We are surrounded by germs all the time and there is no way to completely protect ourselves from them. The good news is that 99 percent of germs are harmless. The bad news is that the remaining 1 percent can be extremely dangerous and can cause some deadly infections.
Once we step outside the house we may encounter more germs and they can be on whatever we touch and that is anybody’s guess. So, parents make their kids wash their hands religiously once back home. But our home is no less a breeding ground for some germs.
Our homes have over 30 places that support the growth of bacteria and over 340 types of bacteria can be found in those places. The most common bacteria in homes are staph, yeast, mold, salmonella, and E.coli.
According to research done by The National Sanitation Foundation, 75 percent of the bacteria found in homes are found in the kitchen, as opposed to bathroom faucets, which had only 9 percent germs. Even E.coli and fecal matter has been found in places where food is prepared or stored.
Harmful bacteria can divide every 20 minutes if exposed to the right temperature and growing conditions. The only way to protect our kids from these places is to clean them often or as soon as possible to avoid germs from spreading. It is not possible for a parent with young children to literally go on a cleaning spree day after day.
So, we have a list of 15 places that are the dirtiest at home and doing our best to keep cleaning these places can ensure the health of our kids in a big way.
15 The Refrigerator Seal
Once the baby starts crawling or walking you will find yourself running after him all the time. The baby is on an exploration adventure and will try to touch and open all the household items within reach. The most fascinating place for a baby is the kitchen. All the kitchen items appear so intriguing and attractive to a baby that no toy can match.
Unfortunately, that is one place that is the best breeding ground for bacteria after the toilet.
Many kids like to open the refrigerator and enjoy the cool air coming out while trying to take out things. Most people scrub the fridge inside, but the rubber seal remains unnoticed and unclean. During a research by the University of Arizona, it was found that 83 percent of homes have mold around the fridge seal. The damp surface provides a breeding ground for mold. Wiping it clean once a week can protect the baby from getting any infection.
14 Dish Towels
The towel used to wipe dry the dishes has been found to be contaminated by MRSA (staph bacteria,) which is difficult to treat. Almost 7 percent of homes were found to have such bacteria-manifesting towels in their homes according to a recent study. These bacteria can cause serious skin infections that if not treated on time can be life-threatening.
Shockingly, dish towels have also been found contaminated with E.coli and other dangerous bacteria.
Bacteria thrive on a kitchen dish towel if it is used in cleaning minor spills or keeping it in use for a long time. Wiping towels should not be used for any other purpose but strictly wiping dishes. To avoid any germs in the dish towel they should be replaced at least twice a week and washed with hot water. For cleaning countertops, using a separate towel or paper towels is the best.
13 Ticks And Fleas From Pets
Ticks can be more dangerous than anyone can think. Ticks are known to spread more than 14 diseases. They can also carry more than 1 pathogen at a time. Lyme disease is the most commonly heard infection caused by ticks. Almost 300,000 people in America are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year.
This disease can be treated, but it is difficult to diagnose. If not treated, it can spread to other organs such as heart, brain and joints.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis are a few of the other types of tick diseases found in America, some of which need immediate treatment. With pets at home it is difficult to know if the pet has a tick disease. By the time the owners come to know, usually it is too late. If the pet has been found infected by a tick, the whole family should be checked.
12 Cell Phones
The smart-phone, which everyone is addicted to nowadays, houses tons of bacteria. People these days cannot stay away from the phone even when going to the toilet. Who can avoid germs and bacteria in a toilet? Many studies have confirmed the presence of staph bacteria, pseudomonas and salmonella on cell phones.
These germs can cause skin or eye infections and sometimes stomach infections, too.
We have a habit of putting the phone down anywhere without thinking and that is how germs are spread. Parents should rest their belongings that are touched by babies on a clean surface. The bacteria finds many creases and crevices to hide in the cases of the phone. So the phone must be cleaned with a disinfectant to stop the spreading bacteria.
It is best to keep these electronics away from the babies. Otherwise too, exposure to any kind of a screen is not very good for young children.
