your home. If possible, have separate sponges for different activities so that you aren’t really on a single sponge for all of your cleaning.

If you would like to read the full article from the NSF, follow this link:  How to Clean the Germiest Home Items

Tell us what you think the Dirtiest place in your home is in the comments below for a chance to win our monthly Drawing!

Melanie Fisher + The Deco & Bloom Team