Perhaps you consider your house to be one of the cleanest around thanks to your dedicated and frequent home cleaning efforts. You are most likely very keen about not missing any not-so-obvious spots during your cleanup routine. Naturally your efforts won’t go unnoticed; many have commended your cleanliness and taken cues about things they can implement in their own homes.
That’s all well and good but you may be in for a shocker – simply because you may not be doing a good enough job in areas that cleaning experts have pinpointed as being the dirtiest places in homes. Don’t be too hard on yourself though; some of the most dirty places in your home may be the ones you least expect. Here are 20 such places:
Knobs, switches, handles and cabinet pulls
Knobs, switches and handles fit the description perfectly for ‘places frequently touched but infrequently cleaned, if ever’. Just pause and think about it: How frequently do you and the people in your home make contact with these surfaces? You’re right – too many times to count.
Stove knobs are easily some of the dirtiest places just because most of the efforts that go into cleaning a cooker merely focus on its top. The knobs are infrequently cleaned despite being the target of splattering food and unclean hands that are solely interested in preparing perfect meals. The required cleanup technique is rather simple: Just remove the knobs, wash them thoroughly in hot, soapy water, rinse them well, and ensure they are completely dry before reattaching them.
Light switches also need your regular attention, especially the one in your bathroom which is almost certainly always crawling with coliform bacteria. Use disposable disinfecting wipes to get rid of the dirt on each switch daily.
Door handles are some of the filthiest places you may be overlooking, perhaps because the contact is rather brief. Nothing could be farther from the truth; the live bacteria deposited there pose health threats for up to 24 hours. Disposable antibacterial wipes will do the job.
Despite your best efforts, your dog’s food and water bowls could still be among the more dirty places in your home. Pick up one of these ‘clean’ bowls and see whether it has a slimy surface. If it does then what you are seeing is referred to as biofilm aka “germy coating”.
Biofilm will be tough to get rid of, especially if it has been accumulating. You’ll need to scrub the bowls using salt and a dampened paper towel, and then disinfect them using a mild bleach solution. Do this in a bathroom or utility sink.
From then onwards ensure that you wash the bowls daily and, if possible, use ceramic or stainless steel bowls instead of plastic.
The toothbrush holder
During home cleaning one of the spots you shouldn’t overlook is the seemingly innocent toothbrush holder. Why? Simply because after rinsing off your toothbrush and standing it in the holder the remaining moisture and gunk mixture drip onto the holder’s bottom. Ensure that you wash it once or twice each week using warm soapy water or, in the dishwasher.
This important personal effect demands even more attention if only because it visits your mouth up to twice a day. The typical rinse-after-brushing and drying in an airy place are scarcely enough for achieving the level of cleanliness the toothbrush requires. Once a week you’ll need to dip the bristles in hydrogen peroxide followed by a hot water rinse.
The bin/trash can
However much you may want to believe that using bin liners has you covered here, you’re mistaken. This is another of the places that need your regular attention. Accordingly, use disinfecting wipes to kill the bacteria colonies on the lid every few days. Follow this up with a thorough monthly cleaning using bleach, and then leave it in the sun to ensure that it’s fully dry.
Tea towels and dish rags
You’re likely doing a good job replacing and washing your tea towels and dish rags every so often but the truth of the matter is that this frequency needs to increase to daily. Considering how much dirt these towels and rags accumulate within a short time, thanks to hand wiping, wiping up food spills, and the occasional dropping on the floor; etc. you can see that every fresh towel and rag rapidly becomes one of the dirtiest places in your home.
Refrigerator vegetable drawers
Every time you stash away vegetables and fruits in your refrigerator you are effectively depositing the colonies of microorganisms commonly found on fresh produce. These include Cyclospora, Listeria, Norovirus, E.Coli and Salmonella, as well as molds and yeasts. The pileup of such a lethal cocktail is obviously terrifying, so, all the more reason why these drawers need a regular thorough cleanup.
The washing machine
Today’s busy lifestyles often get the better of us and attention lapses are some of the more common consequences. This may have happened to you when you set out to wash some clothes and ended up leaving them in the machine, sometimes for days.
In such cases you need to be wary of possible germ accumulation and mold growth; such clothes must be thoroughly rewashed. In any case, always ensure that you promptly remove wet clothes after the load is complete. Also, regularly give the machine a thorough wipe down with a disinfecting wipe as part of your home cleaning routine.
The remote control
Just like the previously mentioned door knobs, remote controls are handled with amazing frequency. The various hands that touch them are in varying degrees of being dirty and you’ll certainly see evidence of this on a remote control that goes for long spells without a clean. A regular wipe down with an alcohol wipe will take the remote control off the ‘dirty places in your home’ list. Remember to clean the edges of each button.
The coffee maker
This is a vital kitchen accessory but one which doesn’t get as much cleaning attention as it deserves. Most people think that because they always wash the pot then all is well – it’s not. The water reservoir is what you’re forgetting; continued neglect of this typically dark and damp area makes for a thriving haven for all manner of germs.
For an effective cleanup begin by ensuring that you always wipe the reservoir using a paper towel every time you use the machine. Follow this up with a thorough monthly clean of the coffeepot and filter basket in the dishwasher. When doing this monthly cleaning fill the reservoir with four cups of white vinegar and run a brew cycle on the filter-less machine. Finally give the coffee maker a good rinse with 2-4 cycles of clean water i.e. enough to remove the smell of vinegar.
