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The Dirtiest Spot in a Home Isn’t Where You Think

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

A new study reveals that the kitchen is the “germiest” place in a home–not the bathroom, as most people would assume. That’s right, the place where you are cooking and eating food is where levels of coliform bacteria (a bacteria that includes Salmonella and E.coli) and Staph bacteria is the most prevalent, even more so than items in a bathroom.

A study by NSF International, a public health and safety organization, uncovers the top 10 germ hot-spots and dangers in a home based on a swab analysis of 30 everyday household items in 22 different homes.

You might want to take a double-look at that kitchen sponge you use to clean dishes and countertops. That actually was the leading culprit of germs in the kitchen.

“Sponges pick up bacteria during the cleaning process and are typically not properly–or regularly–sanitized before their next use,” says Rob Donofrio, director of Microbiology at NSF International and lead researcher for the study. “Additionally, sponges are often wet and left in damp areas in or near the sink, providing optimal conditions for germ growth. They also have many nooks and crannies which can be great places for germs to multiply.”

The second overall germiest place in a home is …. the bathroom, particularly the toothbrush holder. Why the toothbrush holder and, say, not the toilet?

“The high bacteria levels on and in the toothbrush holder are likely attributed to two causes. First, toothbrush holders are typically situated near the toilet, especially in smaller bathrooms. Flushing of the toilet causes aerosols, containing fecal bacteria, to land on items near the toilet, thereby potentially contaminating the holder,” Donofrio says. “Additionally, toothbrush holders often are neglected in the cleaning process, providing an ideal breeding ground for germs. Toothbrush holders should be regularly cleaned in the dishwasher.”

Top 10 Germiest Places in a Home

The following are the germiest items in the house, ranked from highest to lowest in germ count:

1. Dish sponge/rag

2. Kitchen sink

3. Toothbrush holder

4. Pet bowl

5. Coffee maker reservoir

6. Bathroom faucet handle

7. Pet toy

8. Kitchen countertop

9. Stove knobs

10. Cutting board

Time to get scrubbing! To get tips on how to keep household items and surfaces clean, visit NSF’s International Germs in the Home section.

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