11 The Car Dashboard
On a day out, kids get a chance to do what they really love – a ride in the car. But do you know that the car dashboard is another common place for breeding bacteria. The car dashboard stays warm in the sun so it is ideal for the growth of bacteria resting on it. These bacteria are usually sucked in by the vents and deposited on the dashboard.
If left unclean, even mold spores can start flourishing on it. Mold is one of the known causes of asthma, which affects nearly 20 million people in America.
Children have a tendency to explore everything they see. They touch dirty places and before you know it, their hands goes onto the face or mouth. It is important that the dashboard be cleaned often with a disinfectant. When taking the baby in the car, it should be cleaned beforehand. Once bacteria start spreading they can infect the baby even through the hands of the parents.
10 A Vacuum Cleaner
Not a wonder! It has been found in research that 13 percent of vacuum cleaner brushes were contaminated with E.coli bacteria. The brushes and bags both are infested with germs and bacteria. Charles Gerba, PhD, professor of environmental biology at the University of Arizona says, “You suck in all this bacteria and food, creating an atmosphere for growth.”
The moment vacuum brushes are used, the bacteria get spread in the whole house.
A house full of germs can make the baby fall sick often or it may lead to respiratory problems also. The bag of the vacuum cleaner should be changed often. It should be done preferably outside the house to prevent the germs from going back into circulation in the air of the home. Many branded vacuum cleaners have antibacterial linings on the bag also.
In bagless vacuums the cavity should be cleaned and air dried to keep it free from germs.
9 Leftover Breastmilk Or Formula
The milk left over in a bottle or cup once the baby is done with a feeding should either be stored in the refrigerator (but not for long) or just discarded. The milk from the baby’s mouth combines with saliva and enzymes can backwash into the bottle. This is true for any food item touched by mouth or hands.
The spoon that has been used should never be put back into the jar. Food carrying mouth bacteria gets spoiled very quickly, even in the fridge.
Formula milk that is fresh should be stored in the fridge and only the portion that needs to be used should be taken out. However, just pumped breast milk can stay at the room temperature for around six hours. The reason is that the breast milk is packed with antibodies that keep bacteria away.
Only the quantity required to feed the baby should be used in the bottle and the rest should be stored separately.
8 Mom's Purse
Women carry their hand bags wherever they go. More than often bags are left on the floor or counters in a public place and even on the restroom counters or floor. Bags are handled all the time and most germs and bacteria found on ladies bags can be found on the hands and body as well. Germs can comfortably hide in the crevices and can slowly multiply inside the bag when used regularly without cleaning.
Bags should be wiped and cleaned after coming back home with a sanitizer that is safe for fabric. A bag should be hung on a hook at home instead of resting it on top of something so that kids do not get hold of it if it is not clean. This will stop bacteria from tracking their way into the house. Bags should never be left around babies for them to touch.
Babies cannot stop putting their hands in their mouth, which is the most common reason for them to get diarrhea.
7 The Remote Control
Who doesn’t watch TV while eating? This is a common practice. Undoubtedly anything that has traces of food is prone to growth of bacteria, even remote controls. Remote controls in hotels are famous for harbouring germs, but even home remote controls are not free from them. Quite often, even a baby is sat in front of the TV by busy parents and babies also tend to touch remotes.
Remote controls also need a weekly cleaning with an alcohol based cleanser. Whoa! So much to clean, but where is the time with a baby to take care of. Well, if the parent does not have any help to carry out cleaning work then at least the baby should not be allowed to touch these objects.
The mother should also make sure that a baby should not be held or touched especially on the face and hands after touching germy surfaces in the house.
6 Kitchen Counters And Cutting Boards
It is not uncommon for a parent to have the baby sit on the kitchen counter while getting her ready for a bath or just playing with her. But it should be avoided because even the clean looking kitchen can be ridden with germs. In a study, 32 percent of kitchen counter tops were found to be infected with coliform bacteria and 18 percent were found to have mold.
