The Dirtiest Places in Your Home

Washing hands
Westend 61 / Getty Images

It's easy to see the obvious dirty spots in a home like spilled food on kitchen counters, soap scum in the shower or a pile of dirty laundry. But what about the spots that may not look particularly dirty but are actually the ones that can affect the health of your family? 

Let's take a look at your home room by room and shed some light on hidden dirt and bacteria and how to get rid of it.

  • 01 of 05
    Dirty kitchen
    Christina Reichl Photography / Moment Open / Getty Images

    The kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in most homes and also the dirtiest. All of the elements that encourage bacteria to grow–heat, moisture and food–are readily available. Add to that all of the outside elements like raw meats, unwashed fruits and vegetables and the germs from everyone's purses and backpacks, and the kitchen is teeming with harmful bacteria like E. Coli.

    The keys areas of concern in the kitchen are:

    • Sinks
    • Countertops
    • Cabinet Pulls
    • Refrigerators
    • Small Appliances and Kitchen...MORE Tools
  • 02 of 05

    Bathroom

    Bathroom Toothbrushes
    Roy Botterell / Gorbis / Getty Images

    Unfortunately, some bacteria lingers in the bathroom after every use. To ensure that all types of coliform bacteria are controlled, pay particular attention to light switches, door knobs and faucet handles. Keep some disposable disinfecting wipes handy for easy daily cleaning.  

    Bath towels and mats should be washed in hot water at least weekly and allowed to dry completely. Hand towels should be changed several times per week.

    Bathroom sinks should be wiped down daily with disinfecting wipes and...MORE toothbrush holders and cups should be cleaned weekly. 

    When cleaning the obviously dirty areas of the bathtub, shower doors and toilet, take time to wipe down flat surfaces like walls near toilets with disinfectant products.

  • 03 of 05

    Living Areas

    Remotes
    Angela Cappetta / photolibrary / Getty Images

    Whether it's a living room, media or game room, wherever the family gathers, there is hidden dirt and bacteria. Think about how many times someone touches all the remote controls, game controllers, keyboards, tablets, head phones and cell phones in your home. Do they always have clean hands?

    All of those keypads and controllers should be wiped down daily with a disinfectant wipe that is safe for use on electronics. If someone has a cold or virus, they should be cleaned after every use. And,...MORE don't forget switches on lamps, switch plates and doorknobs.

    Another breeding ground for bacteria and allergens is upholstery on furniture. The fabric is exposed to sneezes, unwashed hands, pet dander and hair, and soil from feet and shoes. Many types of bacteria can live for several days on these surfaces.

    At least weekly, upholstered surfaces should be vacuumed with a hand-held vacuum or the upholstery attachment of a larger machine. Be sure to clean underneath and between cushions where food and pet hair can linger. Then freshen and clean with a scented or unscented disinfecting spray.

    If someone in your home has a virus or skin rashes, cover upholstered surfaces with sheets or washable covers that can be changed and washed frequently to disinfect.

  • 04 of 05

    Bedroom

    Phone on Bed
    Mario Gutierrez / Moment / Getty Images

    That beautiful, restful oasis that you created in your bedroom can harbor fungus, bacteria and thousands of mites and insects. Most of these dangers actually lurk right in your bed. 

    Beds are used for sleeping, sex, socializing, eating, working and everything in-between. If the sheets, blankets, quilts and bedspreads are not washed often, they can harbor dirt that can cause:

    • Skin irritation, eczema and acne breakouts
    • Fungal and bacterial infections like athlete's foot and MRSA
    • Allergies and...MORE breathing issues

    To prevent all of this, bed linens should be changed at least weekly and washed properly. Studies have been shown that after one week, bed sheets harbor more bacteria than a bathroom door knob. If you've ever pulled "clean sheets" from the linen closet and they smell stale, that's because there is body oil and soil still in the fabric fibers.

    Pillows, mattresses and box springs should be encased in removable, washable, allergy-proof covers to prevent infestation from dust mites that feed on the skin cells that we shed.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    The Dirty Places You Overlook

    Dog Toys
    Chris Winsor / Moment / Getty Images

    Let's take a look at the dirtiest items you've overlooked in your home but need to be cleaned immediately:

    • Pet Toys and Feeding Bowls
      Your pet deserves nice clean food and water bowls. They should be washed daily in the dishwasher or by hand with hot soapy water, rinsed well and air dried to prevent harmful bacteria growth.
      Pet toys can harbor coliform bacteria, yeast and mold. Hard toys should be cleaned with hot soapy water (at least weekly) and soft toys can be hand or machine washed...MORE using hot water and a disinfectant.
    • Keys, Purses and Wallets
      The items you handle every day pick up the germs and bacteria you're exposed to every day as well. Take time to clean your key fobs, purses and wallets. Purses are usually the most germy. They land on the floor and then end up on counters and tabletops in your home. Keep fabric and leather handbags off the ground and clean them regularly–including the interior!
    • Backpacks and Gym Bags
      Backpacks are a necessity for preschoolers to adults. Whether you carry camping equipment, work out clothes or books, eventually the backpack or your gym bag is going to need to be cleaned and disinfected.