What do you think is the dirtiest, most germ-infested spot in your house?

Most people would probably say it’s the toilet. But surprisingly, experts from NSF International, an independent public health organization, found out that it doesn’t even make the top 10. In the study to check the “germiest places in the home,” researchers found out that the most bacteria is actually found in the places where food preparation is done.

The dirt on dirty spots

Misconceptions like the one mentioned above, about which parts could be the dirtiest in homes, are prevalent. However, there is a huge gap in perception versus reality when actual tests are conducted.

In the volunteer homes where common household items were swabbed for testing, the ones that the homeowners thought would harbor the most amount of germs did not turn up to be true. Instead, those items and spots that are usually overlooked – like the kitchen sink and coffee reservoirs – ended up in the dirtiest list.

According to the study, breeding grounds for germs are the wet, warm and moist places in your home. Dish sponges and rags ranked first, testing positive for the presence of organisms such as yeast or molds (86 percent), Coliform (77 percent), and Staphylococcus aureus (18 percent).

In contrast, surfaces that are cold and smooth tend to harbor fewer germs.

If you’re a parent, you’re most likely in a panic while reading this. From employing a full-time maid to spraying every inch with disinfectant, you are most probably thinking of the many ways you can protect your child from touching or going to these spots.

Here are some of the items that you would want to clean to make it safer for your child to touch:

1. Kitchen counter

Yes, that counter where you prepare food and chat with your kid while they’re doing their homework ranked among the dirtiest. The study found that 32 percent of countertops harbored Coliform bacteria while 18 percent had molds.

To clean countertops, rinse with a diluted bleach and water solution before and after preparing food. Make sure to check though if your counter is made of specific materials that require special care.

2. Toothbrush holder

You might be cringing to know that the very item that holds objects you put in your mouth and use for cleaning your teeth harbors disease-carrying organisms. In the study, 64 percent of toothbrush holders contain yeast/mold and 27 percent are home to Coliform bacteria. This could be because most toothbrush holders are located so close to the toilet where one flush can release fecal-containing aerosols.

To reduce the risk of bacteria in toothbrush holders, wash with soapy water at least twice a week or toss it in the dishwasher if it’s safe to do so.

3. Pet toys

Your heart may melt every time you see your kid and your furry friend playing together. Just make sure that that tennis ball they’re playing catch and fetch with is clean and sterilized.

In the study, 57 percent of pet toys like balls or chewables contain yeast or molds. What’s more disconcerting is that it also harbors potentially dangerous Staph (24 percent) and Coliform (14 percent) bacteria. In fact, these types of pet toys have the highest amount of Staph found in household items.

For hard pet toys, scrub it with soap and water (and a mild bleach, if allowed). For soft toys, throw it in the washing machine (do not mix with other items such as clothes, beddings, etc.).

4. Remote control

When you do allow your kids to get hold of the remote control, make sure it’s nice and clean. More than half (55 percent) of these handy gadgets in the study contained yeast or molds, which can cause kids to get sick.

To clean remote controls, remove the batteries first. Get a Q-tip and soak it in soapy water. Use the Q-tip to clean around the buttons. Wipe the rest of the area with a clean cloth. You can then put back the batteries, and get ready to switch on your favorite kiddie show with your tot.

5. Video game controller

Much like the remote control, this tech tool comes with a serving of germs if not maintained properly. Based on the study results, 59 percent of video game controllers harbor yeast or mold and 14 percent are positive for Staph. This is bothersome to think of when your kids’ hands are glued to these devices during their allowed time.

Make sure to inform your house cleaner or even your kid (if he’s old enough to handle cleaning agents) to clean the controller regularly to prevent dirt build up. To clean, make a 50-50 solution of rubbing alcohol and water. Dip a clean cloth in the solution. Making sure that there’s no excess fluid, wipe the controller in circular motions to get rid of tougher stains or dirt. Use a Q-tip to clean around the buttons or crevices that are hard to reach with the cloth. Remember to remove the batteries or unplug first before cleaning.

To reduce germs in these hotspots, have them cleaned as often as possible. Make sure the rest of the house is deep cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis by getting help from reputable professional cleaners. When it comes to the safety, health and well-being of you and your loved ones, it is always worth investing only in the services of trusted experts.

Dirty, disease-carrying germs have no place in your living spaces. With an experienced home cleaning team, you can transform your home into a lovely, healthy and clean haven for you and your family.

Author’s Bio: Rania Bellos launched Dust Busters Cleaning Services with the help and support of her husband after spending 15 years working in the banking and finance industry in France, Lebanon and the UAE. She welcomes the daily challenges and exciting opportunities provided by the highly competitive residential and commercial cleaning services market.

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