Top 10 Places That Germs Lurk in Your Home

Seeing that people recuperating from a total knee replacement have a compromised immune system, I thought it was appropriate to recirculate this informative article titled ‘Top Ten Places That Germs Lurk in Your Home.’ It is also cold and flu season for everyone. This information has been on WebMD.com, Weather Channel, and other sites.

Got misophobia? You’re not alone. Fear of germs is common and can increase as busy schedules make cleaning time scarce, putting the most fastidious housekeeper on edge. To quell that fear of germs, it helps to know where the germs in your home hide — and the most important places to clean.

While researchers who track germs don’t agree 100%, here are 10 top places where germs lurk in your home- some probably surprising even to Martha Stewart. Let’s also learn how to send the bugs packing.

1. Germs Lurk in Your Home in your Kitchen Sponges
A kitchen sponge can carry more than 134,000 bacteria per square inch, according to a 2007 survey funded by Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of Lysol, and performed by the Hygiene Council. Researchers swabbed 35 U.S. homes for bacteria in 32 different sites.

What makes a sponge so buggy? Using sponges for more than one purpose is common, and people tend to keep their sponges too long, allowing bacteria to multiply, says Kelly Bright, PhD, assistant research scientist at the University of Arizona. “It’s a moist environment, and a sponge is a nice breeding ground.”

Cross-contamination of sponges is common, Bright tells WebMD. You cut raw meat, wipe it up, then prepare another dish and wipe with the same sponge. On a typical sponge you’re likely to find Salmonella (which can cause food-borne illness) and Campylobacter, which can cause diarrhea and abdominal pain, Bright says.

Remedy:
Replace your sponge once a week or so, Bright suggests. Or put it in the dishwasher regularly or soak it in bleach for about 15 minutes. “The dirtier the sponge, the longer you have to soak it to be effective.”

2. Kitchen Sink
Whether empty or full of dishes, the kitchen sink is a germ hot spot, says Bright. “People do a lot of food preparation there,” and that food can lead to contamination, with kitchen drains having more than 500,000 bacteria per square inch, according to the Hygiene Council survey.

Remedy: If you think the last bit of soap suds from washing dishes will take care of things, think again, says Philip Tierno, Jr., PhD, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at Tisch Hospital, New York University Medical Center, and associate professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU School of Medicine.

“Soap doesn’t kill bacteria,” says Tierno, the U.S. representative for the Hygiene Council. His favorite cleaning solution: bleach and water. The FDA suggests kitchen sanitizers or a homemade solution of one teaspoon chlorine bleach in a quart of water, then letting it sit on the surface you’re cleaning for 10 minutes.

3. Germs Lurk in Your Home Here: Faucet Handles
Both bathroom and kitchen faucet handles are germ-catchers. In the Hygiene Council survey, kitchen faucet handles carried more than 13,000 bacteria per square inch and bathroom faucet handles had more than 6,000 bugs per square inch.

Remedy: “Use a disinfectant cleaner spray every time you clean up,” suggests Charles Gerba, PhD, professor of soil, water and environmental science at the University of Arizona, who has researched microbes extensively. In the kitchen, that should be once a day, he says. In the bathroom, at least once a week.

4. Germs Also Lurk in Your Home Here: Home Offices
Surprise: your home office is germier than the typical work office, says Gerba. In a recent study, he compared the average number of bacteria in work and home office to find the numbers of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can cause serious skin infections.

In his sampling of 60 home offices and 91 work offices, five sites were tested in each. MRSA was isolated in 15 home offices but no work offices. And overall, more bacteria were found in home offices than work offices. Germiest spots in the home office were the keyboard, mouse, phone, and desktop.

“Probably people eat more in the home office,” Gerba says, partially explaining the larger bug population. “You turn your desk into a bacteria cafeteria.”

Remedy: “Use disinfectant at least once a week” on home office surfaces, suggests Gerba.

5. Toilet Bowl
Not surprisingly, the top germ winner in the Hygiene Council survey was the toilet bowl (but not the seat) with 3.2 million bacteria per square inch. Still, Gerba insists, kitchens are dirtier overall. “There are about 200 times more fecal bacteria on a cutting board,” he says, “than on a toilet seat.”

Remedy: Toilet bowl germs form a biofilm, that slimy layer that develops when bacteria attach to a support such as the bowl, says Tierno. Tackle that film with your chlorine bleach and water solution.

6. Germs Lurk in Your Home Here: Bathtub
Never mind that you think the bubble bath left you and your tub squeaky clean. Lurking near the drain of the bathtub is nearly 120,000 bacteria per square inch, according to calculations made in the Hygiene Council Survey.

Remedy: Give your bathtub a buff with bath cleaner or a chlorine-water cleaning solution mixed up at home.

7. Germs in Your Home: Shower Curtain
The crud or soap scum that collects on your shower curtain probably Sphingomonas and Methylobacterium bacteria,says Norman Pace, PhD, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, University of Colorado, who collected biofilm from four vinyl shower curtains that had been in place more than six months in Boulder-area homes.

They found an abundance of Sphingomonas and Methylobacterium bacteria, and both could pose a problem for people who are immune-compromised, such as those who are HIV positive, or who have other diseases that make them prone to infections.

Remedy: Regular cleaning or replacement of the curtains is advised.

8. Germs in Your Home: Wet Laundry
What are germs doing in your washing machine? Probably contaminating other clothes. A load of just-washed clothes may look sparkling clean, but guess again.

