ENTERTAINMENT  :   Lifestyle

The dirtiest places in your home

Saturday , 20 February 2016

Think you have a clean house? Well, you might need to think again! There are quite a few places around the home that are loaded with germs. Your immune system protects you against most microorganisms, but there are many types of germs that can mutate into things that your body’s defence system doesn’t recognise. That’s why it’s important to keep a clean house!

This week, we take a look at some of the dirtiest places in your home and how you can keep them clean.

Kitchen sink, counter, sponges and cloths

The kitchen counter and sink are one of the dirtiest places in the average home. Food particles from dishes that are soaking or have been rinsed make for ripe breeding grounds for bacteria. In fact, according to one study, 45 per cent of kitchen sinks contained coliform bacteria and 27 per cent contained moulds. Kitchen sinks can also harbour bacteria like E coli and salmonella. Then, there’s sponges and dishcloths—the actual items you use to clean with, are likely the dirtiest items in your home. One study found a whopping 77 per cent of kitchen sponges and rags harboured coliform bacteria and a staggering 86 per cent, harboured yeast and mould.

Cleaning tips: The kitchen counter and sink should be sanitised—sides and bottom—with a bleach-and-water solution once a day, if possible, and at least twice a week. You should run some of the solution down the drain, too. Make sure you remove the drain plugs and strainers and clean them as well. You can microwave wet sponges for two minutes, once a day. Replace sponges every fortnight and wash dishcloths once a week at least.

Cutting boards

Cutting boards can house potentially harmful bacteria like coliform and can harbour yeasts and moulds. According to one study, the average cutting board contains 200 times more fecal bacteria than a toilet seat! The germs usually come from raw meat products. The tiny grooves carved in by knives are especially liable to collect germs.

Cleaning tip: Put cutting boards in the dishwasher or hand-wash with hot soapy water after every use. You can also soak them in a solution of 2 teaspoons of bleach and 3 ½ litres of water, for plastic boards, and 2 tablespoons of bleach and 3 ½ litres of water, for wooden boards—don’t soak overnight. Make sure you let them air-dry completely before storing.

Toothbrush and toothbrush holder

You put it in your mouth twice or thrice a day, so, you’d best make sure it’s as clean as can be! There are several ways that toothbrushes attract bacteria—dampness post-rinsing, the germs from your own mouth and germs from the toilet. Flushing a toilet releases a massive spray of bacteria- and virus-containing droplets into the air. And, if you’re not careful, these can easily land on your toothbrush. Toothbrush holders tend to contain high levels of bacteria. This is due to the flush spray and also to the fact that not many people think to regularly clean the holder. One study found that 64 per cent of tested holders contained yeast and mould.

Cleaning tips: After using your toothbrush, place it somewhere where it can easily air out and dry before your next use. Make sure you don’t put it too close to the toilet. Also, replace your toothbrush often—especially after you’ve been ill. And, you can close the toilet lid before flushing. Twice a week, wash your toothbrush holder either in the dishwasher (if safe) or with hot soapy water.

Coffee makers

This one goes out to all the coffee lovers out there. The dim, moist reservoirs of coffee makers make for perfect breeding grounds for microorganisms. According to one study that swabbed reservoirs of coffee makers, 50 per cent contained mould and yeast! The areas behind and underneath coffee makers can attract mould and bacteria, too, due to crumbs and dried spills.

Cleaning tip: The best thing to do is to follow the cleaning instructions from your coffee maker’s manual. You can also add 4 cups of vinegar to the reservoir, let it sit for 30 minutes, then brew the vinegar and finish by running two or three fresh water-cycles to ensure that the vinegar smell is gone.

Home electronics & keyboards

Eating at your computer or using a keyboard without washing your hands can be a bigger health concern than you’d think. A study by a British consumer group swabbed keyboards for germs and found loads of potentially harmful bacteria, including E coli and staph. Electronic items including remote controls, phones and iPods can sometimes harbour more bacteria than a toilet seat! This is because they are often shared by multiple family members or colleagues and are cleaned less often than a toilet seat is.

Cleaning tip: Wash your hands before and after you use your computer, laptop and other electronic items. If you have to eat at your desk, try not to let crumbs fall onto your keyboard. To clean your keyboard, gently shake out any crumbs. You can also vacuum it for stubborn crumbs. Wipe down the keys and mouse and other electronic items with disinfecting wipes, but make sure that they aren’t too wet.


You don’t want to be cleaning yourself in a place that, itself, is dirty! Bathtubs can harbour mild to harmful bacterial growths, including fungi and staphylococcus bacteria. Whirlpool tubs are even worse than regular bathtubs, because water gets easily trapped in the lining of whirlpool tub pipes, which provide a breeding ground for bacteria.

Cleaning tip: After you bathe, clean and disinfect the tub with bleach or a bathroom cleaner and then dry it with a clean towel. You can also use an old toothbrush to clean hard-to-reach places like drains, faucets and the flush handle on the toilet. For whirlpool tubs, make sure to clean out the pipes regularly.