Everyone knows that the germiest places of a home typically include the bathroom toilet, the kitchen countertops, all the sinks, the bathtub or shower, and any other surfaces that are regularly covered in layers of various types of gnarly ick.
Sticking to a good cleaning routine that covers all those areas is a must, but you shouldn't stop at just that. In fact, you'd probably be pretty surprised to find out just how many other places around your home that are absolutely teeming with germs -- yet are rarely cleaned, if at all.
Here are a few good house cleaning tips to remind you of the dirtiest things you might be missing:
1. All the doorknobs and light switches in your home.
You and everyone else you live with touch them every day, multiple times a day, yet almost never give them a good wipe down. Researchers who applied virus samples to doorknobs in a workplace found that the virus had spread to up to 60 percent of workers after just two hours. The same scenario could easily happen in your own home.
Try using an essential oil to make your own natural cleaning product that you can use on all the doorknobs -- indoor and even outdoor. Aim to wipe all those nasty germs away once a week or so.
2. The handles on all kitchen drawers, cupboards, cabinets, and even appliances.
The kitchen is the main room that’s most susceptible to bacteria and germs, even more so than the bathroom. Given that you’re often handling food and liquids while fumbling around to grab cutlery or to shove something in the oven, it's far too easy to forget about all the things you've touched with your grimy hands and all the food splatter that finds its way onto every surface.
Next time you wipe down your kitchen countertops or sink after a a crazy cooking session, make sure to get all the handles, buttons, and knobs you touched too. And to be safe, do a quick but thorough wipe down of everything you regularly touch at least once a week.
3. Your computer keyboard and mouse.
Your computer keyboard and mouse may be carrying up to three times more bacteria than a toilet seat, depending on how often you use it of course. That's pretty disgusting.
Cleaning your computer can be a bit tricky, however, since you don’t want to be spraying a cleaning product directly onto anything electronic that really shouldn’t get wet. Use one of these homemade vinegar cleaning recipes to spray a small amount on a cloth or paper towel so that you can carefully wipe down your keyboard and mouse.
4. Your coffee maker.
Another household item you probably use every day but only think to clean maybe once in a blue moon is your coffee maker. According to a NSF International study that involved a swab analysis of 30 homes, yeast and mold were found in 50 percent of coffee maker reservoirs.
The reservoir is almost always wet or filled with water, and that's where the problem occurs. If you use it every day, you should give the reservoir a nice good wipe down and flush it out with white vinegar once a week.
5. Your dishcloths and sponges.
Speaking of yeast and mold, when was the last time you changed your kitchen dishcloth or sponge? The NSF found that 86 percent of household dishcloths and sponges were a pathogen's paradise. Even if you give your sponge a rinse after using it, it still remains wet -- making it a perfectly moist breeding ground for bacteria.
Consider popping your dishcloth or sponge in the microwave every one or two days for a couple of minutes to zap them clean. Aside from doing that, you should be replacing your used dishcloths and sponges at least every two weeks.
6. Your makeup bag.
Makeup brushes and cosmetics that are used frequently aren’t only caked in makeup -- they're festering in bacteria that’s been transferred from your face and hands too. All of that can easily spread to the handles, plastic surfaces, and the makeup bag itself.
Use a natural soap and warm water to clean all of your brushes and to wipe down all the smooth surfaces of your cosmetic products. Throw your makeup bag in the washing machine if it's made of fabric that's safe to do so. You can follow these five makeup cleaning tips to ensure your entire makeup bag is squeaky clean inside and out.
7. Your toothbrush holder.
Even if you rinse your toothbrush well through running water every time after brushing, the moisture that eventually seeps down and out of the bristles can cover your toothbrush holder in all sorts of disgusting germs over time. The NSF found that 64 percent of household toothbrushes had yeast or mold on them.
It’s easy enough to hand wash your toothbrush holder once a week with soap and water, but you can even put it in the dishwasher to be washed alongside your dishes as well.
8. Your pet’s toys and food bowls.
Of course you love your pet, but are you washing his (or her) toys and food bowls as often as you should? The NSF found that pet food bowls are actually the fourth dirtiest place in a home. And given that your pet’s toys spend so time on the floor, outside, and in your pet's mouth, it's a bit horrifying to try and imagine just how filthy they might be too.
Pet food bowls should be washed by hand or in the dishwasher once a day. Plastic toys can be washed easily by hand with soap and hot water every week or so if they’re played with frequently, and fabric toys can be thrown in the washing machine to be washed in hot water.
So, did you pass the test? How many of these things do you regularly clean? Set a calendar reminder or add them to your to-do list so you don't forget next time you get the urge (or the obligation) to clean your house.
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