Ahh, spring... A time of growth and renewal—but let's make that untrue for germs! Your kitchen drain, your sponge, your toilet bowl, and your bathtub drain are the top four breeding grounds for bacteria and other germs in your house, according to a study by the Hygiene Council. This doesn't mean you have to slip on the haz-mat suit and respirator. It does mean you should add these germy hot spots to your regular routine. Here's a list of the most germ infested areas—and how to safely purge them.
Germ Hot Spots
Germ Threat: Strep, parasites, Salmonella, faecal coliforms.
Solution: Frequency is the key. Clean toilet once a week, or more if necessary. Make sure to do the toilet last if you're doing a full bathroom clean-up. Another helpful tip: Flush with the lid down, says the Hygiene Council.
Area: Kitchen sink, drain, and faucet handle
Germ Threat: Salmonella and Escherichia coli (E. coli)
Solution: A gentle abrasive cleanser or dilute a teaspoon of bleach in a quart of water, says the Food and Drug Administration. Make sure to focus on the drain, where germs hide.
Germ Threat: Your sponge can spread bacteria, potentially including Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, and Staphylococcus.
Solution: Let sponge dry between uses. Moisten sponge and nuke it in the microwave for one minute, or toss it in the dishwasher where the high heat will kill bacteria. That said, don't get too attached to your sponge. Throw it away if it gets stinky or has wiped up too many nasty messes.
Area: Tub and shower
Germ Threat: Staph aureus, which causes staph infections, and bacteria that thrives in soap scum.
Solution: Baking soda followed by a splash of vinegar for the drain, or watered-down bleach in a spray bottle. For the tub basin, a gentle disinfecting scrub or a paste of baking soda and water.
Area: Bathroom sink and faucet
Germ Threat: Bacteria that lurks in soap scum.
Solution: Be sure to clean your bathroom sink before the toilet so as not to cross-contaminate. Baking soda followed by a splash of vinegar for the drain, or watered-down bleach in a spray bottle.
Area: Pet food bowl
Germ Threat: Salmonella, especially if you give your dog or cat raw meat ingredients.
Solution: Wash with dish soap, then soak in a diluted bleach solution for true disinfecting. Rinse thoroughly before reusing.