house cleaning

What's the dirtiest place in your house?

In 2011, NSF International, swabbed a "sticky note"-sized area of many commonly found items from the homes and cars of 22 volunteer families. Then, they examined these samples for Coliform bacteria (which includes Salmonella and E. coli) to identify the most germ-infested items we come in contact with daily. What they learned was not what most of us would expect.

And why is this so important? Because 80% of all food-related illnesses originate from inside the home!

Think you can guess the top 5 dirtiest items in most homes?

Below is a scrambled list of 5 items that research suggests are the filthiest things in the average home and 5 that are commonly among the cleanest.

Instructions: Sort (click, drag and drop) each item, arranging what you believe to be the 5 dirtiest on the left and the 5 cleanest on the right. Then, compare your selection to what the research found:

Drop 5 Dirtiest Items Here
Drop 5 Cleaner Items Here

:: Refrigerator handle

:: Dish sponge/rag

:: Bathroom light switch

:: Toothbrush holder

:: Coffee reservoir1

:: Money

:: Toilet handle

:: Kitchen sink

:: Pet bowl

:: Keyboard

1. Coffee reservoir is the top of a coffee maker where you add water and grounds.

Click to see the correct order of items and cleaning recommendations

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Feedback for the Dirtiest Items in Your HomeAdd Comment
KP in Miami
August 4, 2017
It is good to know that the germ scientist you mention above still recommends chlorine bleach, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide as the best sanitizers when cleaning around the house. I read recently that microwaving the kitchen sink sponge, with the intention of sanitizing it, actually makes the problem it worse. Who would have ever guessed that!
Charlotte at Florida Health
August 5, 2017
Thanks for your comment, KP. Perhaps this is the article you saw, about the microwave not being effective at killing germs: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/04/science/sponges-bacteria-microwaving-cleaning.html
It goes on to say that washing that sponge in the laundry machine or dishwasher, soaking it in vinegar or even cooking it on the stove are also ineffective. Their suggestion is to discard your old kitchen sink sponge each week or so and start fresh but, personally, i sure prefer using a dish scrub brush with plastic bristles.
TampaCamper
April 14, 2017
I wonder if they've done a similar study of hotel rooms?
Charlotte at Florida Health
April 15, 2017
Good question! The University of Houston did an often cited study on just that topic -- with the hopes that it could help hotels better identify and focus on those hotspots. And while most of us judge the cleanliness of a hotel room according to how it looks, they determined that this is not a good way of measuring sanitation.

Turns out, some of the dirtiest items in hotel rooms are the cleaning related: maid's cart, mops and sponges... which means the germs constantly get transferred from room to room. Also near the top of their germiest items list is bathroom sinks, toilets, bedside lamp switch and TV remotes. Most surprisingly, bathroom door handles averaged out to be one of the least germ-contaminated hotel room items.

And as for your office, the germiest items tend to be 1) the phone, 2) desktop, 3) keyboard, and 4) computer mouse. The cleanest tends to be, once again, the toilet seat!
 
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