Counter tops should be cleaned immediately after cooking with bleach or other home based cleaners. Vinegar and baking soda can be considered safe for any kind of surface. Moreover they are non-toxic and safe cleansers for a home with kids.
According to research, cutting boards have the possibility of having the presence of fecal matter 200 times more than the toilet seat if not cleaned properly and regularly. Please do not let the kids show their helpful side by chopping vegetables on the cutting board unless it is cleaned properly at least once a week.
5 Toothbrush Holders
If the little kiddo’s tiny toothbrush is being kept in a common toothbrush holder then it is time to think again. Leave the toothbrush holder unclean for 3 to 4 days with no drainage for water; you can even see the tiny bacteria with naked eyes. Recently NSF International’s Applied Research Center found a new type of bacteria called Klebsiella michiganensis in the toothbrush holder.
These bacteria belong to the E.Coli family that are mostly found in intestines and fecal matter. These bacteria are drug-resistant and can cause respiratory and urinary tract infections. Flushing the toilet with open lids can allow fecal matter to settle on different areas in the bathroom, including toothbrushes and its holders. Toothbrush holders should be washed at least twice a week and covering the toilet lid before flushing can help prevent this bacteria.
4 The Kitchen Faucet
The end of the faucet from where the water gushes out is another breeding ground for germs. It is because of the metal screen fitted onto it. This screen is mostly moist and provides ideal conditions for bacteria to grow. Most people touch the faucet with unclean fingers having food particles.
Faucets that are not cleaned regularly can allow these bacteria to grow and find places to hide in the metal aeration screen.
According to Kelly Reynolds, PhD, an associate professor from University of Arizona College of Public Health, the bacteria form a sticky biofilm that acts like a wall and sticks to the screen. This biofilm can break off when big enough and gets onto hands, dishes or food.
These screens should be cleaned at least once in week with bleach by removing them and kids should not be allowed to touch the end of the faucet.
3 The Kitchen Sink
Believe it or not our bathrooms are cleaner than our kitchens and this has been proven by many research studies. The only logical reason could be that we take every care to clean the restroom since we are aware of the risks of having a dirty bathroom. But we ignore certain areas in the kitchen that can also harbor germs because of food items.
The sink can be visibly clean, but there are crevices, especially near the drain that can always be full of bacteria.
At least once a week it should be sanitized properly. The best time to do it is before going out for dinner as it will be left to dry. It should be cleaned thoroughly with a detergent first and all food left-overs or spills should be removed. Later diluted bleach can be left in it for about 10 minutes if it is too dirty. Vinegar or baking soda can also be used for cleaning it.
2 Coffee Tables
There are times when people relax with the feet (sometimes even with the shoes on) on the coffee table as soon as they are back from work. Shoes are the best places to find deadly bacteria. They can leave bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter on the table and just imagine the kid brings his toys to play on the same table.
Horrible! Even the kids should not be allowed to get onto the table and jump on it. That is equally harmful.
First things first, shoes worn outside shouldn’t be dragged into the house. They are best left near the door. Kids tend to play and eat near the coffee table so it should be wiped and cleaned every day. It would be better to sanitize it or can be cleaned using bleach or a disinfectant. For a wooden table ammonia can be used for cleaning.
Even the salt and pepper shakers should be cleaned regularly as they too are prone to virus growth.
1 Washing Machines
Surprised? Yes, it is true! Charles Gerba, a microbiologist from the University of Arizona, says, “If you do undergarments in one load and handkerchiefs in the next, you’re blowing your nose in what was in your underwear.” Underwear should be washed in the last load to keep other laundry germ free.
Or another way to avoid germs spreading to other clothes is sanitize the germ ridden clothes separately with a little bleach in warm water.
The wet clothes should not be kept for a long time after wash; they should be quickly moved to the dryer. Those germs that do not get washed away grow in water and thrive in wet laundry. The last thing a mom wants is to put on germy clothes on her kids. Another important thing to remember is that clothes of young babies should be washed separately and should not be kept dirty for a long time.