Healthy Living

Where Germs Like to Lurk

The surprising places bacteria hides

Face it: No matter how clean you think you are, germs are in your house. Bacteria divide about every 20 minutes, meaning in the course of a day, one cell can multiply to 70 trillion cells. And though your immune system fights off most microorganisms, some break through your body’s defenses, making you sick.
But you can win the battle against germs. Grab some bleach, soap, water and disinfecting wipes, and seek out germs where they live. You might expect to find germs in your kitchen and bathroom, but we’ve found some oft-overlooked surfaces on the list of dirtiest places in your house.
Switches and Knobs
Germs on your hands translate to germs on doorknobs, light switches and cabinet handles. But we bet you don’t disinfect them regularly. Grab a disinfecting wipe once a week and wipe them down. (Just don’t use the same wipe for more than a few swipes before replacing it with a fresh one.)
Resist the urge to shake out dirty clothes, towels or sheets before putting them in the washing machine. Make sure to wash your hands and wipe down the empty laundry basket. Wash clothes—especially underwear—in hot water. And because a washing machine full of wet laundry is a breeding ground for germs, if the wash cycle ends and clothes sit in the machine for more than 30 minutes, run the cycle again.
The sink, toilet and tub are obvious germ magnets. The floor around the toilet, the flush handle and the cup where your toothbrush sits are not so obvious.
Yes, you clean the sink and wash your dishtowels and sponges. But did you swipe the faucet, refrigerator door (and microwave, stove) handle and cabinet knobs? These are often overlooked, but get just as grimy from the germs you get on your hands while you’re handling raw food and dirty dishes.
How often do you take a disinfecting wipe to your remote control? That—along with computer keyboards, iPods and phones—is cleaned way less often than your toilet seat but touched regularly by the entire family, making it a virtual hotbed of bacterial activity. Most wipes are safe for electronics, but check the label first.

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