10 Dirtiest Parts of Your Home

10 Dirtiest Parts of Your Home

Monday Oct 3rd, 2022

Maybe you’ve heard the idiom: The devil is in the details. It’s a fitting phrase when it comes to the dirtiest parts of your home. In fact, many of the germiest hotbeds in a house are the smallest features in a room.

From faucet handles and toothbrush holders to countertops and pet bowls, we live in a world of bacteria. To help you achieve a deeper clean, Gem City Cleaning Solutions, a premier cleaning service, goes over the 10 dirtiest places in your home. In doing so, we brushed up on the National Sanitation Foundation’s (NSF) International Household Germ Study.


1. Dish Sponges

Without question, the grossest thing you have in your house is a dish sponge. From salmonella and E. coli to yeast and mold, it’s prime real estate for germs. The NSF found:

  • 77 percent of sponges have Coliform bacteria (salmonella and E. coli)
  • 86 percent of sponges have yeast and mold
  • 6.4 percent of sponges have staphylococcus (staph)

To minimize the germs, we recommend swapping out your sponge every two weeks. Further, toss them in the dishwasher or laundry every few days to sterilize them. While it may sound strange, microwaving sponges is also incredibly effective. A study by the Agricultural Research Service found that it kills 99.99999 percent of germs.

2. Kitchen Sink

Your kitchen sink probably gets a lot of use. And, it’s more than likely that you’re cleaning it with the same dirty sponge you we’re envisioning in the section above. Via swab analysis, the NSF found that:

  • 45 percent of kitchen sinks have Coliform bacteria
  • 27 percent of kitchen sinks have yeast and mold

To minimize bacteria build-up, aim to never let your dirty dishes sit longer than 24 hours. Furthermore, make an extra effort to wash up any wooden cutting boards or utensils as soon as you can. Germs can sink down into the wood, making them harder to clean effectively if they’ve been sitting around for a while. Plus, they’re more prone to bending and warping, so you’ll be saving yourself from a future headache, too. Lastly, make sure you give your sink a thorough scrub down at least once a week, from faucet to drain.

Toothbursh Holder

3. Toothbrush Holder

Yep, the thing we use to clean our mouth spends most of its time in a dirty receptacle.

  • 27 percent of toothbrush holders have Coliform bacteria
  • 64 percent of toothbrush holders have yeast and mold
  • 14 percent of toothbrush holders have staph

You should sterilize your toothbrush holder each time you clean your bathroom to minimize how many germs are sitting in the small steamy pool at the base of it. We also recommend finding toothbrush holders that are dishwasher safe so you can load them up with your dishes.

4. Pet Bowl

Dogs, cats, and other furry friends make great additions to our home. But pet products can get pretty dirty. The NSF found that their food and water bowls are riddled with bacteria. In fact:

  • 18 percent of pet bowls have Coliform bacteria (salmonella and E. coli)
  • 45 percent of pet bowls have yeast and mold
  • 14 percent of pet bowls have staph

To keep your home clean when you have a pet, consider having them eat in a room without carpeting. Tile, hardwood, and linoleum make it easier to sweep and mop up all their drips and crumbs. Moreover, invest in a plastic placemat that sits under their food and water bowls.

Simplify your cleaning process by buying dishwasher-safe pet bowls and feeders. Most dishwashers will wipe out 99.9 percent of bacteria, so you can rest assured your pup or feline friend is safe.

Coffee Maker

5. Coffee Reservoir

Just about everyone loves a morning cup of joe, but few of them know how many germs are probably lurking inside their coffee makers. The NSF found that:

  • 9 percent of coffee reservoirs have Coliform bacteria
  • 50 percent of coffee reservoirs have yeast and mold

While Consumer Reports recommends cleaning your coffee maker every three to six months, we tend to recommend closer to every two months. The cleaning process is simple. All you really need is vinegar, as it’s food-safe and has impressive antibacterial properties.

  1. Pour undiluted vinegar into the reservoir.
  2. Let it stand for 30 - 60 minutes
  3. Run vinegar through a brew cycle.
  4. Run fresh water through brew cycle until the smell is gone

6. Bathroom Faucet Handle

A lot of “business” takes place in the bathroom, so it’s not entirely surprising that the NSF found the bathroom sink faucet handle is in the top ten dirtiest parts of a house. They noted that:

  • 9 percent of bathroom sink handles have Coliform bacteria
  • 27 percent of bathroom sink handles have yeast and mold
  • 5 percent of bathroom sink handles holders have staph

To eliminate dangerous bacteria, you can use a bleach-based bathroom cleaner. However, if you have a sensitivity to bleach, you can also opt for a hydrogen peroxide cleaner. If you’re a stickler about not using chemical cleaners, you can also make you’re own using vinegar and baking soda.

Pet Toys

7. Pet Toys

Your beloved pet's favorite toys can get pretty germy if you don’t toss them out or clean them regularly. The NSF found that:

  • 14 percent of pet toys have Coliform bacteria
  • 55 percent of pet toys have yeast and mold
  • 23 percent of pet toys holders have staph

To keep you and your fur babies safe, buy machine-washable toys. And, while you’re at it, be sure to regularly wash their collars and leashes. Doing so will help eliminate odors and kill harmful bacteria.

8. Countertops

If you're an avid cooker, your countertops probably take a bacterial beating. To make matters worse, you're probably cleaning them with a dirty sponge. In fact:

  • 14 percent of countertops have Coliform bacteria
  • 55 percent of countertops have yeast and mold
  • 23 percent of countertops holders have staph

To keep your preparation surfaces clean, we recommend using a fresh rag to clean instead of your sponge. Regular dish soap will eliminate most harmful bacteria, but you should also consider purchasing an antibacterial kitchen spray. In terms of cleaning frequency, you really should be wiping down your counters every time you cook.

Stove Knobs

9. Stove Knobs

When it comes to after-dinner cleaning, most people hit the main surfaces: countertops, sinks, and stovetops. But it's actually the stove knobs that are harboring the most bacteria. The NSF noted that:

  • 14 percent of stove knobs have Coliform bacteria
  • 27 percent of stove knobs have yeast and mold
  • 5 percent of stove knobs have staph

To keep your cooking areas clean and safe, we recommend cleaning your kitchen knobs at least once a week. For many stoves and oven knobs, using water and dish soap or an all-purpose kitchen cleaner is fine.

10. Cutting Board

Yuck! Even where we're preparing our raw food is covered in bacteria. The NSF's research shows that:

  • 18 percent of cutting boards have Coliform bacteria
  • 14 percent of cutting boards have yeast and mold

Interestingly, while many think wooden cutting boards are laden with germs, new research shows there is little to no difference between plastic and wood.

If you're using plastic, wash your cutting board with hot water and soap after every use, even if you're just cutting bread. If you're using a wooden cutting board, follow the same hot water and soap procedure, but also rub food-grade mineral oil and then a beeswax-based cream into the wood at least once a month.

A Little Help Where You Need It

Life moves fast, and we all get busy. In the rush of daily to-dos, we forget many little details in our homes. If you need some extra hands on deck to get into the nitty-gritty of your home, reach out to Gem City Cleaning Solutions. We can individualize a solution for you whether you want as-needed, monthly, or weekly cleanings.

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