We took samples from common household items to find out what types of bacteria were growing and where, and we found some less-than-pleasant characters lurking around. But this shouldn’t necessarily be a reason to panic.
There’s occasionally a flare up in the media about the horrifying colony of bacteria growing on your kitchen sponge, or the idea that your chopping board is dirtier than your toilet seat.
This makes many of us recoil, but the suggestions for preventing bacteria growth – throw out your sponge every day – are often out of sync with realistic daily life.
Our swabbing test did, in fact, reveal faecal matter on the kitchen sponge, as well as the kettle handle, and – less surprisingly – the toilet seat. We also found staph (a bacterium that causes skin infections) on the sponge and toilet seat.
While all of this sounds rather unpleasant, what do you actually need to do to target the nasty bacteria in your home, without spending all of your time cleaning? Well here are a few of our top tips…
Keeping your home clean
Disinfect discerningly. Soap or detergent and water work fine for most things. If you’re washing the dishes with soap or detergent, you’re already washing bacteria down the drain – so there’s generally no need for a disinfectant.
However, on surfaces such as worktops, where you’re not rinsing bacteria away, disinfectant makes more sense – but you should wash surfaces with hot water and detergent before disinfecting them.
Don’t neglect the kitchen sponge as this will be the most contaminated item in many homes. Leaving a sponge damp overnight encourages the feasting and reproduction of the microbes living within too.
To clean your sponge, you can soak it in bleach overnight, or put it in the dishwasher on a high-temperature program. This won’t kill everything, but it will keep germs at bay to some extent.
Concentrate on ‘superhighways’ that spread pathogens around the home. That is – your hands, food prep areas, and things that move bacteria around – like that damp sponge or cloth.
If some dirty laundry needs bleaching, a hot machine wash is often not hot enough for long enough to kill bacteria and fungi on clothes. It’s best to choose a biological powder with a bleaching agent for items that carry a high risk of contamination – tea towels used in food prep, sports clothes, or any heavily soiled clothing.
Your cleaning tips
So what are your cleaning tips? How often do you clean your home?