Where are the nastiest spots in your house?

As well as you can clean your house, germs will always find a way in. Here are the most common areas in your house which harbor bacteria, viruses, mold and fungi:

#1. Kitchen Sponges and Rags

When not cleaned properly themselves, kitchen sponges and rags transfer germs from one location to another rather than removing them. A whopping 86% of kitchen sponges and rags contained yeast and mold, 75% tested positive for coliform bacteria and 18% had staph present. According to the FDA, they have banned sponges from commercial kitchens, deeming them more hazardous than quick drying rags.

#2. Kitchen Surfaces

The most disturbing discovery in a particular study was the high percentage of germs found in the kitchen, even compared with bathrooms. Coliform bacteria was found on:

  • 45% of kitchen sinks
  • 32% of countertops
  • 18% of cutting boards

In comparison, only 5% of toilet seats tested positive for coliform. Yeast and mold were found on 27% of kitchen sinks, (the same percentage found on toilet seats) 18% of kitchen countertops and 14% of cutting boards.

#3. Knobs, Handles and Switches

Human hands are once again the culprit here, touching and leaving behind dirt and germs on everything including doorknobs, light switches, faucet handles, refrigerator door handle, toilet flush handle, etc. These small items are easily overlooked when cleaning, as most people are much more likely to focus on larger surfaces such as floors, countertops, and furniture. However, it has been reported that, 14% of refrigerator door handles tested positive for staph, while countertops accounted for 0%.

#4. Pet Feeding Bowl and Toys

The most beloved members of the family, kids and pets, are also generous contributors of dirt and germs, bringing unwanted substances from the bathroom and outdoors into other areas of the home. According to the NSF study, sources of Coliforms include not washing hands after using the bathroom and pets.

Pet toys were also the highest contributing household item harboring potentially dangerous staph bacteria, which was found on 23% of the toys tested. Pet bowls in 14% of households also had staph present. Pet beds are also a source of MRSA, pollen, and fecal contamination.

#5. Bathtub and Shower Curtain

Any lingering standing water remaining in the bathtub after a bath or shower breeds mold, fungi and staph bacteria, which can also thrive on cloth or vinyl shower curtains. Drying off the surface after each use reduces the risk of bacterial growth but not many people are apt to turn around after drying themselves off and use their favorite bath towel to dry out the tub.

#6. Carpets

It is estimated that there could be as many as 200,000 bacteria per square inch in family room carpet, after isolating Salmonella, E. coli, and MRSA in carpet fibers. Carpets trap skin cells, food particles, pollen and pet dander, creating a germ paradise. Walking and other activities done on the carpet brings it all closer to the surface.

#7. Toothbrushes, Rinsing Cup and Holder

The proximity of toilets to toothbrushes and rinsing cups and then provides the not-so-lovely fact that flushing produces small sprays of fecal debris. Brushing transfers plaque and bacteria from your mouth onto the toothbrush and according to a study, 27% of toothbrush holders tested positive for coliform bacteria.

#8. Washing Machine

Bacteria, mold, and mildew thrive in moist environments and most clothes are washed on warm or cold cycles without the use of bleach. It's easy to overlook an area such as the inside of a washing machine, which one would assume is clean. However, if you've noticed an off smell on clean clothes after they've been laundered, it's probably time to clean the inside of your machine.

#9. Shared Electronic Devices

Anything touched with the hands frequently and then brought close to the mouth like a phone can pick up and transfer bacteria from both sources. Human hands are actually some of the dirtiest items in a home, especially on kids who are less likely to wash them properly, if at all. Remote controls, cell phones and gaming controls all come into play. Contaminants were found on these items include:

  • Cell phones - 23% had yeast and mold, 5% tested positive for coliform and staph
  • Remote controls - 55% tested positive for yeast and mold, 14% had staph, and 5% showed coliform
  • Game controls - 59% showed yeast and mold, 14% contained staph, and 5% carried coliform

 #10. Bed

That beautiful, restful oasis that you created in your bedroom can harbor fungus, bacteria and thousands of mites and insects. Most of these dangers actually lurk right in your bed. 

Beds are used for sleeping, sex, socializing, eating, working, and everything in-between. If the sheets, blankets, quilts and bedspreads are not washed often, they can harbor dirt that can cause:

  • Skin irritation, eczema, and acne breakouts
  • Fungal and bacterial infections like athlete's foot and MRSA
  • Allergies and breathing issues

To prevent all of this, bed linens should be changed at least weekly and washed properly. Studies have been shown that after one week, bed sheets harbor more bacteria than a bathroom door knob. If you've ever pulled "clean sheets" from the linen closet and they smell stale, that's because there is body oil and soil still in the fabric fibers.

Pillows, mattresses, and box springs should be encased in removable, washable, allergy-proof covers to prevent infestation from dust mites that feed on the skin cells that we shed.

#11. Refrigerator

Every time you unpack your shopping into the fridge, you introduce new microbes to it. These microbes are likely to have come from unwashed vegetables, raw meats or even germs that were already on the surface of the items that you bought. Over congesting your fridge will cause the cold air to not circulate properly and therefore creating an environment that's suitable for bacteria growth. Bacteria found in the fridge have been linked to respiratory and urinary infections and for people who have existing health or weakened immunity problems, it becomes worse for them.