Researchers at the University of Arizona found that intestinal viruses like hepatitis A are readily transferred from contaminated clothes to uncontaminated clothing during the washing.

Remedy: Bleach and drying time. The use of bleach reduced the number of infectious viruses on swatches after washing and drying by nearly 100%, the researchers found. Putting clothes through the drying cycle helped reduce viruses, too, according to Bright, and a hot water wash is good. “If you use the dryer, put it on hot,” she says, to kill remaining germs. And “separate adult clothes from kids’ clothes.”

9. Germs in Your Home: Vacuum Cleaner
It’s supposed to clean, but your vacuum cleaner is also a source of contamination, Gerba tells WebMD. “We looked at 30 vacuum brushes. € Fifty percent contained coliform fecal bacteria and 13% E. coli,” says Gerba. E. coli can cause diarrhea and other health problems. Coliform bacteria don’t typically cause illness, but are often found in the presence of other disease-causing organisms. “Vacuums become meals on wheels” for the bugs, Gerba says.

Remedy: “There’s not much you can do about the brush,” he says. “Vacuum the cleanest areas first and the dirtiest last,” he suggests. That way, you’ll be less likely to spread around as much bacteria. And if you use a bagless vacuum cleaner, wash your hands afterward, since bacteria can remain in the receptacle.

10. Finally, Germs Lurk in Your Home Here: Beds
Mattresses and pillows provide food for dust mites, Tierno tells WebMD, and bedding can also be a reservoir for molds and spores. “In the mattress core there are all sorts of human secretions and excretions,” he says. “Fecal matter as well as sweat and semen.” What’s the problem? “Bedroom debris is probably one of the biggest causes of allergic rhinitis,” Tierno says. “Allergy from dust mites is also a problem.”

Remedy: Place an “impervious” outer cover over the mattresses and pillows, Tierno says, to keep the debris contained. Then wash bedding regularly in water hot enough to kill the bugs.

Hope this information helps you learn more about protecting your health by knowing places where germs lurk in your home.

Find interesting? Kindly share…

AUTHOR NOTE: Booktoots’ Healing helps total knee replacement patients find support throughout recuperation and beyond. Its mission is for patients to understand they are not alone in their ordeal with either a tkr or other physicality concerns.

This site is owned and operated by Marie Buckner, a published author and tkr patient who has been living with various physicalities for over 40+ years. She enjoys sharing her experiences to help others going through the same thing.






Medical Profession's Arrogance

There is one thing that I am certain about. I know how to tell when my body is imbalanced. If I hear one more doctor tell me that I’m not nauseated or having breathing difficulties because of the prescriptions they give me – I’m going to smack them silly. Their arrogance is totally appalling. How dare they.

Throughout my total knee replacement process, I have been prescribed a multitude of pain meds. I, generally, am healthy. I do not take any prescriptions for anything. All pain meds during this time period have given me difficulty. They are the only change to my body’s physiology.

The arrogance of Western medicine’s doctors is so infuriating, annoying and totally frustrating. How dare they talk down to me as if I’m a total idiot. “Have you read the PDR?” (yes, I have). “Nausea and light headedness are listed for each medication,” I have been told. So….?…..Or…

“Getting nauseated or having a hard time breathing are SO RARELY caused by pain meds…..it must be something else.” I actually heard. I could have smacked his arrogant face. How dare he.

Upon telling my surgeon that Coumadin caused me to be light-headed and nauseated…..”It can’t be from the Coumadin. I haven’t seen that in all my 30 years of prescribing it.” So……I don’t care what everyone else does. I know how I feel.
This happened during my pre-op visit….Upon telling my surgeon that I have nerve damage causing extreme pain, he actually argued with me. “I’ve never heard of anyone having nerve damage needing a total knee replacement. There’s just something wrong with that.” I know the pain and tingling I was going through. So, what did I hear after the surgery?…..

“You have extensive nerve damage all along the inner and outer portion of your leg.” Gee, thanks doc. Thanks for arguing with me in the first place. I needed to waste my energy like that.

Getting pain meds is another issue. Why do patients have to beg for them? “Rate your pain from 0-10”. It always depends.

Enough of my ramblings for now. It’s all tied into my book writing project about my car accident leaving me in a body cast for two years. I’m going to bed. I’m pooped.

Back At It

Well, after undergoing a total knee replacement, I’m back at it – working on my blog with my laptop. There will be plenty of time to write for the next few weeks. 🙂 

My surgery was done at Virginia Mason in Seattle and I highly recommend them. I found them to be efficient, excellent communicators, and genuinely concerned about my well being. Plus, they are noted to be in the top 5% of hospitals nationwide for excellence in total knee replacement surgery. I can see why.

My back at it means that in addition to writing on my book project, I have been keeping a medical log/journal of activities leading up to my knee surgery.

Logs are a great way to get things in writing, stay on track, and also notice changes (if any). Everything in my log is factual – with dates, times, and methods involved.  Plus, journals can easily be turned into books. Hmm..

Til we meet again….

Find interesting? Kindly share…

AUTHOR NOTE: Booktoots’ Healing helps total knee replacement patients find support throughout recuperation and beyond. Its mission is for patients to understand they are not alone in their ordeal with either a tkr or other physicality concerns.

This site is owned and operated by Marie Buckner, a published author and tkr patient who has been living with various physicalities for over 30+ years. She enjoys sharing her experiences to help others going through the same thing.