11 dirty places germs hide in your home (and what you can do to protect yourself)
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Are you washing your hands every 10 minutes right now? Us too. But even if your hands are scrubbed flawlessly, you could still be surrounded by lingering germs all over your home. 

According to a study about household health and safety, more than 340 different bacteria on 30 different items can be found in one home (yuck). From light switches to purse pockets, thriving environments for bacteria hide in some of the most unsuspecting places.

So turn your favorite cleaning playlist on full blast and throw on your comfiest sweats because you’re about to get seriously inspired to ward off some germs!  Here are 11 dirty places germs hide in your home + tips of how you can protect yourself against them. 

11 dirty places germs hide in your home (and what you can do to protect yourself)

1. Door knobs

When a door knob is dirty, chances are, lots of other hidden germs are creeping around. This is because every time you open or close a door, you’re essentially spreading the germs from the knob to everything else you touch. Pretty gross! It’s good to make it a habit to wipe down your door knobs about twice a week (more if someone in your house is feeling sick).

How to clean germs

Cleaning tip: Depending upon your door knobs, a wet rag with soap and water can usually do the trick. Another option, these biodegradable wipes from Aunt Fannie’s or these compostable wipes from GreenWorks are good options.

2. Handles and switches

how to clean germs

Much like door knobs, light switches and handles are things we often touch without thinking about. And according to Health Line, they’re some of the dirtiest places in the home. 

Cleaning tip: Be sure to use a new wipe or cloth every time you clean a switch or knob. You’ll avoid spreading germs from one nightstand handle to a kitchen cupboard handle. 

3. Cellphones

We’re cringing as we write this, but studies show that cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats (ew). Considering most Americans check their phones 47 times every day, that’s a lot of potential opportunities for the germs to find their way onto our skin. Here’s what Apple recommends: use a soft cloth or disinfecting wipe *gently* on your device, while avoiding excessive wiping and moisture.

Insider’s tip: Pela Case is making our germ-free dreams come true by giving an extra case FREE with every order. 

Their “wear one, wash one” campaign means we always have one super clean spare ready to go (and we don’t have to worry about carrying around a hub of germs in our palms and pockets)! Plus, it’s fun to switch things up every once in a while, just sayin. 

Pela Case buy one, get one free

Also, if you’re not already a proud Pela Case owner, the cases are 100% compostable. And we love their Pela Cycle Program, which accepts old Pela cases and then recycles them to make new products.

Cleaning tip: Avoid taking your phone into the bathroom. As TIME reports, “When toilets flush, they spread germs everywhere, which is how phones end up with fecal bacteria like E. coli.” 🤢

4. Makeup brushes

If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your makeup brushes, you’re probably overdue! A lot of gross things can happen when makeup brushes aren’t washed regularly. We’re talking bacteria build up, infections, and even bug infestations (!!!). To be safe, The American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing brushes every 7 to 10 days. 

how to get rid of germs

Cleaning tip: Wash brushes with room temperature water and soap. But instead of letting them air dry on a towel, have the bristles hang off the edge of the counter. This helps avoid getting mildewy bristles.

5. Keyboards 

Research shows that a computer or laptop keyboard is 20,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat. (Brb, going to wipe down this laptop real quick!) As inconvenient as it may be, it’s wise to turn off your computer before wiping it down with a soft damp cloth.

how to get rid of germs

Cleaning tip: Use an old toothbrush to scrub those tiny spots in between keys.

6. Reusable totes, makeup + gym bags

We love our reusable totes. And our cute little makeup and gym bags bring us so much joy. But all the little nooks and crannies are thriving pockets for bacteria.

how to hide germs
Cleaning tip: Throw bags in the washing machine or clean them with good ol’ soap and water! Pay extra attention to the inside of pockets and straps. 

7. Sponges

Sponges are called everything from “fecal germ bombs” to “bacteria hotbed(s).” We could cite a bunch of disturbing statistics about the germiness of sponges, but we think you get the point: sponges can be really, really nasty.

Cleaning tip: We’re fans of totally ditching sponges altogether and using reusable cloths, cleaning brushes, or even our hands with soap and water. Otherwise, you’ll probably be better off ditching your sponge every week and replacing it with a new one. While it’s not eco-friendly, it is more hygienic for you and anyone else in your home. (PS, microwaving sponges is NOT something we’d recommend.)

8. Pet toys and bowls

How to get rid of germs

Our animal friends deserve clean environments too! And just think about it, if your pet’s toys and bowls are packed with bacteria —  it’s likely those are germs are getting all over the place (hello, cuddle sessions on the couch and paws everywhere).

We typically soak rubber, silicone, and nylon toys in vinegar and warm water solution for about 10 minutes, and then gently scrub them with a cleaning brush. As for plush toys, those can be thrown in the washing machine (consider sprinkling in some vinegar and baking soda, too).

Cleaning tips: VetStreet recommends cleaning pet dishes after every meal with hot water and soap

9. Cutting boards

We don’t know about you but cutting boards get used a lot in our kitchens. And since we’re chopping lots of veggie and fruit yumminess on them, we definitely want them to be clean slates. 

how to get rid of germs

The best way to minimize germ buildup on your cutting boards is to choose wood boards, rather than plastic boards, and wash them after each use with hot water and soap. 

Cleaning tip: Give a little extra attention to areas with knife marks and scratches, as germs can find their way into those spots. 

10. Washing machines

From E. coli to salmonella, lots of bacteria can hide in the machines we use to clean our clothes. And unfortunately,  this build up of germs can be completely invisible — although, it may start to smell.

According to the Today show, the best way to clean the machine is by adding two cups of white cleaning vinegar on the hottest temperature and running it through a full cycle. Then, run another cycle after adding a 1/2 cup of baking soda.

11. Shower curtains

Since showers are places we go to get clean, we definitely don’t want to think about germy spots lingering around in between shampoo and conditioner washes. But unfortunately, our shower curtains can carry lots of gross bacteria — and especially if you have a patterned curtain, it can be hard to spot those dirty areas. 

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Cleaning tip: Throw the curtain into your washing machine with a 1/2 cup of baking soda. And then add about a cup of distilled white vinegar during the rinse cycle. Hang dry and you’re good to go! 

Check out more ways to keep you and your home as clean as can be:

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