You might be surprised where bacteria are lurking in your home. It can often be found in some of the surfaces you use on a regular basis. If you want to decrease the spread of germs in your home, it’s important to take the proper steps of cleaning and disinfecting the common spots they’re located in. Before we discuss the most unexpected places in your home that have germs, you may be wondering why it’s important to keep your surfaces clean.
Surfaces that are left unclean carry germs that can make you sick. It often happens when touching an unclean surface, and then touching your face. Germs are able to enter your body through the nose, eyes, mouth, or any break in the skin. The most common illnesses that come from these germs and bacteria include the flu, the cold, and foodborne illnesses.
Simply cleaning your surfaces with soap and water, or using a disinfectant, can remove the bacteria and prevent you from getting an illness. Be aware that after you clean a surface with soap and water, you should make sure to dry the area. Leaving it moist can allow remaining germs to continue to thrive. Now that you know the importance of keeping surfaces clean to prevent the spread of germs, here are the most unexpected places that viruses and bacteria lurk.
1. Kitchen surfaces and items
As mentioned earlier, one of the illnesses that can be spread by viruses and bacteria are foodborne illnesses. The kitchen can surprisingly have more bacteria in comparison to other places in your home. Some of the places they can be found include dish sponges, cutting boards, kitchen sinks, and countertops. In order to prevent any spreading of germs, use disinfectant wipes on your countertop, faucet, and refrigerator surfaces. You can kill the bacteria on damp sponges by heating them in the microwave for one minute.
You could also soak your sponge in warm water with a half teaspoon of concentered bleach to kill them as well. Be sure to change your dish towels a few times a week. In addition, you might want to consider using antimicrobial coatings as well. Generally, the two primary functions of coatings are protection and decoration. When you use antimicrobial coatings, it’ll help hinder the ability of bacteria to grow on your kitchen surfaces. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, when touching or handling food, always wash your hands before and after.
2. Handles, knobs, and switches
You’re probably already aware that spots like the bathroom doorknob can have bacteria, but you’d be surprised to know other knobs, handles, and switches have even more. The National Sanitation Foundation found that there are higher bacteria on bathroom light switches, microwave handles, stove knobs, and refrigerator handles. All of these spots should be cleaned once a week with disinfecting wipes. It’s best to not use the same wipe on each spot, and instead use a new wipe on each one.
3. Bathroom surfaces and items
While it may be no surprise to you that a bathroom has bacteria, there are areas you might not think about as much that have it the most. The toilet, of course, has some bacteria, but you should also be mindful to thoroughly clean the floor around the toilet as well. Speaking of the toilet, always remember to cover the toilet before you flush. Flushing the toilet without covering the lid can cause bacteria to get in the air and migrate on to your sink, floor, and other surfaces.
Additionally, your bath towels can carry bacteria, so it’s important to switch them out at least once a week. The item you probably think least about that can carry viruses is your toothbrush. Most of us leave our toothbrush damp after we brush our teeth, which allows for bacteria to grow on it. It’s recommended that toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months, and especially after you’ve been sick.
4. Car surfaces
There are a lot of spots in our car we touch often. The spot you first probably touch the most is the steering wheel. Gastrointestinal viruses are among the most commonly found viruses on steering wheels. Your gear shift is another common spot that can carry cold and flu viruses. Since it’s a hard surface, it can carry the virus for at least 24 hours. It’s recommended to keep disinfectant wipes in the car and regularly wipe the common spots that have bacteria and viruses. Your cup holders can carry a lot of bacteria not so much because of the touching, but because of the crumbs of food left in it.
The bacteria grow quicker from spilled food in a car because of the heat. You should always clean your cupholder and clean between the crevices of your car. If you can remove your cupholder, it can be helpful to wash it in a dishwasher. Additionally, it’s important to do a cleaning of the outside of your car as well. One example would be removing any buildup of ash in your diesel particulate filter. A diesel particulate filter helps to limit harmful emissions from your car that can aggravate allergies. Despite a nearly 8-hour baking process, giving the filter a good cleaning will remove approximately 70% to 90% of the plugged ash.
5. Bedroom sheets and pillowcases
We leave many things behind after we wake up and get out of our beds for the day. Those things include dead skin cells, saliva, and sweat. All of these elements combined allow for germs to grow in your bed easily. Particularly if you’ve been sick in your bed recently, bacteria and viruses can linger on soft surfaces for minutes to hours depending on what type it is. It’s recommended that sheets be washed at least once a week.
It’s particularly better to do it weekly if you eat food in bed or sweat a lot at night. Your regular washing of sheets should include your pillowcase as well. Washing and replacing your pillowcases at least once a week can prevent bacteria and oils from clogging your skin. In addition, it’s also helpful to pull back the covers when you wake up, so any moisture on your sheets can get dry, giving bacteria less of a chance to grow.
Getting sick occasionally may be unavoidable. Nonetheless, being more aware of the places bacteria and viruses lurk will give you a better chance of staying healthy. Be sure to regularly clean the most common areas they can be found to prevent the spread of germs.