There is an old saying: “Cleanliness is next to godliness”, and while most of us make the effort to keep our house clean, wash and do our laundry, there are certain items we tend to neglect – not out of laziness, but rather out of ignorance or simple forgetfullness. So I've compiled a list of items we all use or have in our homes that we tend to overlook when we clean, along with recommendations on how to keep them fresh and bacteria-free!
No one likes to step out of the shower / bath and onto a cold, slippery floor. This is why bath mats are so fantastic! The only problem is, they soak up all that water while lying on the floor – this slows down the evaporation process considerably, creating a perfect environment for bacteria and mold.
What you need to do: Replace the bath mat at-least once a week, and launder it in hot water with bleach (unless the tag says otherwise). It’s also recommended to install a separate drying pole for the mat, to help it dry faster after you’ve finished your shower. Finally, consider disinfecting the floor each time you replace the mat.
You throw all your dirty clothes into it, so it shouldn’t surprise you that some of that filth stays in the hamper.
What you need to do: Use a laundry bag as lining for the hamper. One for dirty clothes, and another for clean ones (and wash the dirty bag with the clothes) If you’re using a plastic hamper, any disinfectant will do, just remember to avoid ones with potential to discolor, like bleach.
Several studies show that when you flush the toilet, it can spray fecal bacteria into the air. If that’s not enough, if your toothbrush is kept in close proximity to the toilet, there’s a good chance some of that nasty bacteria will contaminate it.
What you need to do: Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after use and let it dry completely. Replace your brush every three to four months. If you want to really wash the brush, you can put it in your dishwasher – it’s very effective.
The whole point of a shower is to be clean, but if you’re reusing damp towels – you’re probably getting yourself dirty again. When you towel yourself down, it doesn’t just remove the water from your skin, it also removes dead skin and bacteria, and if your towel isn’t dry – it becomes a bacteria nursery!
What you need to do: Change your towels once a week and let them dry completely after every use. If your towel even has a hint of mildew smell, change it immediately.
Makeup and Makeup Brushes
Wearing makeup shouldn’t make you sick, but current research indicates that it might. In a recent study, researchers discovered that after only 3 months of use, around 40% of mascara tubes were infested with bacteria and fungus.
What you need to do: Replace old eye makeup every 3 months, lotions and liquid foundation should be thrown away every six months, and finally, lipstick and nail polish should be replaced every two years.
A recent study showed that as much as 80% of contact lens cases are contaminated with bacteria, even when the owners used non-wipe cleaners on the case.
What you need to do: Wipe the case after every use and replace it every month. If you are using a hydrogen peroxide cleansing case, make sure you use fresh solution in the case for 24 hours before using it again. You might also want to consider using daily lenses instead of weekly / monthly ones.
Kitchen Buttons, Knobs, and Handles
When you cook, you often touch things like raw chicken and dirty bits of fruits and veggies when you prep them. Since most of us are not responsible enough to wash our hands each and every time, we tend to touch other things in the kitchen, transferring nasty bacteria onto knobs, handles, etc.
What you need to do: Use a disinfectant on any frequently used kitchen surfaces, especially before and after preparing food. (Pro tip: make it easy by keeping disinfecting wet-wipes on the kitchen counter)
Sponges are a perfect habitat for bacteria – It’s porous, damp and dark, with the occasional food deliveries.
What you need to do: Use antibacterial dish soap and sponges in your everyday use. Disinfect your sponge at least once a week by microwaving it on high for two minutes. (This method has been shown to kill 99 percent of bacteria!)
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Most of your meal’s ingredients stop at the cutting board at one point, making it a hotbed for cross-contamination. Researchers still debate whether wooden or plastic boards are better: Plastic ones are easier to clean, but when they’ve been used for a while, it’s very hard to clean between the microscopic grooves. Wood sucks bacteria into its core, but it’s not sure if the bacteria ever resurfaces.
What you need to do: Regularly wash plastic boards in the dishwasher or pour boiling water on them. You can microwave the wooden boards, but be careful as in some cases they can catch on fire. Allow your board to air-dry completely before storing it. Finally, make sure you replace heavily scored boards regularly.
