Before setting off on a cleaning frenzy, it’s important to understand that not all germs are created equal. The germs you may find on your keyboard, while numerous, may not be as dangerous as the few isolated germs found on the toilet seat or in your washer.
The major zones of filth in the average person’s home are
- The kitchen sink (and sponges)
- The toilet
- The bathtub
- The washer
- The phone
- The trash bin
The kitchen sink is one of the dirtiest places in the house, if not the most, with over half a million bacteria living per square inch in the drain. The combination of food residues, small pools of warm water and wet sponges provides ideal growth opportunities for a host of bacteria.
Recent studies have shown that the toilet, which was thought to be a haven for a multitude of germs, is in fact relatively germ-free. Unfortunately, the few germs that are found there are of the more virulent type, generally E. coli.
As for the bathroom, one would think that the place where one goes to get clean would be clean itself. However, most bathtubs and shower floors are left damp and warm after use, ideal environments for staphylococcus bacteria.
The washer is for most people another unexpected place to find germs. However, most clothes are not washed at temperatures that would kill germs and few washing machine detergents are designed as germicides. Soiled underwear not washed separately can spread E. coli to the entire load.
Electronics that are handled regularly, such as phone, keyboards and mice, have a propensity for letting bacteria survive for relatively long periods of time. Since they regularly come into contact with hands, which are perfect carriers for a multitude of germs, they provide excellent residences for a host of bacteria.
Lastly trash bins, whether indoors or outdoors, provide sheltered conditions and residues for bacteria to grown on. As people tend to avoid cleaning them as often as they should, trash receptacles become perfect locations for germs.
Most breeding grounds for germs can be eliminated with a simple rule: Keep it dry. More effective, cheaper and safer than slathering on anti-bacterial cleaners, dryness can kill virtually all of the germs populating your house. Be disciplined about wiping down your sinks and tubs, eliminating any pools of water, however small. Dry out your sponges fully and wipe down your phones and keyboards on a monthly basis. For those areas were E. Coli is a risk, use small amounts of bleach to kill the bacteria and wash underwear separately.
Most importantly of all, don’t over disinfect as this may cause more serious risks to your health. Living in an aseptic environment is far more damaging that living with a host of generally mild bacteria.