Six Things You Should Clean but Probably Don't
Regardless of whether your cleaning routine is a simple toilet-floor-dishes progression or one that borders on mania (like, umm, sanitizing your baseboards), there are some unlikely items in your house that are actually riddled with germs. Here's what you should be sanitizing, but are probably overlooking.
Reusable Grocery Bags
According to a study conducted by the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University, 97 percent of consumers never wash their bags. About 50 percent of the bags tested contained coliform (fecal) bacteria, and 12 percent contained E. coli. Especially since many people choose reusable bags to bring their lunch to work, to transport books or clothes, and for many other household uses, washing them after each use is the key to stopping contamination from vegetables or raw meat. Cloth bags can go directly into the washer and dryer, and recycled plastic bags can be wiped down with hot soapy water or treated with a disinfectant spray. Researchers also advise using each bag for only a single purpose-carrying raw meat, carrying vegetables, transporting laundry, or as a miscellaneous shopping tote.
Everyone loves a shower in the morning, but no one wants to get showered with bacteria. If you haven't cleaned your showerhead recently, though, this is what may be happening. A study at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that 30 percent of showerheads tested positive for Mycobacterium avium, a germ that can cause lung infections, and for other various bacteria and fungi. Since some microbes may be resistant to chlorine, the best way to clean a showerhead is to soak it in a diluted vinegar solution and then scrub the deposits away with an old toothbrush. Plastic showerheads are more prone to bacterial buildup than metal ones, so people with compromised immune systems are advised to consider switching if necessary.
A 2008 experiment by a researcher in England found that some computer keyboards harbor five times as many bacteria than the average toilet seat-bacteria including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), E. coli, and staph. The Centers for Disease Control blamed computer-equipment contamination for a 2007 norovirus outbreak that affected more than one hundred people at a Washington, D.C., elementary school. Even private computers used at home aren't immune to infection, considering that people are more likely to clean, take out trash, prepare food, handle pets, or use the bathroom without washing their hands when they're at home. A good scrub after typing is the best way to avoid getting sick, but cleaning the keyboard is another good idea. First, eliminate dirt and crumbs using a vacuum cleaner or compressed-air canister, and then use a solution of diluted dishwashing detergent or isopropyl alcohol to swab down the keys with cotton balls or cotton swabs. (Make sure you disconnect the keyboard first.)
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