Scrubbing the handle on your fridge and all the light switches with germ-killing cleaners may be on your to-do list when Spring cleaning this year, but those aren't the only germ-infested areas in your house. Prevention magazine has a list of places you don't want to skip when scrubbing:
- Kitchen faucet. The screen on your faucet is perpetually moist and dark — the perfect environment for bacteria. It doesn't help if you accidentally touch the screen with food or your dirty hands. Once a week, it's recommended to "remove the screen and soak it in a diluted bleach solution — follow the directions on the label. Replace the screen, and let the water run a few minutes before using."
- Garbage disposal. We all know that we let all kinds of things go down the disposal, from raw meat to cucumber peels to leftover milk from our cereal bowl. The disposal and the bottom of the sink are full of bacteria, "about 1,000 times more than the average toilet has." So whatever comes in contact with it, whether it be utensils, dishes, or your cutting board, can become contaminated. At least once a week you should "clean the disposal's rubber stopper with a diluted bleach solution — soap and water aren't enough."
- Welcome mat. This was a surprise to me, but it makes sense. It's a place where people wipe their shoes off, and one study found "that nearly 96 percent of shoe soles had traces of coliform, which includes fecal bacteria." The solution? "Spray the doormat once a week with a fabric-safe disinfectant (such as Lysol Disinfectant Spray). Leave shoes at the door, and avoid resting bags and groceries on the mat, too."
Curious to know where else germs are lurking in your home? Then
- Vacuum cleaner. This device may be used to keep your house clean, but it is party central for bacteria. The wheels, the brushes, and the entrance to the hoses are not at all clean. "A recent study by environmental biology professor Charles Gerba and his team found that 13 percent of all vacuum cleaner brushes tested positive for E. coli, which means you could spread it around the house each time you use the appliance." Eww. Your best bet is to "change your vacuum bag frequently, and do so outdoors to avoid the cloud of bacteria that filters into the air. (Vacuum bags that feature antibacterial linings are best, and are available for many major brands.) Clean the cavity of a bagless vacuum with diluted bleach and let it air-dry."
- Dish towels. This statistic totally grossed me out. "A recent study of hundreds of homes across the United States found that about 7 percent of kitchen towels were contaminated with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), the difficult-to-treat staph bacteria that can cause life-threatening skin infections." They also contain E. coli and other forms of bacteria. To avoid contamination, "Stick to paper towels to clean countertops, and save the dishrag to dry just-washed pots and plates. Change towels or launder at least twice a week in hot water and bleach."
To learn five more places where germs are lurking in your home, check out Prevention magazine's list. It's sure to turn you into a clean freak.