Coffee makers, kitchen towels and toothbrushes are among some of the germiest items in your home
It might be time to throw in the towel.
Kitchen sponges have an icky reputation — but most of us don’t realize that our kitchen towels are the real threat to our health. Kitchen towels harbor dangerous amounts of bacteria and germs, according to a new report, making them one of the filthiest household items.
The bacteria found on kitchen towels can cause food poisoning, and even skin and soft tissue infections, according to a study in the American Society for Microbiology conducted by the University of Mauritius. Half (49%) of 100 towels examined in the study contained bacteria including E. coli, Enterococcus spp and Staphylococcus aureus.
Factors like the size of your family, your diet and whether the towels are used to wipe, dry or clean can determine the amount of bacterial growth on a dish rag. The study found that kitchen towels belonging to those who eat meat, those who reside in humid environments and those who use their kitchen towels for multiple purposes had linens with an increased bacterial load.
Here are five other surprisingly disgusting things that you’ve been neglecting in your home:
Your morning cup of Joe might be brewed with more than caffeine. A National Sanitation Foundation germ study found that coffee reservoirs are the fifth germiest place in homes. So they recommend washing removable components after each use, wiping outer surfaces of the unit daily and cleaning internal components every 40 to 60 brew cycles or at least once a month to combat these pesky spores.
Plastic water bottles
Plastic can crack, get scratched and harbor bacteria, but stainless steel water bottles are naturally anti-bacterial. Using a bottle with a wide mouth makes them easier to clean and according to Shape, bottles should be rinsed routinely with a bottle brush, soap, warm water or a vinegar and water solution.
If you’re guilty of setting your purse on the floor at restaurants, in public restrooms, on the train or at movie theaters — the bottom of your bag likely contains trace amounts of fecal matter and other yucky organisms. A 2015 study conducted by the University of Mauritius revealed that purses from both men and women are potential vectors for transmission of diseases across the community. The most common forms of bacteria swabbed from the bags were Micrococcus and Staph — and they were found more prominently on synthetic and cloth bags, versus leather ones. Instead of putting your purse on the ground, consider using a hook to hang your bag, like this $24.99 personalized version from Bed Bath and Beyond, or keep it on your lap. Cleaning your bag’s interior and exterior regularly is also encouraged per the study.
More than a quarter of shoes carry Clostridium difficile, commonly known as C. diff — a dangerous bacterial strain that can cause a host of symptoms from diarrhea to fatal infections, a 2017 University of Houston study showed. So don’t slosh around public pools, showers, summer camp, spas and locker rooms in the same sandals all summer and then saunter into your house and contaminate your floors. Either take your shoes off at the door, or wear a designated pair of Showaflops which have drainage holes in them so they dry faster. They also contain antimicrobials to help protect feet against bacteria and odor and are available in men’s, women’s, boy’s and girl’s styles from $22-$34.
The American Dental Association (ADA) advises rinsing a toothbrush after use and letting it air dry — as opposed to putting a moist toothbrush in a closed container, which promotes bacterial growth. The ADA also indicates that toothbrushes can harbor bacteria, including fecal matter when they’re kept close to a toilet. Caitlin Miller, a dentist in New York City, told Moneyish, “I tell my patients to use a soft-bristled brush and change it every three to four months, depending on the wear. Allow it to air dry away from the toilet. And if you want to be cautious about bacteria, soaking in listerine is a nice idea — but you should change the listerine regularly.”
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