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15 Germiest Places in Your House You Need to Clean — but Don’t

No matter how well we clean, our homes are full of bacteria, germs, dirt, and all kinds of invisible particles. If there were an easy way to quantify just how many there are, even the most blasé among us would make a swift shift to full-on germaphobe mode.

The germiest places in your kitchen, for instance, are objects and spots you should really clean regularly to stop harmful bacteria from flourishing. But how often do you wash out the vegetable drawer in your kitchen or sanitize the water dispenser? When was the last time you washed the knobs on your stove or washed out your knife block? A month ago? A year ago? Never? Oops.

If you’re grossed out by all of the germs and bacteria that might be lurking in your kitchen, you should know there are plenty of other places for such organisms to hide in your home. And, like those random nooks and crannies in your kitchen, you probably aren’t regularly cleaning these germ hot spots. Ready to see the error of your ways and get at least a little bit grossed out? Read on to check out which places in your home are the germiest.

1. Dish sponge or rag

pouring dish soap on a sponge

pouring dish soap on a sponge Your dish sponge is one of the germiest items in your entire home | iStock.com

NSF International, an independent public health and safety organization, conducted a Germiest Places in the Home study in 2011. The organization asked 22 families to swab 30 household items to measure the contamination levels of yeast, mold, and coliform bacteria. Although most people thought the bathroom would be the germiest place in the house, it turned out the kitchen was actually worse when it came to the presence of bacteria, yeast, and mold.

In fact, the germiest item in your entire home is likely your dish sponge or rag. NSF found coliform bacteria — a family of bacteria that includes Salmonella and E. coli and is an indicator of potential fecal contamination — on more than 75% of dish sponges and rags.

To clean a wet sponge, place it in the microwave for two minutes once a day. You should also replace it often. NSF advises getting a new sponge every two weeks or even more often. The organization also advises that dishcloths, towels, and rags are better options for kitchen cleaning than sponges. That’s because they can be sanitized with your washing machine’s sanitizing cycle or with bleach. You should replace washable linens every one to two days to keep germs in check. 

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