With the winter season now in full swing, we all know to watch out for the common colds that spread so quickly throughout our offices, schools and homes. We know that if someone is coughing or sneezing to stay away from them for the most part, and to wash our hands several times a day throughout the winter. These are all general rules to live by during cold season, but it’s still very possible, and unfortunately very likely, that you’ll catch something eventually despite taking these basic precautions.
And do you know why that happens? Because believe it or not, germs can dwell in some of the strangest and most unlikely of places. Here are just 5 places that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find germs, but you most certainly will!
1. The Dish Sponge
Believe it or not, the one tool that you use to clean off the germs and bacteria (and dried up food) from your dirty dishes is the one place in your kitchen that’s likely to harbor the most germs.
Studies show that after just one week of use, an ordinary kitchen sponge contains over one million bacteria, including E.coli and staphylococcus. It’s from a combination of things – first, the germs from the food that’s being cleaned off the dishes will often get stuck in the pores of the sponge, and secondly, the hands that use a dish sponge are often dirty themselves.
On top of this, studies have also proven that tap water itself is nearly 5 times dirtier than your bathroom toilet. So how do you solve the problem? Either replace your dish sponge at least once a week, or simple soak the sponge and microwave it on high for about 30 seconds to kill nearly 99% of the bacteria that it harbors.
2. Your Toothbrush
It’s surprising, really, that some of the tools that we use on a daily basis to keep ourselves and our homes clean are actually the ones harboring the largest pools of germs. Your toothbrush is a good example – you use it (hopefully) twice per day to clean your mouth and free it of bacteria, but few people actually stop to think about what’s harboring in those bristles themselves.
The fact is, that bacteria that you’re getting out of your mouth gets stuck to your toothbrush, and a simple rinse won’t exactly do away with those germs completely. Plus, germs love to dwell in moist places, and your toothbrush most likely gets put away damp every morning and night.
In addition to this, a toothbrush’s usual proximity to the toilet makes for another ick-factor: bacteria from the toilet goes flying into the air every time the toilet is flushed, and can very well end up landing on your toothbrush. Your solution? Dry your toothbrush bristles after each cleaning before putting it away, and make sure you replace it every 4-6 weeks.
3. Your Desk Keyboard
Think about all of the things that you do at your desk: you type, type, type away, you eat, you cough, you sneeze and you rarely wash your hands frequently enough to do away with all of these germs.
The computer keyboard, then, becomes a hot spot for germs at your desk, and most people never think to clean it off. The solution is simple – just pick up your keyboard, shake out any excess dirt or dust on a regular basis, and give it a wipe over with a disinfecting cloth as often as you can.
4. The Salt and Pepper Shakers
Not only are the salt and pepper shakers in restaurants obviously covered in germs, but the ones in your homes are, too.
Cold germs are the main culprit on these little shakers – your family has to eat, even when they’re sick. And if they pick up the salt and pepper shakers, their germs end up on the sides and even the tops of them. The shakers are one of the last places many people think to clean in their homes.
The solution here is simple, as well. All you have to do is remember to wipe down your salt and pepper shakers when you wipe down the rest of your kitchen and dining room! Use an antibacterial wipe or spray, or even bleach, to do the trick.
5. Yoga Mats
You know those mats that your gym so graciously provides you with for yoga and other exercise classes? Even the mats that are on the ground to do abdominal workouts on – sure, there are antibacterial sprays next to most of these mats since they are for communal use, but do you ever see anyone actually spray down those mats?
The truth is, studies show that these mats can be harboring all kinds of germs from sweat, bare feet and even used water bottles. Even your own yoga mat could harbor these germs simply because of the material that the mats are made from and the fact that they are often stored when they are still damp from sweat.
To avoid getting sick from your yoga mat, either consider purchasing an antimicrobial mat that fights off germs, or be sure to wipe down the mat and give it a chance to air out completely before rolling and storing. And by all means, avoid the communal mats at the gym. Always bring your own!
Jackie Ryan is a freelance writer who is constantly trying to rid her life of germs. Her latest purchase was good antimicrobial gym flooring for her home gym so that she can get healthy without having to worry about getting sick!