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What Are the Biggest Home Hideouts of Germs & Bacteria?

Hideouts: Germs have a million. They boast more safe houses than a Russian spy. They wear more camouflage than a chameleon. They have more disguises than a costume convention or Mission Impossible secret agent Ethan Hunt.

And when it comes to our homes, a place we spend up to 90 percent of our time, germs are masters of disguise, hiding cloaked though in plain sight in obscure spots the average American wouldn’t think to look.

“We co-exist with microbes, but some are more harmful to humans than others,” Chrysan Cronin, infectious-disease epidemiologist and director of public health at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa.., told The Washington Post. “We need to be a little more vigilant in making sure we don’t come into contact with those.”

The germiest places in the average American home these days may surprise you. The Post recently ran down a list of the most surprising home bacterial hot spots.

  • Toothbrush HolderThe toilet is off the hook, this is the National Sanitation Foundation’s germiest bathroom location. The convenient place to make sure you neve use your toothbrush is also a germ haven with more cross-contaminated bacteria than summer has mosquitos. The NSF reports an alarming 64% of toothbrush holders contain mold and yeast, 27% contain coliform and 14% contain staph. 
  • Disposal Flange – Your kitchen’s Grand Central Station for food disposal is also a germ train station of the worst offenders. Cronin’s Lab notes your disposal’s underside houses the “slimiest, grossest and germiest biofilm” you’ve ever seen. Enter the aerosol disinfectant here. We recommend disinfecting your disposal at least once a month. 
  • Sponges & Dish Towels – A waiting room of every kind of microbe you can imagine. And they are in no rush to catch their next flight. They are more than happy to hang around to greet the next person who uses them. A NSF study found 86% of sponges contain mold and yeast, 77% contain coliform bacteria and 18% are filled with staph bacteria.
  • Coffee Reservoir – The best part of waking up is definitely not all the over-caffeinated germs hanging around your coffeemaker’s disposal and grounds overflow area. Coffee reservoirs are damp, dark and a germ paradise. 
  • Kitchen Appliance Knobs & Buttons – The most high traffic room of the home is also the home state for untold millions of germs who’ve taken up long-term residence on the kitchen appliances we touch and use on a daily basis: the refrigerator, oven, microwave and sink faucet.  “I really suggest people think a lot about hand washing during meal preparation,” Benjamin Chapman, PhD., professor and food safety specialist in the department of Agricultural and Human Sciences at North Carolina State University, told NBC’s Today Show. “Think about all the things in your kitchen that you might be touching.”
  • Soft-Sided Lunch Boxes – Convenient, reusable and easy to pack, they are godsends for students and employees who pack a lunch. Unfortunately, they also pack much more than turkey sandwiches, chips, bananas, yogurt, fruit and granola bars. Clean them regularly to avoid inviting a rogue nation of germs to lunch with you, coworkers and friends.
  • Pet Bowls – We love them, but remember, your family’s least hygienic member is not going to clean their food and water bowls themselves. And if your dog or cat’s food bowl has been hanging around full and uncleaned for a couple days, you can bet your paycheck so has an untold army of germy invaders. Clean them daily because you know your pet won’t.
  • Purses, Wallets & Keys – When was the last time any of us thought to thoroughly clean out the essential items we take with us everywhere, both home, work and on the go? Just think of how many germs may be sleeping on those crumbled up dollars, coins and combs residing in your purse and wallet. 

Time For A Home Germ Deep Cleanse 

If it’s been a hot minute or never since you cleaned any of these home germ havens, it’s time for a deep cleanse, STAT. To ensure the health and happiness of your family, pets and guests, make sure you evict the germy invaders who may be crashing in the highly visited places where you least expect them.

“Your home, with all of its nooks and crannies, is a breeding ground for mold, staph germs, yeast and coliform bacteria,” My Move’s Terri Williams writes. “Some places in your home are germier than others, so cleaning takes a little extra effort in these areas.”

You designed your home for your family. Don’t let harmful microbes turn it into an unregulated Germ Zone.

“We want to ensure that our houses are healthy and clean so they can be safe places for work, play, juvenation and sanctuary,” the NSF stresses.