While the antibacterial properties of coffee are known, coffee makers don’t share them. The water reservoir and the internal piping are dark and wet, providing an excellent environment for bacteria and fungi.
What you need to do: Use equal amounts of water and white vinegar through the machine at least once a month. Let half the mixture run through the machine, then switch it off for an hour before letting it finish. Oh, and don’t forget to deep-clean the carafe!
When You're On The Go
Whether they’re ear-buds or big ear-covering ones, using them for an hour causes the number of bacteria in the ears to triple (!) and many of those nasty bugs also migrate to the earphones.
What you need to do: If you have detachable rubber nubbins (that’s the technical term) – you can soak them in a vinegar and water solution for 15 minutes then leave them in water for 10 more minutes before drying. If your earphones don’t have detachable nubbins, you can use a gentle mixture of soap and water on the plastic parts, then use a clean toothbrush to remove any lint from the grill.
Phones are downright filthy! Researchers state that as much as 1 in 6 phones is home for fecal bacteria!
What you need to do: Switch off your phone and clean it with a disinfectant wipe about once a week.
House keys, office keys, car keys, mailbox keys… Keys, keys, keys! We all carry them around, but other than putting them in our pocket, do we even bother to clean them?
What you need to do: Most keys are made from brass, which provides a degree of antibacterial protection. Still, give them a rinse with some dish soap from time to time – if anything, it will make them look better!
Many women can’t go anywhere without their handbag, but a recent study shows that while essential – the handbag is also the third dirtiest thing a woman can touch all day! In 25 percent of bags tested, researchers found E. Coli bacteria!
What you need to do: Regularly clean your bag and don’t put it on dirty surfaces (like the floor of a bathroom). Leather purses should be wiped with a disinfectant wipe every few days, washable ones should be put in the laundry once a week.
Shoes smell because of bacteria and fungus, while the soles have been shown to transport very nasty germs into clean homes.
What you need to do: Use disinfectant spray for the inside parts, and consider not allowing shoes in the house, otherwise, there isn’t much else you can do.
Gym equipment comes into contact with many people every day, and when you use that equipment, all manners of bacteria transfers to your hands and clothes. After a good shower, you throw your dirty clothes into the bag and that’s where the real party begins – humidity from the sweat saturates the dark insides, making the bag an ideal greenhouse for the germs you "collected"!
What you need to do: Store your dirty clothes in a sealable plastic bag. Air out the bag between uses and use a disinfecting wipe on the interior. Wash it on the hottest setting once a week.
It’s important to stay hydrated, that’s for sure – but bacteria like E. Coli can stick to the inside of plastic bottles if they’re not cleaned regularly. A study recently showed that the water in bottles that aren’t cleaned properly are so dirty – are not fit for consumption!
What you need to do: Bottles with a bigger mouth are easier to clean and dry and a bottle made of hard material won’t get scratched while being cleaned. Additionally, soak the bottle in a water and bleach solution once a week.
Like other gym equipment, communal yoga mats are filthy. Wrestlers have been known to catch diseases like staph infections, ringworms and even herpes. Doctors are warning that there is a rise in the spread of warts and athlete’s foot in yoga practitioners.
What you need to do: Bring your own mat! Keep it clean by picking a side that will always face up. Invest in a towel to keep sweat off the mat itself. After every use, the mat should be wiped with disinfectant and hung so both sides can dry completely.
One research into hygiene in hospitals found that the remote controls were three times dirtier than anything else in the room! Another research found that about half of the remotes were homes for antibiotic-resistant staph.
What you need to do: Wipe down remote controls with disinfectant or antibacterial wipe regularly!
In the Bedroom
Did you know that those soft, fluffy pillows hide a terrible secret? Many of them are homes for allergy-inflaming fungi! Let’s not forget all the drool, sweat and dead skin you pour onto those things in your sleep…
What you need to do: Invest in anti-allergen covers and clean your pillows according to the instructions on the tag at least once every other week.
If you thought that the pillows are pretty nasty, consider the fact that only your head lies on them. The rest of your body lies on the sheets, so the amounts of skin and sweat are much larger!
What you need to do: Wash and dry your sheets on the hottest setting and if they’re white – bleach them! A wash with hot water and bleach also helps to clean and disinfect your washing machine!