8 Everyday Things That Are Dirtier Than a Toilet

a toilet harbors germs, but so do many other unsuspecting objects around the home

The Spruce / Candace Madonna

While we are adamant about washing our hands and sanitizing ourselves after using the toilet, many of us don't realize that there are plenty of things around the house that harbor just as many germs and bacteria. In fact, there are quite a few items that have even more bacteria than a toilet because we don't realize how dirty they are and therefore don't clean them as often.

Take a look at these eight things around your house that could be making you sick and be prepared to grab some cleaning supplies.

  • 01 of 08

    Your Cellphone

    Multiple sets of hands playing with cell phones

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    Even if you never take your cellphone into the bathroom for a little toilet time scrolling, it is still covered with the bacteria from everything else you touch and every surface it touches.

    Cleaning is very simple with the right supplies: a bit of rubbing alcohol, distilled water, and a microfiber lint-free cloth. While you're cleaning, don't forget to clean your earbuds and other accessories.

  • 02 of 08

    Keyboards and Remote Controls

    Hand pressing on a remote

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    How many times each day do you touch your laptop keyboard or the remote controls for the television, game systems, or even ceiling fans? Just like your phone, they harbor the germs from every hand that's touched it.

    Cleaning is easy if you use a disinfectant wipe made for electronics. This should be done at least daily and more often if someone in the household has a virus or infection.

  • 03 of 08

    Bathroom Doorknobs

    Towel hanging on door

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    Does everyone in your house wash their hands faithfully each time they use the bathroom, sneeze, or prepare food? Probably not.

    It's not just the bathroom doorknob that teems with bacteria or is virus-laden, it's all the doorknobs, handles, light switches, and electronic keypads around the house. A quick wipe down with a disinfectant wipe will take care of the problem. Be sure to use one wipe per room. One wipe won't disinfect an entire house full of knobs!

  • 04 of 08

    Cutting Board

    Someone chopping on a cutting board
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    Food-borne bacteria in the kitchen are the cause of many of the most common illnesses in a household. Cross-contamination from raw foods, mishandled food, unwashed produce, and improper food temperatures are all breeding grounds for bacteria.

    Cutting boards, especially wooden ones, are some of the worst offenders because bacteria can become embedded in the tiny cuts and nicks in the surface. Cutting boards should be washed in hot, soapy water after every use and there should be separate boards for meats and vegetables.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Kitchen Sponges

    A kitchen sponge in a soapy sink

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    When you catch a whiff of a foul-smelling sponge, what you're smelling it is the odor from coliform bacteria (Salmonella or E.coli) lurking in the sponge pores. And when you use that sponge to wipe down countertops, you are spreading a fine layer of that bacteria all over the surfaces.

    Zapping the sponge in the microwave for a few minutes just won't do the trick. The sponges must be cleaned with a heavy duty disinfectant in boiling water to really clean them. It's best to simply replace them every few weeks.

  • 06 of 08

    Reusable Grocery Bags

    A person loading a reusable shopping bag

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    Reusable grocery bags are great for the environment but they can pose a hazard to your family's health. Each time you load in groceries, the bacteria from a leaking meat package, unwashed produce, and other dirty packages go in the bags as well.

    When you get home, the bags are emptied and then often stashed in the trunk of a hot car until the next shopping trip. The heat encourages the growth of any bacteria that remain in the bags.

    It is important to wash the bags used for meats, vegetables, and raw foods after every use. It's a good idea to designate one bag for any chemical cleaning products to prevent accidental cross-contamination.

  • 07 of 08

    Pet Toys and Food Bowls

    dog playing with toy

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    Our pets are part of the family and we want them to remain as healthy as possible. Most of us wash our dishes after each use to prevent bacteria from growing on the utensils and making us sick. Do you do the same for your pet?

    Pet bowls are filled with bacteria from the animal's mouth and the leftover food and multiply after every use. Bowls should be washed after every meal with hot water and soap. The same treatment should frequently be done to pet toys.

  • 08 of 08

    Purses or Backpacks

    Basket purse on floor

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    Purses and backpacks often end up on the floor of stores, offices, classrooms, and bathrooms. Now imagine what else has touched that floor. The handles harbor the bacteria from everything your hands have touched throughout the day.

    When we toss a handbag or backpack on the kitchen counter or table, all those germs and bacteria come along. If the purse or backpack can be washed, do it often or use a disinfectant wipe to clean the bags often and keep them away from food preparation and eating areas.