Research has found that while your toilet contains 110 bacteria per square centimeter, your kitchen sink probably contains 100,000 bacteria per square centimeter. Much of this bacteria comes from food, including bugs like E. coli and salmonella. The food is also eaten by the germs and they grow as a result. To resolve this, you should disinfect your sink, drain and faucet handle regularly.
Solutions: When it comes to the dish/sink sponges or rags, things may be even worse, since they spread sink germs all over your dishes, hands and table tops. According to Dr. Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., director of the Environment, Exposure Science and Risk Assessment Center at the University of Arizona’s College of Public Health, around 60% of dishcloths may contain influenza, 32% MRSA, 32% E.coli and 10% salmonella, which is quite frightening. To resolve this problem, we should wash our dish towels in the laundry after use. Or instead, dip them in a sink full of water and diluted bleach.
2. Hand towels in the bathroom
Damp towels or rags of any kind are particularly dangerous for us, because they're the perfect environment for germs to spread.
Solutions: Potentially full of awful viruses, we really should get used to using towels in the kitchen and bathroom only once before putting them in our washing machines, utilizing its sanitization cycle settings.
3. Near the Toilet
The bathroom is quite a germ-laden place, primarily because of our toilets. When we flush them, the resulting spray is dispersed over a radius of 3-6 feet. This means that anything within that range is at risk of contamination. This scenario is particularly problematic in the event of the person using the toilet while ill.
Solutions: To resolve this problem, have family and guests close the toilet lid before flushing, and also cover or remove any items that are currently located within reach of any spray.
Soap bars have long been used in my household, and many new products on the market are quite exciting too! Yet one thing I never really realized is that soap is not meant to, and does not, kill germs. 'So,' says Dr. Reynolds, 'they can end up collecting germs...it's not a sanitizing or disinfecting product, it's a cleaning product.'
Solutions: What we should do to remedy this situation is to actually clean our bars of soap after or before use. On the other hand, make use of liquid soaps and shower gels. However, in the latter case, we must remember to disinfect the bottle's pump regularly too.
5. In your washing machine
Rather like your bar of soap, the washing machine is a used for cleaning, not disinfecting. Therefore clothes fresh from the washer are in fact caked in germs that are not killed in the washing machine, but in the hot dryer.
Solutions: If you put clothes in the dryer, they will become bacteria-free. Alternatively, use the sanitizing cycle of your washing machine to gain the same results.
6. The lunch room
One NSF International survey has found that 24% of Americans go to work even when they're feeling unwell. This means that their germs are transmitted to all other workers that touch the same things. Whether you shake their hand or hold the same door handle, the risk of infection is the same. One obvious location is the lunch room, where the microwave, fridge handles, coffee pot and kettle (not to mention the sink) are all risky bacteria havens.
Solutions: If you find yourself in a work space for any period of time, you should ensure that you wash your hands regularly to keep yourself germ-free and healthy.
7. In the public toilets
Public toilets are obvious places for large numbers of germs to congregate. The worst places are the sinks, stall doors, tissue dispensers and entrance doors. However, research has shown that using the toilet seat is not dangerous, which is a little surprising to me!
Solutions: Aside from washing your hands thoroughly, it's recommended that you use one of the paper towels on offer to open the bathroom door as you leave, since the door is often the most unhygienic part of the restroom.
Our computer station at work is also a breeding ground for bacteria. Let's imagine that your hands were full of them thanks to your daily work activities, but you've just washed them. Going back to your computer and beginning to use it again will see your hands becoming as dirty as they were before washing. The same is true for all parts of your workstation and your cell phone.
Solutions: Make good use of disinfecting wipes to go over all your computer paraphernalia and devices. Also check out our guide for how to properly clean your PC.
9. Inside your car
Remarkably, our car seats - especially the kids' seats - contain more germs than our toilets do, says a recent study. Due to our movements between work, private and public spaces, our cars actually facilitate the movement of germs between all of them. Just think of all the parts of your car that you touch frequently: the steering wheel, dashboard, seat belts and door handles for instance.
Solutions: All these risky areas should be wiped regularly with disinfectant wipes. You should also keep a bottle of hand sanitizer handy for use prior to setting off in your car.
10. Your purse or bag
Once we've driven home in our car, there are many items we bring into our homes that have been on quite the icky adventure, picking up lots of unpleasant, microscopic creatures on the way. If you carry a purse or bag of some kind, just think of everywhere you put it during the day. Its bottom and sides will probably be teeming with destructive germs from floors and train platforms.
Solutions: Dr. Reynolds suggests we keep our purses and bags by our front door, or hung up on a hook away from the most common living areas of our house.
11. In and on your shoes
Throughout their wanderings, our footwear pick up all kinds of germs and dirt that we would do well to keep outside our homes. In places like Korea and Japan, it has long been a custom that outdoor shoes are for outside and indoor shoes for inside. By doing this, cross-contamination is avoided, thus keeping a newly-cleaned house clean for as long as possible.
Solutions: Take a leaf out of the orientals' book and implement a strict no-shoes policy. Make this easier for guests by installing plenty of shelving near your front door, and also make slippers available - warm ones for winter and open ones for summer. Your carpet and flooring will thank you for it!