Is your home as clean as you think it is? Research reveals the surprising places viruses and bacteria lurk in your home — and the simple strategies to keep you safe and healthy!
Dark and damp, the reservoirs of coffee makers are perfect breeding grounds for microorganisms . In one study, 50 percent were contaminated with mold and yeast, and many had high bacteria counts. Fortunately, making sure your fresh coffee contains only coffee is easy: British researchers say just washing out the pot and basket once daily with regular dish detergent and water instantly cuts germ counts by 82 percent, and running half a pot of vinegar once each month through the machine (followed by a few pots of fresh water) prevents germ growth by cleaning out the nooks and crannies you can’t reach by hand.
Boots and Shoes
Previous research has revealed high levels of illness-causing bacteria on shoes and boots, and a recent CDC study suggests that when people walk through areas where Covid-19 is present, up to 50 percent of them arrive home with the virus stuck to their footwear. The instant Rx: Switch to comfy slippers or clean indoor shoes when you step inside, and give your hands a scrub if you had to touch your shoes to take them off. University of Michigan researchers say you’ll cut the germ levels on your floors by 60 percent, plus reduce your illness risk by one-third.
Knobs on the Stove
There are more bacteria on stove knobs than there are on dish sponges or even in the bottom of kitchen garbage cans, say University of Colorado scientists. Microbiologist Beth Redmond, PhD, explains that we clean most kitchen surfaces regularly, but knobs are easy to overlook. To cut bacteria levels by 95 percent or more — plus rid these surfaces of any viruses that may be lingering — clean kitchen knobs once weekly with soap and water, then wipe with a little diluted bleach (1 teaspoon of bleach mixed into 1 cup of water).
Almost 100 percent of these hardworking appliances were contaminated with illness-causing bacteria and fungi — most growing in the door’s rubber seal or on the inside walls, reveals a study in the journal BMC Microbiology. To quickly loosen and flush out troublesome germs, UCLA researchers recommend running your dishwasher empty once weekly, at a higher heat with a mug filled with vinegar sitting in the top rack.
At least half of vacuum cleaner brushes and powerheads test positive for harmful germs (including fecal bacteria and mold spores) that can be spread around rooms while cleaning. But lightly spritzing the underside of your vacuum’s powerhead (plus the beater brush) after each use with a disinfectant like Clorox or Lysol will kill up to 100 percent of germs on contact, say University of Arizona researchers. And since these spritzes evaporate quickly, they won’t damage surfaces when you next vacuum.
Yikes! According to NYU researchers, 25 percent of freshly washed laundry still harbors germs. Blame today’s larger loads, cooler wash water and fewer phosphates in detergents. Thankfully, one simple tweak can ensure your clean laundry is truly clean: Add ½ cup of borax like MILLIARD Borax Powder (Buy on Amazon, $7.99) to the wash cycle. Canadian scientists say this natural mineral salt blocks the growth of bacteria and viruses — plus raises the pH of wash water, boosting the ability of laundry detergents to dissolve and remove germ-laden grime.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.
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