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8 Spots Germs Love to Lurk in Your Home

September 01, 2009 | 36,637 views
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1. TV remote

Many people watch TV while they absent-mindedly chew their fingernails, snack on food and flip through channels, leaving all kinds of bacteria on the remote. Make sure to sanitize the remote control regularly to prevent sickness.

2. Tub and shower

Your bathtub may have 100 times more bacteria than the trash can, according to an in-home bacteria study conducted by the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community. The Hygiene Council recommends that showers and tubs be disinfected twice a week to get rid of dead skin cells left in the tub that can carry germs too.

3. Pet food dish

Most pet food dishes stay on the floor and do not get washed regularly.

4. Kitchen cloths and sponges

People frequently use sponges or cloths to wipe germs from surfaces in the kitchen. As a result, 70 percent of kitchen sponges in U.S. homes failed the hygiene test by having high levels of bacteria, according to the Hygiene Council. The council recommends running sponges through the dishwasher regularly and washing kitchen cloths on the hot cycle in the washing machine.

5. Microwave touch screen

This spot is notorious for not getting cleaned. Even though the food comes out cooked, the germs that can make you sick are left on the outside of the microwave for the next person to touch. It is important to wipe down the touch screen regularly, especially after cooking raw meat.

6. Light switches

Touching the light switch is practically unavoidable, but keeping it clean is not. The bathroom light switch can have as many germs as the trash bin. Disinfect light switches twice a week, or every day if a member of your household is sick.

7. Baby changing table

During diaper changes, the baby wipes container, the diaper packaging, the trash can and anything around the changing area get contaminated with bacteria through touching after handling a dirty diaper. The baby changing table area should be cleaned often.

8. Kitchen faucetsTV remote control, germs

Typically people wash their hands after handling raw meat in the kitchen, but they touch the faucet to turn on the water and do not think about the bacteria that they leave. The Hygiene Council found more than half of faucets in American homes are covered in bacteria.


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Dr. Mercola's Comments:

The average human hand harbors 150 species of bacteria, some harmless and even beneficial, others capable of causing serious illness. Any number of those bacteria can be left behind every time you touch something -- and considering that in the United States, Americans actually touch about 300 different surfaces every 30 minutes, there are a lot of germs being spread around.

In fact, regular contact with household items is thought to be the trigger for over 65 percent of colds, 50 percent of all cases of diarrhea and 50 percent to 80 percent of food-borne illnesses.

Among the worst offenders are those objects you touch often but rarely clean, such as your kitchen faucet, TV remote control, doorknobs, refrigerator door handles, computer keyboards, mice and trackballs, and light switches.

Take-Home Tip

So you can make a major improvement in decreasing the spread of infections in your home and where you work if you make certain that someone is REGULARLY cleaning the kitchen faucet, TV remote control, doorknobs, refrigerator door handles, computer keyboards, mice and trackballs, and light switches.

This may not seem like a big change, but I can confidently assure you that preventing these infections is FAR easier and less expensive than treating them.

A recent Washington Post article also cited a study showing ALL salt and pepper shakers tested were contaminated with cold germs.

Your kitchen sponge is also likely to be one of the most contaminated objects in your home. The Hygiene Council found that 70 percent of kitchen sponges in U.S. homes failed the hygiene test by having high levels of bacteria. Adding to the “yuck” factor is that when you use a contaminated sponge to “clean” your counters or dishes, you are essentially spreading those germs around even more.

While it is a mistake to ignore the basic hygiene steps that can keep disease-causing germs in check in your home … it is an even bigger mistake to go on a disinfecting rampage through your house.

It’s Perfectly OK to Have Some Germs in Your Home

In fact, it’s quite impossible NOT to have them. No matter how diligent you are at keeping your home clean, germs are a part of life and you’ve got to learn how to live with them.

Your home should not be a sterile environment, and if you’re attempting to turn it into one by dousing everything with antibacterial cleansers and hand sanitizers you are doing yourself and your family an extreme disservice.

This is especially true if you have young children, as they need to be exposed to common bacteria and viruses. If your child is healthy, this exposure will only make his or her immune system stronger. Unfortunately, children are now growing up without being exposed to the bacteria, viruses and parasites that have existed throughout the world -- even in developed countries like the United States -- since the beginning of time.

