The kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom are the three rooms we want to be the safest — but if you’re not cleaning their surfaces the right way, they could be teeming with harmful bacteria and mold.[related]
Most people have a weekly rotation for typical household cleaning. You probably remember to vacuum, run your dishwasher, and wipe down your kitchen counter on the regular. But caught up in your typical routine, there are a few areas of your home that tend to get neglected.
Some of these among are the most dangerous places to leave untouched. Your coffee maker, for instance, gets used every morning. If it’s been growing colonies of mold, you’re endangering yourself and your family every time you pour your morning brew.
Recent studies have found that many places and things around your house are way grosser than you think. Your kitchen, in particular, is home to viruses, bacteria, and other spreading dangers; you’re most likely preparing and eating your food in a danger zone.
We’ve found the grossest, dirtiest corners of your home that you've probably forgotten about, and reminding you: You should really be cleaning these 15 places and things.
Whether you use it to break open a can of beans or a can of tomatoes, we’re about to open a can of worms by telling you that this this tiny kitchen tool can get really filthy. You’ve been touching the handle of that thing again and again, and you’ve probably only been rinsing it with water to clean the gunk off the blade. But think about all that bacteria from your hands that are festering on the handle. Throw your can opener in the dishwasher every now and then.
Inside that steamy machine is a cavern of coffee residue. A dark, damp place is the ideal breeding ground for mold. Luckily, these machines are easy to clean. Simply pour equal parts water and vinegar into the reservoir, let it sit for 30 minutes, then turn the coffee maker on and let the vinegar solution drip out. Run a cycle of plain water through before brewing another pot of coffee.
Sure, your dishes are clean when you’re placing them there. But do you ever bother to clean the rack you’re drying them on? A dirty dish rack undoes all the effort you went to washing your dishes in the first place. Take to it with a sponge or spray on some disinfectant (after you've put the dishes away).
We know the ice at restaurants is swarming with E. coli, but what about the ice you’re making in your own home? If you aren’t cleaning your ice tray, you’re just as bad. Even though all you’re putting in the tray is water, you’re still touching that piece of plastic with your dirty hands every time you make yourself a drink.
You might think a dishwasher should clean itself — after all, it’s being washed and rinsed every time you run the machine! But tiny pieces of food, grease, and soap scum can’t be washed away by those gusts of hot water and dish soap. That’s going to take some elbow grease to scrub off. Leaving the gunk to accumulate over time can make your dishwasher less effective, while emitting an odor you definitely don’t want in your kitchen.
In addition to all the particles that could get tossed around a dishwasher, your kitchen sink accumulates all kinds of byproducts from your cooking adventures. Chicken skin, raw meat, rotting remains of vegetables… The bacteria that could be growing in that stainless steel or enameled prison are terrifying to imagine. When you wipe down your kitchen counters, get the inside of your sink, too.
You wouldn’t let your pet lick your face without getting grossed out — so why wouldn’t you clean their food bowl? Your pets are licking the inside of their bowls over and over again, but it rarely gets cleaned. It doesn’t matter how healthy your pet food is — your dog or cat is bound to get sick eventually from the accumulated germs. As a result, you’re putting the health of your pet (and your family) at risk.
Dust mites and their waste can make a pillow double its weight in just two years. Plus, we know you’re drooling all over your pillow as you sleep. Add that to the hair and skin cells you shed night after night and you’re in for a disgusting wasteland of decaying organic material right where you lay your head. Place your pillows in the wash with a gentle detergent to clean them (some experts recommend running them through a second rinse cycle to make sure all the detergent's gone), Bonus: They’ll get extra fluffy from the wash, too!
As you cook, you’re opening and closing the fridge upwards of a dozen times. That’s after touching raw meat, unwashed vegetables… There are tons of opportunities for germs to make a home on the door handle. Add that to the hundreds of other times unwashed fingers make contact with the fridge door and you have a recipe for germy disaster.
Taking reusable bags to the grocery store may be eco-friendly, but experts are saying they can spread deadly bacteria if they’re used to carry raw fish and meat. Fatal bacteria — such as E. coli and campylobacter — can transfer from the outside of food packaging to your reusable bag. Once you fill your bag with more food again, the bacteria can infect your purchases. Wash these cloth bags as you would your clothes and towels.
Your bathroom gets hot and humid every time you shower — but do you ever disinfect that bunched-up shower curtain after it gets damp? Probably not, and you’re subjecting your bathroom to a whole lot of overgrown mold and bacteria as a result.
Your sponge is, ironically, one of the dirtiest places in your kitchen — but we beg of you not to try disinfecting it in the microwave. That method, as it turns out, subjects the tool you use to clean everything to a whole new overgrowth of infectious bacteria. Here’s how to wash your dishes without making yourself sick.
According to a study conducted in 2011, your toothbrush holder is the third dirtiest place in your home. When you clean it, make sure you get all the toothpaste, dried saliva, and other gunk out (you can use a pipe cleaner if it’s hard to reach).
Think that rotting pile of leftovers disappeared once you threw it in the garbage can? Think again. Tiny food and drink particles can splatter and seep onto the rim and handles of your trashcan, contaminating the trash itself even after you put in a fresh bag. That’s why your trash can is actually one of the dirtiest places in your kitchen.