The cutting board
If you somehow get the chance to place your plastic cutting board under a microscope chances are that you’ll scream in horror. However clean they may appear when new within a short time they develop a rough surface; microscopic crevices where bacteria can thrive despite cleaning. Put simply, your board could be one of the more dirty places in your home.
Your solution is rather simple – replace the plastic board with a wooden one, preferably made of pine or oak whose natural antimicrobial qualities will work in your favor.
Don’t be shocked ladies; handbags are some of the filthiest places in your homes. Just think about all the places you set down your rarely cleaned handbags and you’re sure to agree: restroom floors, pub tables, car seats and/or floors, etc. The handles are especially dirty, not only from your hands but those of your child, boyfriend or husband, admiring friends, and so on. And don’t forget all the items you store in your bags and the frequency with which they are used and stored again.
The onus is on you to regularly empty each handbag and give its handles and interior a thorough disinfecting clean using an antibacterial wipe. Similarly wipe each of the contents before you return them to your handbag.
This also concerns the ladies, and rightly so considering how frequently makeup is handled. If you go for long stretches without cleaning your makeup, chances are that potentially harmful microbes, such as staphylococcus and E.coli will establish vibrant colonies, exposing you to the threat of skin infections and irritations.
As part of your home cleaning chores, regularly dedicate some time to misting your makeup and applicators with a strong solution of isopropyl alcohol (≥ 91%). Brushes should also be swirled in the same alcohol and then allowed to dry completely.
The family room and play room
The frequency with which these rooms are used and the sheer amount of time that visits may last makes them a prime contender for ‘top dirty places in your home’.
For the play room this can be quite understandable because it’s almost certain to get messy after the games are over. The dirt in here will likely be a mix of dust, perspiration and assorted debris. Your cleanup requirements will be somewhat clear-cut; just don’t forget that the toys should be thoroughly cleaned, too.
For the family room, where the activities are typically quite relaxed, your perception of cleanliness can be hastily undone if you were to conduct a thorough check.
The carpeting, for example, is a potential host for the stomach flu causing Norovirus, not to mention shards of dead skin, mold spores, dust, and dust mites.
The furniture upholstery shouldn’t fool you either; all the microbes deposited there as a result of sneezing, from dirty hands, perspiration, pet hairs and dander (material shed from the body of humans and various animals that have fur, hair, or feathers), as well as dust from feet and open windows; etc. need to purged out during a home cleaning.
Although you religiously wash and change your pillow cases this is hardly sufficient if you don’t do anything about the pillows. That pillow that you really love is very likely hosting numerous colonies of live bacteria, mold and yeast, as well as swarms of dust mites which keep multiplying as they feed on your dead skin cells. Experts suggest that the remains of dead dust mites can double the weight of your new 10-ounce pillow in three years if you don’t clean it – very scary indeed.
Accordingly, you are well advised to take your pillows to the drycleaner’s two or three times yearly. Also, get a change of pillows every 2-3 years.
Related: 10 Unique Gadgets for Home Cleaning
Bathmats and shower curtains
The liner part of your shower curtain is another top contender for filthiest places considering the ease with which bacteria and mildew can establish colonies there. Simply put, if you can’t stand mildew in grout and caulk, don’t tolerate it on the liner either. Give your shower curtain a regular machine wash and remember to use some bleach for the microbes.
Your bathmat’s proximity to the bathroom floor means that it’s readily accessible to bacteria, fungi, viruses and mildew. The solution is quite simple – buy the washable variety and thoroughly sanitize them monthly.
The toilet bowl
This is rather obvious and you’re likely doing a good job there. The not-so-obvious part, however, happens when you flush. Doing this with the toilet seat lid up allows for a fine mix of water and feces aka aerosol plume to be dispersed around the bathroom. This can land anywhere, including on your toothbrush if it’s nearby.
Your kitchen countertop has the rather unfortunate duty of bearing just about anything you bring into the kitchen, including your handbag, grocery bags, unwashed fruits and vegetables, raw meat, leftovers, towels and rags, the coffee maker, dirty utensils, and so on.
From what we’ve already covered you’ll readily agree that countertops are some of the dirtiest places in a home. Just to be safe, ensure that you wash yours with hot, soapy water once daily. Each month you should disinfect the surfaces with a bleach solution or a recommended sanitizing agent in case you have a countertop made from a special material like granite or marble.
The kitchen sink
Just because it holds and drains away water and soap doesn’t mean it’s clean. On the contrary, the sheer variety of stuff you put in it, from food scraps, to unwashed vegetables, to dirty utensils, implies that a quick wash won’t suffice.
The required cleanup should involve a bi-weekly disinfecting and cleaning as well as a thorough sanitizing of the drain by means of pouring a bleach solution into it.
The kitchen sponge
This is what you should pay the most attention to; it outranks most, if not all, of the dirtiest places in most homes. Moisture retention and the fact that kitchen sponges come into contact with just about anything that needs cleaning are the main reasons why they are so downright filthy.
Cleaning and sanitizing the sponge daily is therefore a non-negotiable obligation. To really get the job done you should also give it a two minutes spin in the microwave or throw it into the dishwasher with the utensils. It’s also best to replace it every two weeks.
Related: 9 Tips for an Easier Spring Cleaning