We vacuum the carpets and dust the tabletops, but is that’s not enough to keep the house clean. Even a seemingly spotless room can still have millions of viruses and bacteria. And the scary thing is, these disease-causing critters tend to multiply in the last places we think to check. You thought the toilet bowl was the dirtiest part of the house? Actually, the bathroom mat has a hundred times more microorganisms. So does your toothbrush (which you put in your mouth!) and the bathroom door knob.
Here are some of the ‘germ traps’ in your room, plus tips on how to get rid of the microorganisms that can make you and your family sick.
1. The can opener
Many of us just rinse the can opener, if we even remember to clean it at all! However, food particles can cling to the knobs, attracting bacteria, and then transferring it to the next can of food we open. So, scrub the can opener with soap (use an old tooth brush to get into those hard-to-reach corners) and rinse in hot water.
2. The kitchen sink and counter
Wiping it with an old rag just isn’t enough. You need to pour a 10% bleach solution (mix 1 part bleach to 9 parts water). This is especially important after placing raw meat on top of it (which usually happens when we defrost).
3. Cutting boards
Very small particles of meat and blood can cling to cutting boards. Wash with 10% bleach solution. To prevent cross-contamination, use separate cutting boards for vegetables, fish and meat, and chicken.
4. Waste baskets
Yes, these keep garbage out of sight, but imagine the bacteria that collects underneath its covers. Clean waste baskets with 10% bleach solution every three days. Allow the solution sit in it for five minutes, then rinse under running water. Air-dry under the sun. This also gives you a chance to scrub the floor underneath it.
5. Kitchen sponge
The kitchen sponge hides food particles, oils, and is often damp—the perfect breeding ground for bacteria! Regularly clean sponges in 10% bleach solution, and use different ones for washing utensils and wiping the sink. You can also kill germs by microwaving kitchen sponges for three minutes at the highest possible setting.
6. Bar soap
Here’s one reason to switch to liquid soap! Cockroaches like to crawl on bar soap and can even live off soap scum. If you must use bar soap, place it in a covered container and drain it regularly of soap scum.
Cockroaches can crawl on the bathroom counter, and your toothbrush! It’s best to store toothbrushes in your bathroom cabinet, or buy those that come in caps. Also keep toothbrushes away from the toilet bowl. Some commodes can send spray droplets up to as much as 20 feet. Next time, close the lid when you flush!
Do clean your mops regularly, or you’re just spreading germs from one room to another. Disinfect them in a 10% bleach solution and leave them to dry completely in the sun. you may also want to keep separate mops for your living room and kitchen, or clean the areas on different days.
9. Bathroom and kitchen mats
Mats can get damp. If they’re made of cloth, bacteria can collect in the fibers. If they’re made of plastic, mold can grow underneath. That’s why you need to wash your mats regularly, and air-dry in the sun.
10. The telephone
One study by the University of Arizona shows that the telephone has the highest concentration of germs in the home and office. People can cough into the receiver, or spray invisible amounts of saliva when they talk. Wipe the mouth piece with a ball of cotton dipped into alcohol—especially if somebody in the house is sick!
<h5.11. The remote control and game controllers
We don’t think to wash their hands before they sit down and watch television. So, each time we pick up germs from the rest of the house (the kitchen counter, the phone, the door knob) or stop to pet our dog or blow our nose in the middle of watching a show, we transfer microorganisms.
We can’t wash the remote or the controller, so use baby wipes instead. Also, keep hand sanitizers on the coffee table or side table.
12. Door knob
Everyone touches the door knob, so consider it your home’s ‘germ central.’ In fact, it’s probably one of the ways viruses spread through a family. Your son rides the school bus home, and sits next to someone who has a cold. His hands pick up the virus from the railing on the backseat. When he gets home, he opens the door, transferring the virus to the door knob. His sister walks in a few minutes later, closes the door, picks up the virus. Then, she absent-mindedly put her hands to her lips while she’s eating a bag of chips.
One way to prevent this cross contamination is to wipe the doorknob with a rag that’s been moistened with alcohol. However, it’s also important to teach family members to wash hands before eating, and avoid habits like biting nails or nibbling on one’s fingers.