The 7 Most Germ-laden Spots in Your Home (and How to Clean Them)

Ask most people what the germiest place in a home is, and they’ll probably tell you that it’s the bathroom. While the bathroom does have its hot spots (more on that later) it’s the kitchen that we really have to worry about, according to an analysis by NSF International (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation), a global public health and safety organization. For the study, NSF swabbed 30 common items in people’s homes and came up with a list of germy hot spots. 

They also discovered more than 340 germs lurking around people’s homes, including: 

  • Campylobacter - Foodborne illness that causes diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. 
  • Clostridium difficile (C. diff) - Bacteria that causes severe diarrhea and colitis.
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) - An infection is caused by a type of staph bacteria that's become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. MRSA can lead to serious complications such as infection of heart valves, bone and joint infections, gangrene, or death. 
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli) - Certain strains of this bacteria can produce a powerful toxin that can cause severe illness.
  • Salmonella - Bacteria that can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.
  • Staphylococcus aureus (Staph)  - A germ found on people’s skin. Staph can cause serious infections if it gets into the blood and can lead to sepsis or death.
  • Streptococcus (Strep) - Bacteria causing a host of illnesses from strep throat to scarlet fever, and pneumonia.

Your home, with all of its nooks and crannies, is a breeding ground for germs. And with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been more important to keep a germ-free home. In this article, we’ll go over how to clean the spots on your home that collect the most household germs. 

1. Kitchen Cutting Boards & Blocks

You regularly cut raw meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, herbs, and more on your kitchen cutting board, and, as a result, germs can fester. Cutting boards and blocks that become scratched and scored may be difficult to clean and sanitize. As a result, food particles and microorganisms transmissible through food may accumulate and may be transferred to foods that are prepared on these surfaces. In fact, 18% of cutting boards tested by NSF had Coliform bacteria present – the family of bacteria that includes E. coli and Salmonella. 

How to Clean It: Cutting boards may come into contact with many different foods, so always wash them between use. Either place them in the dishwasher after use, or hand wash with hot soapy water. After cleaning, saturate the surface of the cutting board with Vital Oxide and allow it to air dry. Vital Oxide is NSF certified as a food-contact surface sanitizer (no rinse required) and kills 99.999% of bacteria, including e Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria in less than 60 seconds. Goodbye, germs! 

2. Kitchen Countertops 

Take a minute and think about all the things that touch your kitchen countertops on a daily basis. Raw meat. Unwashed produce. Your child’s toys. Grocery bags. The dog’s bowl. Your cellphone, wallet, and keys. And don’t forget your purse, the bottom of which is likely crawling with germs. According to NSF’s analysis, kitchen countertops had Coliform bacteria present in 30% of the homes tested. 

How to Clean It: At least once daily (especially if you’re handling meat and produce) thoroughly wash your countertops with hot, soapy water, then spray with Vital Oxide to sanitize. Unlike conventional cleaners, Vital Oxide is gentle enough to use on marble and natural stone. 

3. Stove Knobs

This is definitely not a spot most people (including this writer) would think of as germ-laden, but when you consider that sometimes we may forget to wash or wipe our hands as we cook (and handle raw meat or eggs), not to mention the food splatter that can accumulate, it makes sense. 

How to Clean It: Remove the knobs, wash them in hot, soapy water and rinse well to remove grime and food residue. After thoroughly cleaning, spray the knobs with Vital Oxide and allow to air dry before putting them back on the stove. 

4. Pet Toys 

Your four-legged friend’s favorite squeaky toy can be a source of Coliform bacteria (including Staph bacteria), yeast, and mold – none of which are healthy for you, or your pet. 

How to Clean It: Soft toys can usually be washed in the washing machine on a high-heat setting (always check manufacturers’ instructions first) with a hypoallergenic laundry detergent and then dried in the dryer. Rubber, plastic, and fabric toys that can’t be tossed in the washer can be washed by hand with hot water and unscented dish soap. After thoroughly washing the toys, dilute 1 part Vital Oxide to 9 parts water, wipe it onto the toys with a clean microfiber cloth, and let air dry to sanitize. 

5. Coffee Maker 

You use it every day and wipe it down here and there - so what’s the problem? The water reservoir. 50% of coffee makers tested by NSF had yeast and mold present. Grossed out yet? No need to skip your morning coffee! Regular deep cleaning can keep the germ-load down. 

How to Clean It: Be sure to wipe out the water reservoir with a paper towel after each time you use your coffee maker. Every 40-80 brew cycles or at least once monthly, deep clean your coffee maker. First, unplug it and take apart all of the removable components, and wash them in the kitchen sink with hot, soapy water. Spray the pieces with Vital Oxide and let air dry to eradicate bacteria and mold. Then, use a small scrub brush (a clean toothbrush works well) to scrub all the crevices in the coffee maker, wipe clean with a damp cloth, and spray with Vital Oxide to get rid of all the nasty. Celebrate with a fresh cup of coffee! 

6. Toothbrush Holder 

No, the toilet is not the germiest place in your bathroom – believe it or not, that distinction goes to your toothbrush holder. While this may be shocking at first, it starts to make sense once you think about it. Our mouths are full of bacteria, and a toothbrush’s job is to remove food, grime, and bacteria from your teeth and gums. After you brush your teeth, you typically rinse your toothbrush but don’t actually clean it with anything other than hot water. So naturally, the place that holds these items is going to become a refuge for bacteria. And, if your toothbrush holder is located near the toilet, it may also be subjected to particles that are sprayed through the air when you flush. NSF found that an alarming 64% of toothbrush holders contained mold and yeast, 27% contained Coliform, and 14% contained staph.

How to Clean It: At least once a week, wash your toothbrush holder with soap and hot water, or, run it through the dishwasher if it’s dishwasher safe. After a thorough cleaning, spray it with Vital Oxide and let it dry naturally before you put it back in its place. Also, remember to always close the toilet lid when you flush and try to keep your toothbrush holder as far away from the toilet as possible.

7. Dish Sponges

The single germiest item in your home is your average kitchen sponge. In the NSF study, 86% of sponges had mold and yeast, 77% contained Coliform bacteria, and 18% were filled with staph bacteria. Why are kitchen sponges such germ magnets? Well, we use them to wipe down everything from the sink, to countertops, to dishes and the cutting board and we don’t always clean them properly. Sponges also usually stay wet for long periods of time which is an ideal environment for germs. 

How to Clean It: If you use a kitchen sponge, it must be cleaned and sanitized every day. You can pop it into the dishwasher when you’re running a load, or microwave it for two minutes so the heat can zap the bacteria. After cleaning, spray with Vital Oxide for optimal germ-busting. Even with daily cleaning and sanitization, NSF recommends replacing your kitchen sponge at least every two weeks. A good alternative to sponges are microfiber cloths, which are designed to grab dirt and absorb liquids – and they’re easy to toss into the laundry after use. 

At Vital Oxide, we’re passionate about making a product that makes homes and businesses cleaner and safer. Learn more about the science behind our product, as well as tons of great tips on cleaning, disinfecting, and more. If you have any questions, please Contact Us or Send Us a Message on Facebook.

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