Life Hacks, Science, Now + Beyond

The 3 filthiest, germiest things in your house you touch every day

You're never going to look at your clean plates the same way ever again.

As most people do, I went into a full-blown nesting frenzy when my baby was due.

This not only entailed the fun stuff such as setting up the nursery but also the not so fun stuff, a.k.a. cleaning the house. In my quest to get the house as clean as it could possibly get, I turned to the internet for help. Word of advice, when you are cranked up on baby hormones, do not google the ‘the dirtiest’ anything.

What I found was enough to make me panic. Can you believe there are places in an ordinarily clean home that are actually great spots for germ fests?

1. That dish sponge.

A sponge cleaning a dirty sink
Image Description: A sponge cleaning a dirty sink Via

You would be surprised to know that the item that is most hazardous to your health in terms of carrying bacteria and germs is not the toilet seat but the dish sponge sitting on your kitchen counter. I know it baffled me too. A dish sponge sees it all: every kind of spill, stain, food particle wiped off the counter and unlike us, it doesn’t forget.

A research published in Nature Scientific Report has determined that “kitchen sponges not only act as a reservoir of microorganisms but also as disseminators over domestic surfaces, which can lead to cross-contamination of hands and food, which is considered the main cause of foodborne disease outbreaks.”

The Good Housekeeping Institute claims that the best way to sterilize sponges is to soak in a ¾ cup of bleach in one gallon of water for five minutes and then rinse. The second best way is to cover the sponge with water and zap in the microwave for one to two minutes.

The most efficient to make sure you are not spreading any disease around your home is by making sure you replace the sponges every so often, depending on use.

2. Your doorknobs and handles.

A black & white image of a man attacking a door handle with an axe.
Image Description: A black & white image of a man attacking a door handle with an ax. Via

The second dirtiest place in your home is the one that comes in most contact with your hands – handles and doorknobs.

This one, in all honesty, makes sense because doorknobs and handles are used all the time. Studies have repeatedly shown that norovirus “is consistently transferred via the fingers to melamine surfaces and from there to other typical hand-contact surfaces, such as taps, door handles, and telephone receivers. It was found that contaminated fingers could sequentially transfer the virus to up to seven clean surfaces.”

Brass doorknobs were popular for a long time for a very good reason: they actually kill bacteria. Brass doorknobs disinfect themselves in seven hours; as opposed to stainless steel and aluminum handles and knobs which don’t. Not many households come with brass handles and knobs these days. So the safest bet we have is to regularly wipe down handles, knobs, and anything that comes in constant contact with hands with an anti-bacterial disinfectant wipe.

3. And don’t forget the faucets.

cartoon of a dirty faucet dripping with water.
Image Description: A cartoon of a dirty faucet dripping with water. Via

Who could imagine that the very thing that dispels the substance we use to clean with could actually be filthy itself? When was the last time you disassembled your bathroom or kitchen faucet and subjected it to a deep clean? It gives me the heebie-jeebies to think about this.

Faucets and anything that comes into contact with water is susceptible to buildup and mildewy grunge. And let’s not forget this is where the water we drink (or brush our teeth with) comes from.

But here is an easy fix! Unscrew the faucet and soak it in vinegar for 15 minutes. Afterward, use a toothbrush to clean it from the inside and voila! Clean faucet and bye bye heebie-jeebies.

There’s my list of things to keep an eye on when next cleaning, will they be making yours?