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Common Household Items That are Far Dirtier than Your Toilet Seat!

Common Household Items That are Far Dirtier than Your Toilet Seat!

If you were asked what common household item harbours the most germs, I think most people’s first guess would be the toilet seat, right? You might be surprised to learn that in fact, it’s not quite as bad as most people think (mainly because we do think it’s dirty so pour copious amounts of bleach down it and clean it often) and that there are many, many things around the home and office that are far worse for collecting bacteria. I have to admit to being a massive germ-o-phobe and whilst I was aware of a lot of these, I was surprised to learn just how gross some innocent appearing items, actually are.

Let’s start in the bathroom:

You stand innocently under the shower faucet each morning believing you are getting clean but what you don’t realise is that the inside of a shower head is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. I don’t think I’ll rinse my mouth out anymore while I’m in there…

The bathtub is another place to go to wash off the day’s grit but did you know the area around the drain can have up to 19,468 bacteria per square inch?

And your bathroom faucet is worse again! It can harbour 44 times the bacteria of the toilet seat (think dirty hands constantly touching it AFTER using the toilet). Disinfect and clean this regularly along with the sink and try and teach the family to turn the tap on with a wrist instead of a poopy hand.

Did anyone else see that episode of Myth Busters where they experimented with the amount of germs found on toothbrushes left in the open air in bathrooms? I did and you do NOT want to know what happens to all the wee and poo germs when you flush (way worse when you leave the lid open) but it was disgusting. Keep your toothbrush in the cupboard, not on the bench!

Heading to the bedroom:

The average person sheds about 1.5 million skin cells every hour (fun fact) landing on the carpet which enables 200,000 bacteria to live in each square inch of carpet. A regular vacuum obviously helps but best to get it professionally cleaned at least once a year. I am wayyyyyy overdue for that – where is my phone?

Another gross fact: your mattress will nearly double in weight after 10 years thanks to the dust mites and dust mite poo that collects on it. Vacuum your mattress every time you change the sheets!

Pillows are just as gross as the mattress with dead skin cells, dust mites, pollens and ahh, other body secretions landing on them regularly. Keep them covered with removable, washable pillow slips and replace these once a year. Writing pillows on shopping list as I speak…

Now let’s visit the kitchen!

Surprising-not-surprising the kitchen sink is dirtier than your entire bathroom put together. When you consider the half empty glasses, past its’ use-by date milk cartons, pan drippings and every other thing you can think of that gets poured down it, it’s kind of a no-brainer and even though we are also filling it with hot, sudsy water every day it’s best to give this a regular scrubbing and throw a bit of bleach down that skanky plug hole.

One of the worst offenders in the house is the humble dish cloth/mop/sponge and it used to do my head in watching people wash their coffee cups in the office kitchen with a sponge you knew had been there since 1970. No wonder there were always people off sick! Arizona researchers collected 1,000 dishcloths and sponges in kitchens, and found that 10 percent contained salmonella. Each square inch of their surfaces contains about 134,630 bacteria, 456 times the number on a toilet seat. Yuck! Replace these often or alternatively toss them in the washing machine,  or you can even microwave damp sponges or cloths for 30 seconds to kill the nasties. I know this, but I keep forgetting..

The average chopping board has 200 times more fecal bacteria than a toilet seat. A big culprit: raw meat. The grooves your knives leave in the cutting board make an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. Make sure you clean these scrupulously with liquid dish detergent and water, then soak thoroughly in a solution of 1 teaspoons bleach and 1 litre of water. For wooden boards, do the same but use 1 tablespoons of bleach per litre of water. And try and use separate chopping boards for bread, vegetables and meat. I get full-on feral crazy when someone uses the ‘meat’ board for anything else!

Time to check out some other common everyday items:

In many households the TV remote is pretty damn disgusting due to the many dirty little hands that are handling it.

Door knobs are also a huge culprit for germs given the amount of handling they receive on a daily basis. I am such a germ-o-phobe in public restrooms that I will use just about any body part I can muster to avoid touching them and if I have to, I will grab paper hand towels to open the door because no matter how clean your hands are when you’re finished, you can guarantee that there will be dozens of people that just. didn’t. wash. their hands. after. they. pooped.

Just like the door handles, light switches can harbour up to 217 bacteria per square inch.

Money: and is it any wonder. How many times has that coin or note changed hands before it ended up in yours? And where have those hands been and what have they been doing? You don’t want to know. Bank notes can have up to 200,000 bacteria. It’s a good idea to wash your hands after directly handling cash. Nothing worse than having the person who just made your sandwich take your money in the same gloved or un-gloved hands…Same goes for your EFTPOS card. Kinda gross when the butcher shoves a kilo of mince into a plastic bag then grabs your card with his meaty fingers and then hands it back to you. Eww. Just eww.Although good for the environment, your reusable shopping bags have more fecal matter than your underwear because you at least wash that on a regular basis and those bags see a lot of ick when they’re riding around in a shopping trolley or sat on the ground. Put them in the washing machine occasionally.

Another gross fact but there are on average, 100 times more bacteria on restaurant menus than on restroom toilet seats. Clearly it’s hard to avoid handling it to see what you want to order though. Where’s my hand sanitiser?

Don’t blame the dog for having one of the dirtiest items in the house; its’ dog bowl. Blame yourself for not washing it thoroughly everyday. Despite the fallacies that dog’s tongues have antiseptic properties (they don’t), they lick lots of gross things including themselves on a regular basis. Their bowls can hold up to 295 bacteria per square inch.

Make sure you wash those undies separately in HOT water or you could be transferring at least 100 million E. coli bacteria—the culprit behind diarrhea—to the washing machine, which becomes a breeding ground that can contaminate other clothing. And disinfect your washing machine on a regular basis by running it empty with 2 cups of bleach at least once a month. I thought it was just my husband’s socks that needed to be washed separately. In their own machine. In a different house. On a different planet. Hmm.

Phones and tablets are equally disgusting. Tablets can harbour up to 600 units of staphylococcus (also known as staph, which can cause severe stomach sickness) and the phones can have up to 140 units. Hands up who takes these devices into the toilet for something to read while you’re sitting down for a few minutes? Studies have shown that 75% of people do. Better to read a magazine instead. You know, like they did in the olden days.

Whilst YOUR keyboard at work might be relatively clean depending on your hand-washing routine and lack of eating while you work, it doesn’t mean your colleagues are so keep their grubby hands away from yours! When British researchers swabbed 33 keyboards in a London office, they found that they harbored up to five times the germs of a toilet seat.

Last but not least our handbags are also heaven for nasties to hang about in. The handles are the worst and are considered 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat. And so are some of the items inside; lipstick and hand creams snuggle up alongside those half used tissues you shoved in there and they’re hung on the back of toilet stall doors, they sit on restaurant floors etc. etc. Keep them off the ground and regularly wash or wipe them with disinfectant wipes.

Before I end this article, may I finish with one of my biggest pet peeves that happens at the supermarket to me constantly. And I don’t know if this is lack of training, forgetfulness or ignorance but the amount of times I have had raw meat put in the same grocery bag at the checkout with fresh food by the check-out person is astounding. Do they think that raw chicken breast is the same as a packet of sandwich ham? Just because they’re both ‘meat’ OR it goes in with milk, cheese and eggs because they’re all COLD. Such an incredible no-no when it comes to germs. One of the reasons I like using the self-serve. Just sayin’.

And remember everyone: wash those hands!!!

Carolyn Murphy

Carolyn Murphy

Carolyn Murphy is a married mother of three and regularly provides us with recipes and strange but true stories about her life. When she’s not here, she can also be found on her website where all her other recipes are located!

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