To some extent, this is a good thing. But to children’s immune systems, which are not being exposed to bacteria and viruses like they were in the past, it results in an excessive immune response.

In other words, children’s immune systems are becoming unable to differentiate between real threats and harmless items like pollen and dust-bunnies. The result is a significant rise in allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases in the Western world.

Your immune system, too, can benefit from a “workout” here and there as it reacts normally to common bacteria and viruses in your environment.

When You Do Clean, Do So Smartly and Safely

Over-sanitizing your home is not at all necessary or wise, but it is a good idea to cleanse frequently used household items regularly, especially if someone in your home has been sick. But please avoid using commercial disinfectants and chemical cleaners to do so.

Many commercial cleaning products contain dangerous chemicals that are not listed on the label. A manufacturer can omit any ingredient that is considered a “secret formula” from its label, and many of these secret ingredients are toxic and carcinogenic.

You can actually keep your home fresh and clean by making your own natural cleaning products using items you probably already have around your home.

To clean with natural products all you need is:

  • Baking soda

  • Vinegar

  • Borax

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Liquid castile soap

  • Organic essential oils (optional)

  • Mixing bowls

  • Spray bottles

  • Micro fiber cloths

  • Vodka (optional)

Here are some simple tips on how to use these all-natural cleansers:

  • Use baking soda mixed with apple cider vinegar to clean drains and bathtubs, or sprinkle baking soda along with a few drops of lavender oil or tea tree oil (which have antibacterial qualities) as a simple scrub for your bathroom or kitchen.

  • Vinegar can be used to clean almost anything in your home. Try it mixed with liquid castile soap, essential oils and water to clean floors, windows, bathrooms and kitchens. It can even be used as a natural fabric softener.

  • Hydrogen peroxide is another natural disinfectant that is safer to use than chlorine bleach for disinfecting and whitening.

  • Vodka is a disinfectant that can remove red wine stains, kill wasps and bees and refreshes upholstery (put it into a mister and simply spray on the fabric).

One of my favorite cleaning tricks -- and one of the only reasons I ever use a microwave -- is to zap kitchen sponges.

Placing a wet kitchen sponge in your microwave for two minutes will likely kill 99 percent of the bacteria hidden in the sponge.

And one of the simplest tips to stop the spread of germs in your home is simply washing your hands (and your kids’ hands) regularly, especially after coming home and before eating or touching your mouth, eyes or nose.

Use commonsense when deciding when and how often to wash your hands, as you will want to avoid becoming obsessive about it; your skin is your primary defense against bacteria -- NOT the soap. It is rare when a germ on your skin will cause a problem -- it is typically only an issue when you transfer that to your nose, mouth or an open wound like cracked skin.

So please avoid anything but absolutely crucial hand washing as that will actually increase your risk of getting sick by providing an entryway for potentially dangerous pathogens into your body.

Give Your Immune System a Fighting Chance Against Germs in Six Easy Steps

Germs are literally everywhere and you’ve got them on your body right now. If you’re at a computer reading this, there are likely many germs on your computer mouse, keyboard and desk. The point is, you can’t run from germs and there’s really no need to, especially when your immune system is healthy.

A strong immune system is the best defense against any pathogenic bacteria you come across, and will serve you well if you nourish it with the proper tools.

So relax and get used to the idea that germs are all around you. You can co-exist with them peacefully as long as you support your immune system by:

  1. Getting a good night’s sleep

  2. Having positive outlets for the stress in your life

  3. Exercising regularly and effectively

  4. Getting enough sun exposure or, alternatively, enough of the right vitamin D

  5. Avoiding sugar and grains, and instead eating plenty of raw foods

  6. Taking a high-quality probiotic (good bacteria) or eating plenty of naturally fermented foods

[+] Sources and References

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Food Democracy Now
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National Vaccine Information Center
Institute for Responsible Technology
Organic Consumers Association
Center for Nutrtion Advocacy
Cornucopia Institute
Vitamin D Council
GrassrootsHealth - Vitamin D*action
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Holistic Veterinary Medical Foundation
The Rabies Challenge Fund
Cropped Catis Mexico