The 9 Germiest Spots You're Not Cleaning
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Down & Dirty1 of 10
By Amy Ahlberg
We all know to scrub the floors, toilets and kitchen counters, but other hidden havens for bacteria may surprise you. We went to the experts to dig up the dirt on the germiest spots you may have missed.
Under the Stovetop2 of 10
You probably wipe up splatters and spills on top of the stove, but when did you last lift the stovetop and look underneath? "Food and liquids collect there and it gets pretty ugly over time," says Kadi Dulude, owner of the housekeeping company Wizard of Homes NYC. Even worse, these spills can attract roaches and pests that, may cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma.
Stay-Clean Routine: "Lift up the surface of the stovetop and brush away crumbs then use dish soap and a sponge to scrub away grime," says Dulude.
The Reusable Bag3 of 10
What's in your eco-friendly grocery tote? Loads of icky bacteria, say scientists at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University. Their research found just 3 percent of shoppers washed their bags regularly and 99 percent of totes examined tested positive for E.coli and other germs. The good news: Machine or hand washing your bag can reduce bacteria by 99.9 percent.
Stay-Clean Routine: Treat bags like dirty laundry and wash them weekly with hot soapy water and make sure meat, poultry or fish is wrapped in a separate bag to prevent juices from contaminating other groceries.
The Fridge4 of 10
Cleaning out your fridge means more than tossing leftovers that look like a failed science experiment. Unwashed produce, raw meats, leaks and spills can turn your fridge into a breeding ground for bacteria and mold spores, which can cause respiratory problems.
Stay-Clean Routine: Remove everything from the fridge every few months and clean using a tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in a quart of water. Rinse with clean water and dry with paper towels. Visible mold (black spots) can be scrubbed away using three tablespoons of bleach in a quart of water.
Door Handles5 of 10
Refridgerator handles—along with doorknobs, TV remotes and faucet handles—are hotbeds of cold-causing rhinovirus germs, which can survive on these surfaces for two days or longer, a study from the University of Virginia reveals.
Stay-Clean Routine: Luckily, a simple swipe of a disinfectant wipe is all you need to reduce your odds of catching a cold. Just remember to wipe the back of the fridge handle—not just the front—as it's an often ignored area that's touched countless times daily.
The Shower Drain6 of 10
You may be bathing with more than just hot water: Hair and soap scum trapped in your shower drain can create biofilm, an icky layer of slime that protects bacteria and helps them thrive.
Stay-Clean Routine: "Make a hook at the end of a wire dry-cleaner's hanger and fish out any hair that has collected in the drain, then pour a cup of baking soda and cup of vinegar down it and flush with hot water," says Dulude.
The Picnic Cooler7 of 10
Another overlooked source of hidden bacteria? Your picnic cooler where food crumbs and moisture sometimes sit for weeks or longer.
Stay-Clean Routine: When you return home from the beach or park, immediately clean your cooler using warm water and make sure it's dry before closing it up and storing it away, the Home Food Safety Program suggests. If your cooler has a drain plug, keep it open when it's not in use to prevent moisture build-up.
The Cutting Board8 of 10
Salmonella bacteria can hide in cut marks and pores on cutting boards, increasing your risk of food poisoning.
Stay-Clean Routine: Rather than giving it a quick rinse and stashing it away, cutting boards should be washed as carefully as you wash your dishes—using hot, soapy water. And replace old, worn-out cutting boards with deep grooves etched into them, as foodborne bacteria is harder to remove from the nooks and crannies of these boards.
The Washing Machine9 of 10
Turns out fecal matter on your intimate items can get mixed with other clothes during the wash cycle and, unless the water is hot, the bacteria will still be alive when you start loading the dryer, transferring to your hands. What's more, mold can grow in front-loading washers as water gets trapped in the door seals.
Stay-Clean Routine: Do a water rinse in your washing machine with a small dose of bleach to kill bacteria and mold and leave the door cracked open to let it dry out.
The Dishtowel10 of 10
Fine, we admit it: It's usually the food stains or foul odor emanating off our dishrags that remind us they need to be washed—not our knack for cleanliness. Unfortunately, these constantly damp kitchen cloths are one of the worst breeding grounds for germs in our home, a survey from the Hygiene Council reveals.
Stay-Clean Routine: Let dish rags dry completely between uses to make them less bacteria-friendly and swap them out daily so you aren't reusing the same dirty cloth to wipe dishes and dry your hands.
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