Bacteria Health Risks and Potential Trouble Areas in Your Home

After this article about bacteria in public restrooms was featured on the showcase, I found that there are many more mysophobic (the real word for “germaphobic”) content producers lurking in the virtual shadows of Associated Content than I’d ever imagined. People mistook me, understandably, for a fellow germaphobe, which I’m not. It does pay to be mindful of bacteria, but there’s really no need to snap on the latex gloves. Well, not with this subject, at least. Wink, wink.

As I say, I’m not afflicted with mysophobia. What I am, though, is a bastard. Hence, I can think of no better way to spend a few minutes of my time than to address you germaphobes again with more bacteria information and see if I can really make your collective skin crawl.

Most with mysophobic tendencies just avoid public restrooms altogether. So now let’s go into your home. The house is much harder to stay away from. But to be serious for a moment, there are a few key spots in the home that harbor thriving, festering bacteria colonies. With a little awareness, they are easily dealt with.

One brief explanation is needed here. Mostly when I say “bacteria,” I’m talking about bacteria. However, for the sake of concision and keyword density, I’m using bacteria as a catch-all to include viruses, fungi, and other microscopic disease delivery boys. While there are differences, “bacteria” serves our purpose and the ensuing information is still accurate.

Most people have heard that the room with the most bacteria is not the bathroom, it’s the kitchen. This is true. A few particular places and items are the worst culprits.

The single highest bacteria count on one item is found on your kitchen sponge. Between washing dishes and wiping down your counters, filth and funk accumulate. The real problem, though, is the rate at which bacteria is able to multiply on a sponge. It’s the perfect environment for a bacteria breeding ground. The tiny nooks and crannies combined with the perpetual moistness adds up to an ideal setting to promote bacteria reproduction. Your kitchen sponge is a veritable gay bathhouse, only with procreation.

In such ideal conditions, by the way, bacteria cells can multiply as much as eight million times in only a day. Experts used to recommend throwing out sponges after no more than a week of use, as there was no entirely effective way to sanitize them all the way through. That’s no longer the case; the problem has been solved by persistent antibacterial minds. Just dampen and microwave your sponge for two and a half minutes. It nukes the bacteria villages into oblivion.

Dish towels are in a close second to sponges in terms of bacteria count, and are just as prolific when it comes to spreading it around. These should be washed in a hot water cycle and dried with high heat at least once every week.

Taking the bacteria bronze is your cutting board. While wood cutting boards are the worst, all are a problem. Their innumerable microscopic slits are fertile ground for bacteria, and few people ever clean their boards properly or frequently enough. The raw chicken and other meats leave behind some nasty stuff. And you vegetarians–don’t get all uppity here; vegetables are a primary source of hundreds of food-borne illnesses, from the most minor to the rare but frequently fatal. Even the invisible remnants of cheese can be dangerous.

So no matter what you cut, the board must be cleaned and sanitized after each use. First hand-wash it with hot water and antibacterial soap. Then either put it in the dishwasher or drop it in a watered-down bleach solution (use 1 teaspoon of bleach per quart of water). Let it soak for a minute, then rinse it off.

Having addressed the Big Three bacterial problem areas in your home, I’d like to just make a quick run through other areas you should be sure to clean frequently with a sanitizing solution.

All handles (especially refrigerator, toilet, sink, and shower handles) and doorknobs, because of constant hands-on interaction, collect a disproportionate share of bacteria. Sink and shower drains are also, due to lingering moisture, trouble areas. They should be wiped thoroughly with an antibacterial cleaner, and you should even pour a little bleach down them. When you’re cleaning the sinks, don’t miss the pumps of your liquid soap dispensers. Telephones–both their receivers and buttons–are probably the most commonly overlooked bacteria haven in the home. Unfortunately, it’s true everywhere outside the home too (offices, hotels, etc.)

To stray a bit into this subject’s outfield, let’s stop in the cupboard for a minute. Never eat canned food in a can that’s even the slightest bit swollen. Can swelling is caused by one thing: bacteria growth. And the majority of the time it’s Clostridium Botulinum, more commonly known as botulism. Though medical science has almost eliminated the mortality rate of botulism, you definitely don’t want it.

And for the ladies, one last thing that has received surprisingly little coverage in health news. Recent studies have found that the bottom of your purse is covered with thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands of bacteria cells. In many cases, we’re talking far more bacteria than is on the soles of your shoes. So if you don’t take off your shoes and drop them on your kitchen counter or table, there’s no way you should be walking in and depositing your purse there either. And we’re talking everything from fecal bacteria to highly transmittable viruses. Experts are now being led to the conclusion that people frequently contract minor illnesses from the bottom of a purse in their home. Just wipe your purse down every day or two with an antibacterial cleanser.

Guys, I’m guessing that if you carry a man-bag, the same problem exists, though I’ve yet to see any man-purse focused studies. And, as this is a very public forum, I must state for the record that I do not condone the use of man-bags.

One last vaguely related fun fact, just in case you mysophobic folks need one more thing to be squeamish about: the germs in an uncovered sneeze can travel up to 25 feet in an enclosed space. Yum.

Yes, bacteria is everywhere. There’s no need to live in fear of bacteria, though I understand that mysophobia is, like all phobias, irrational and not a choice. By being sensibly conscious of the prime bacteria locales in your home, though, you can actually greatly reduce the acquiring and spreading of minor illnesses like diarrhea, upset stomachs, colds, and the flu. It’s well worth the extra effort. Happy bacteria hunting.

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