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Cootie collectors

Your home’s 6 germiest objects.

Article Author: Juice Staff

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Germs are everywhere, even though you might not see them.

Outside your home, you may avoid them by opening restaurant doors with your elbows or spraying down restroom counters with disinfectant from a little travel-sized bottle. But inside your comfort zone, there’s plenty germ risk too, said Danneley Duval, MPH, an infection preventionist with Baptist Medical Center South.

E. coli, staphylococcus and salmonella bacteria are found on many surfaces, even if only in small amounts. Left to grow and infect, they can cause stomach cramps, vomiting or diarrhea.

A recent infectious disease study said sponges are one of the germiest objects in the home. That’s because they often stay damp and are full of tiny pockets where bacteria can grow.

“You should be disinfecting your sponge every three days,” Duval said. “Just put it in the microwave for two minutes and be sure to let it cool down.”

After you’ve done that, turn your attention to your home’s other giant germ collectors.

Objects that can be surprisingly icky

According to Duval, these 6 objects are likely among the most germ-filled in your house:

  1. Refrigerator door handle

Why? You touch a lot of things in the kitchen, including food and trash. And you’re also probably frequently handling things in the fridge like meat and vegetables. The refrigerator door handle accumulates bacteria from everything you’ve touched.

What should you do? Wipe down the door handle every day using hot soapy water or disinfectant.

  1. Coffee maker

Why? It’s constantly wet and steamy. Though you may think of water as clean, most people aren’t using distilled water. Any time you leave something sitting wet, it's a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow and thrive.

What should you do? Clean the coffee maker by filling up the water reservoir, adding up to four cups of vinegar and letting it sit for 30 minutes. Then cycle the mixture through, like you would if you were making coffee. Afterward, run it again with fresh water two or three times so your coffee won’t taste like vinegar. Do this once a month.

  1. Makeup bag

Why? It’s a bigger problem than other bags, like purses, because it houses makeup brushes and sponges. Those products are going directly from a dirty bag to your face when you apply makeup. The germs can give you skin and eye infections, and your face is one place where you definitely don’t want that to happen!

What should you do? Clean brushes with soap and water after every use. For those who wear makeup every day, wipe out the makeup bag as often as once a week.

  1. Pet bowls

Why? The mouths of cats and dogs are often filled with bacteria. Pets put many things in their mouths: toys from the floor or sticks from outdoors. It’s not really harmful to them, but it can be to their human friends, especially children. The germs get carried to pet bowls where moisture helps them grow.

What should you do? Clean food and water bowls with a pet-safe soap at least once a week.

  1. Cutting board

Why? Many people just rinse them off after use. It looks clean, but it’s not.

What should you do? Wash a cutting board with hot soapy water after every use. If it’s dishwasher-safe, throw it in there.

  1. Keys and cell phone

Why? You touch them a lot. Plus, you take them everywhere including the bathroom, grocery store and work. These items get set down on just about every surface.

What should you do? Rub down a phone with a disinfectant or alcohol wipe. Keys can be sprayed. Clean keys once a week and cell phones as often as once a day.

Homegrown germs might seem scary, but they don’t have to be. Regular cleaning can help keep your family safe and well.


If germs in your house leave you feeling sick, a primary care physician can be your first stop to getting better. If you’re looking for the right physician for you, call 904.202.4YOU or click here to fill out an appointment request form.

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