Cleaning your home regularly is important, but do you really clean often enough? While forgetting to vacuum shows up in the dirt on your feet and forgetting to dust can make you sneeze, some chores can go unnoticed. The effects of forgetting to disinfect, for instance, are impossible to see. But the bacteria are still there! And they can still make you sick if you're not careful.
Your number one line of defense against germs making you sick is simple: Wash your hands. While bacteria lurking on your bed pillow or couch cushion isn't great, it's not likely to make you ill unless it somehow gets on your food, in your mouth, or on your hands. If bacteria get on your skin and infiltrate your pores, it can cause breakouts.
Cleaning your home regularly is still important to keep germs from growing into a real problem. But are you cleaning all the right places? Often, people miss the areas where bacterial growth is the worst. These are the areas of your home where dangerous bacteria might be growing.
Air Vents and Bathroom Fan
Out of sight, out of mind. With your air vents out of direct view, it's easy to forget to clean them. But behind those plastic vents, there's a huge pileup of dirt and debris just begging to be cleaned. If you let the dust - and potentially mold - build up, it'll get spewed throughout your home every time you turn on the AC. Clean your air vents. Don't let bacteria spray all over your home!
Blenders are tremendously useful tools, but they are tricky to clean. Some of that carrot ginger soup or chai banana power smoothie inevitably finds its way into an impossible-to-reach crevice. The blender gasket - the circular piece of plastic adjoined to the blade - is rarely sanitized or scrubbed. A 2013 NSF International Household Germ Study revealed that 36 percent of these gaskets contain traces of salmonella and 43 percent of them carry yeast or mold.
Every time you use a can opener, tiny particles of food can get on the blade. Later, this food can serve as a feeding ground for bacteria. You also touch the can opener with your hands, increasing the risk that the tool is contaminated. Make sure you wash your can opener alongside your dishes to keep all future canned foods safe.
We know to clean the nooks and crannies of our homes, but what about the objects you're using to clean them? Your brooms, mops, sponges, and other cleaning utensils could be teeming with bacteria. After you clean, consider cleaning the tools you used themselves - especially your kitchen sponge. According to some studies, it could (ironically) be the dirtiest thing in your kitchen!
If you don't use a dishwasher, you could unknowingly be eating bacteria for breakfast. The drying rack you use for your dishes could be hiding hordes of germs unless you clean it regularly. Just because the dishes are (somewhat) clean doesn't mean the dish rack is! Not only does the dish rack get damp every time you use it, making it an ideal breeding ground for mold and other bacteria, you also touch it with your hands and cook in close proximity.
It's common to do laundry once every two or three weeks, but how often do you throw your kitchen dishcloth into the wash? A study conducted by NSF International found that 75 percent of dishcloths and sponges contain some form of coliform bacteria such as salmonella or E. coli.
Drip Coffee Pot
This might be a scary thought, but you should be cleaning out the coffee reservoir (the compartment that holds the water) on a regular basis. The damp and dark area is the perfect place for mold to hang out and grow, but don't rush out and buy a completely new appliance just yet. Properly cleaning the coffee reservoir is easy; simply pour in equal parts water and vinegar and let it sit for 30 minutes, then turn the coffee maker on and let the vinegar solution drip out. Rinse the machine out with water before brewing another pot of coffee.
You probably use your earbuds all day - they bounce around in your purse and your pocket, get shoved in your ears, passed through people's hands... They can collect a gross amount of bacteria from your skin and the other surfaces they touch. Especially if you share them or use them at the gym, these earbuds can easily pass germs from person to person. Without submerging them in water, simply clean them using a cloth and some soap or a disinfectant.
Ice Cube Trays
We know the ice at restaurants is swarming with E. coli, but what about the ice you're making in your own home? If you aren't cleaning your ice tray, you're just as bad. Even though all you're putting in the tray is water, you're still touching that piece of plastic with your dirty hands every time you make yourself a drink.
The kitchen countertop, the place where fresh fruits and vegetables and other ready-to-eat food items are set to rest, is frighteningly dirty. An NSF study found that one in three countertops was riddled with harmful coliform bacteria. Wiping the countertop with a used dishcloth or sponge only exacerbates the problem. To effectively clean a countertop, spray it with kitchen cleaner or disinfectant and wipe it down with a paper towel.
How many times per day do you use your microwave? Whether you're reheating pizza or reviving store-bought sushi, you probably don't wash your hands before you press the buttons. You're in a rush to eat your delicious food! Which is fine - but remember, you should disinfect the buttons now and again so you don't contaminate your hands right before you eat.
We've all heard before just how gross your smartphone can get. Studies show that a smartphone can be 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat. And you're putting this gross surface right next to your mouth every single day. A simple wipe-down with some disinfectant should do the trick.
Who knew you could get sick just from changing the channel? Your TV remote is hiding more germs than almost any other surface in your living room, accumulated from skin contact from all your friends and family, every time someone presses a button. Eating in front of the TV is great and all, but at what risk? Clean your remote control regularly to keep away from unwelcome germs.
Reusable Grocery Bags
Taking reusable bags to the grocery store may be eco-friendly, but experts are saying they can spread deadly bacteria if they're used to carry raw fish and meat. Fatal bacteria - such as E. coli and campylobacter - can transfer from the outside of food packaging to your reusable bag. Once you fill your bag with more food again, the bacteria can infect your purchases. Wash these cloth bags as you would your clothes and towels.
Your bathroom gets hot and humid every time you shower - but do you ever disinfect that bunched-up shower curtain after it gets damp? Probably not, and you're subjecting your bathroom to a whole lot of overgrown mold and bacteria as a result.
According to a study conducted in 2011, your toothbrush holder is the third dirtiest place in your home. When you clean it, make sure you get all the toothpaste, dried saliva, and other gunk out (you can use a pipe cleaner if it's hard to reach).
Think that rotting pile of leftovers disappeared once you threw it in the garbage can? Think again. Tiny food and drink particles can splatter and seep onto the rim and handles of your trashcan, contaminating the trash itself even after you put in a fresh bag. That's why your trash can is actually one of the dirtiest places in your kitchen.