When you think about where germs might be lurking in your home, chances are that the toilet, garbage can, and door handles come to mind. While germs do indeed rest in and around those areas, there are plenty of other places where they exist—and some of these places may not be ones you typically consider.
Here are the top 7 surprising sources of germs in your home right now.
1. Makeup bag
Experts are fast to point out that your makeup bag can boast a ton of bacteria. The bag and the items in it are loaded with tiny spots and crannies that microorganisms love. Lipstick caps, compact mirrors, and brush bristles are just a few items where germs love to the hideout. Add to this the fact that your fingers—which have been in contact with a multitude of germs throughout the day—are touching these items, and it’s easy to see how such a cute little pouch can harbor so much grossness.
2. Clean clothing
Who would think that clean, just-washed clothes are germ magnets? Although they may be clean, if you don’t transfer them to the dryer promptly then they become germ magnets while they just sit in the washer. It’s advised to let them sit for no more than 30 minutes without putting them in the dryer; if you forget (and who hasn’t!), run them through the wash cycle again.
In one giant bin rests sweaty, smelly clothing, infused with everything from caked-on mud to makeup smears, dandruff, pet hairs, a variety of stains (i.e. coffee and blood), and whatever other remnants have attached themselves to outfits.
Take into consideration that many family members contribute to this pile day after day and that in some cases, those clothes are worn for days in a row. Now, add to this thought that while most hampers have some breathable properties like a woven fabric, they have a lid that covers this grossness—essentially sealing in this mix of germs. Furthermore, hampers are typically in the bathroom, which is an area prone to heat and moisture and therefore a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Sure, that bathmat is great to help prevent slips and falls, but it can also hide a host of germs. Everything that you’re washing, shaving and sloughing off while showering hits that mat—if you’re not taking that extra step and cleaning it after every shower you can be sure that all kinds of germy surprises are hiding not only on top of it but underneath it (between that ideal environment of the moist tub floor and elevated suction cups).
5. Light switches
The act of turning lights on and off is so automatic that it’s easy to overlook their role in the germ department. However, one study found that nearly 113 colony-forming units of bacteria exist per square centimeter of hotel room light switches. Granted, this finding involved a hotel room, which may not undergo the thorough cleaning you do in your own home, but it’s safe to assume that between you, a spouse, children, and any friends or relatives that come in and out of your home, your own light switches are definitely not free of their own colony-forming bacteria units.
If you’ve ever joked about a friend who insists that people remove shoes at the front door, you might not find their request so funny after learning why it’s actually a good idea.
A variety of bacteria—all of which are found in fecal matter and linked to the urinary tract, bloodstream, and respiratory tract infections—likely exist on the bottom of your shoe on any given day. Experts say that this is because of all the places you walk, from public restrooms to parking lots. Public areas are ripe with human and animal fecal bacteria. Even more intriguing (and bothersome) is the fact that shoes are the perfect setting for bacteria growth since the bottom of shoes act as a kind of feeding ground that bacteria can use to continually thrive.
Many people assume that their own kitchen is a clean place. After all, countertops are wiped and dishes are either washed in the sink or stored in the dishwasher. Ah, if only this were the reality for everyone.
Let’s face it, not everyone tends to these matters promptly; we’re all probably guilty of letting dishes piling up in the sink or wiping a counter in haste. This can become such a habit that you might tend to accept it as the norm, but such slacking off means you’ve probably got germs galore in the kitchen area. From raw food particles that splatter underneath faucets to used utensils that sit in the sink for a couple of days, you can imagine the germ fest that’s brewing.
Do your best to keep your home (and hands) and clean as possible. Allow items to air out and breathe, wipe surfaces down with disinfecting wipes or even just soap and water, and be mindful of what you could be bringing in your home from the outside.
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