6 Dirtiest Areas In Your House, Experts Advice
What’s the dirtiest place in your house? Dr. Carl J. Fichtenbaum, an infectious disease specialist and professor of clinical medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Cincinnati, says that it’s the people and pets. For that reason, he adds, “The most important things to clean in the home are people’s hands,” says Fichtenbaum. “Washing your hands for 20-30 seconds with soap and water — singing the happy birthday song to measure time — is the best way to prevent the spread of germs.” Jessica, and Cleaning Department Manager of BeaBos Inc, a professional cleaning methods, and cleaning tools in London, concurs: “The number one tip to keeping the house clean is: wash your hands as soon as you arrive at home and put things away, such as purses, bags, and shoes.”
But the dirt doesn’t end there. Read on for expert takes on top dirty spots in your home and what you can do to get rid of the griminess for good.
1. Kitchen counters and handles
“It is very common to think of the stove and fridge as focal areas to clean,” says Jessica, “but in fact, countertops and handles need the same care and attention.”
“On the counter, we place lots of produce, rest bags from outside, create coffee stains, leave crumbs and spill liquids,” she explains. “And while we use cutting boards to cut our meats, vegetables and fruits, it is still possible to have a transfer of bacteria.” Jessica says the same goes when you’re cooking and reach over to open a drawer, getting bacteria or grease from food on the handles. Oliveira advises wiping down these spots with a disinfectant daily.
While you’re in the kitchen, keep an eye on your sponge, too. “If you start to notice a mildew, musty smell every time you walk into your kitchen, it may be your kitchen sponge,” which can also be home to bacteria, says Kevin J, CEO of BeaBos Inc. in London, United Kingdom. Him advice: Run it through the dishwasher weekly, and replace it every month.
3. Dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerator door seals
“Any time you combine soap and water, like in your washing machine or your dish washer, buildup is going to happen,” explains Cherry. “Soap and water mix and get trapped in the seals and cause them to become gunky.” And in the fridge, seals can get dirty when food and drinks get caught in them, she says.
To clean these seals, use a combo of warm water, mild soap and a cleaning cloth, Cherry recommends — and try an old toothbrush or soft-bristled grout brush to get “into all the grooves and crevices.” Then, rinse and dry. She recommends repeating monthly.
4. Coffee makers and bottled water dispensers
Kevin says many people use a bottled water dispenser and coffee maker in their daily routine, but both of them are “usually an overlooked area when cleaning the kitchen.” That can lead to some icky consequences: If there’s stagnant coffee or water, it can grow “mildew or mold and create an unsanitary odor,” he says. To sidestep it? Clean the coffee maker and reservoir in your water dispenser with a sponge, water and dish soap, Kevin advises.
When it comes to keeping faucets clean, we’re specifically talking about cleaning underneath the faucets in the kitchen — an area you should pay particular attention to if you drink tap water or cook with it, says Cherry. “Tap water can contain minerals, like calcium, which will cause a hard, crusty buildup on the faucet screen and surrounding components,” she explains.
Clear the buildup by scrubbing under the faucet with a grout brush, she advises. “Another option is to put some orange essential oil on an old toothbrush, apply it to the bottom of the faucet and allow it to sit for 15 minutes to break up the buildupThen scrub with a stiff grout brush. Rinse the area thoroughly.” Once the buildup is gone, a weekly scrubbing with an old toothbrush, soap and water should help, she says.
6. The whole toilet bowl
From the handle to the seat to the tank, the toilet bowl is a throne that's teeming with harmful germs. No matter how expensive the brand is or whatever modern fixtures it has, your toilet bowl is not safe from microbes such as E. coli, shigella, streptococcus, and staph that can cause diarrhea, jaundice, and typhoid.
Don’t just pay attention to the inside of the toilet bowl, say cleaning experts. “The toilet harvests bacteria and stains from daily use inside the bowl, but to most people’s surprise the outer bowl and seat is just as important to clean as the bowl,” explains Oliveira, because that’s where dust, stains and grime can accumulate.
Mary Cherry, owner of Evie’s Cleaning Company in Pearland, Texas also points to the toilet base: “Dust, hair and dirt collect at the base, sides and behind the toilet, leaving the area dirty,” she says. And, because it’s often used by multiple people, “the dirt builds up rather quickly,” she notes.
To clean the outer areas, Cherry recommends a weekly wiping with a dry cloth or paper towel first (since wet dust and hair can be harder to pick up) and then following with an all-purpose or bathroom cleaner.