Five unlikely things in your house filthier than your toilet seat

Recently, an article about the germs in a human beard made hipsters and mountain men around the world cringe in fear. But when we generally think of germs, the first thing that comes to mind is the toilet seat, because, of course.

But that widely-believed tale is just what it is — a tale. Germs live everywhere, and in some places, they thrive. Often, it’s not the toilet seat that’s the most germ-infested place in sight.

Here are some things around your house that contain more germs than a toilet seat.

1. Keyboard

The fact that the keyboard contains more germs than a toilet seat may not come as a big surprise to people, because truth be told, how many of us actually bother disinfecting our keyboards?

Studies have shown that keyboards contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning, such as E.coli and staphylococcus aureus (staph). Researchers did a swab analysis, and found  that one swab on a keyboard contained 7,500 bacteria, compared to an average toilet seat which had 5,400 bacteria per swab.

Regular trips to the bathroom while using the computer contribute to the increase in bacteria on our keyboards. Snacking at your desk is also one way germs travel to your keyboard. To test if your keyboard is dirty, try this CyberClean test.

How to clean:

To keep your keyboards clean, one can practice good desk hygiene such as cleaning keyboards regularly and washing hands before using computers. Avoid eating at your desk, but if you do, turn your keyboard upside down to dislodge crumbs that may have fallen into the crevices between the keys. You can get more tips on how to disinfect your keyboard on CNet.

2. Smartphone/Tablet

Besides your computers, the other thing you spend the most time on is your smartphone. You may not know it, but germs are crawling all over the screen, just waiting for the right moment to attack.

Researchers who tested smartphones and tablets found that one iPad had 600 units of staph. Perhaps a big contributing factor to the high level of bacteria on smart gadgets is that many people bring them into the bathroom.

How to clean:

To lower the risk of bacteria lurking in your smart gadgets, clean your gadgets regularly and avoid bringing them with you into the bathroom. That’s what the pause button is for on your videos after all.

3. “Clean” laundry

The fact that there may be germs on “clean” laundry may raise eyebrows, because they’re, well, clean.

But think about it – do you habitually clean the washing machine after washing your clothes? When you wash your dirty laundry, you transfer about 500 million E. coli bacteria from the clothes into the machine. Plus, if it collects leftover water from a previous wash, your “cleaning” machine becomes a germ party. Imagine washing your clothes in that.

How to clean:

To prevent that from happening, you can try separating your colours and whites, and wash the whites first. Once that is done, you can sanitise the washing machine using chlorine bleach. When washing underwear, wash with hot water with a colour-safe bleach. Another tip is to bleach your washing machine with an empty cycle monthly.

4. Kitchen sponge

Surprise! The kitchen sponge is probably the dirtiest thing in the kitchen. The sponge is damp most of the time and comes into contact with germs the most, making it the best place for germs to breed. Moisture and a high amount of bacteria equal the best time ever for germs.

Scientists took swabs from 30 different surfaces in 22 homes and found that the kitchen sponge contained more germs than the toilet seat or bathroom faucet. Over 75 per cent of sponges had coliform bacteria, and 18 per cent had staph germs. Yikes!

How to clean:

To kill the germs in the sponge, you can microwave it for one minute. Make sure it’s wet when you do that. You can also try using dishcloths instead as those are easier to throw into the washing machine. A good do-it-yourself tip from LifeHacker is to cut a hole in the middle of the sponge that’s slightly smaller than your faucet. Then, slip the sponge on to the handle and that’s how you keep it dry!

5. Cutting board

Cutting boards come into contact with raw meat the most, and that’s where the problem lies.

Studies have shown that the amount of faecal bacteria on an average cutting board is about 200 times more than that on a toilet seat. A lot of faecal bacteria originate from raw meat products. When you cut vegetable on the same cutting board as the one you use for raw meat, you run the risk of cross-contamination.

How to clean:

They are several ways to clean a cutting board. If you’re using a wooden board, cleaning using lemon and salt is a good method, as they can get into the crevices caused by your knife where most bacteria lie. Other household items such as vinegar and baking soda also help to disinfect your cutting board. Another method is to allocate different cutting boards for different food products. Lastly, always ensure that you wash your cutting board after every use.

Lesson learned: Always wash your hands.


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