6 Places in Your Home That Are Too Gross for Comfort
Many of us spend our weekends chasing dirt and grime in our homes — vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing and washing. And no matter what we do, we’re suspicious that we didn’t and will never get it all. The truth is: We’re right.
“Mold spores are everywhere!” says Cheryl L. Pearce, MS, M(ASCP), the Certified Microbiologist and Mold Inspector behind Mold Busters in San Francisco, Calif. “Normal/low levels of mold are present in all buildings.”
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1. Floor 5
Are you a fan of the five second rule? Turns out it’s pretty gross. Floors are some of the most bacteria-ridden parts of the home, and carpets are the absolute worst. The only thing that can get those deeply-rooted germs up is an annual steam cleaning or a complete replacement.
- Hire a carpet cleaning service once a year.
- Hire a carpet installer to replace carpet that has surpassed a quality lifespan (10 to 15 years).
- Go shoeless in the home when possible.
- Clean other flooring with material-appropriate disinfectant solutions.
2. Countertops 3
Our countertops see a lot of action and, as much as we try to keep up, they are teeming with bacteria morning, noon and night. We must use disinfectants to truly kill the germs.
- Disinfect countertops regularly.
- Hire a countertop installer and replace your surfaces with a bacteria-resistant material, like quartz or stainless steel.
3. Showers and Tubs 4
Moisture is a playground for bacteria, and you’ve probably spent a good amount of time battling mold growth in your shower or bathtub. As much you’re cleaning that space now, you may want to double it.
“There are types of black mold that are not toxic,” says Pearce. “For example, Cladosporium is a common and benign indoor mold typically found on window frames and in bathrooms.”
- Clean regularly with a disinfecting solution.
- Consider mold remediation services if things have gone too far.
- Replace your old tub or shower for a fresh start.
4. Kitchen Sinks 5
The kitchen sink is an incredibly moist and bacteria-prone area. Tiny bits of food mixed with droplets of water are an open invitation to E. coli and salmonella.
- Clean the sink with soap and water and dry it at the end of every day.
- Pour hot water and bleach down the drain twice a month.
- Use a chlorinated product and long-handled scrubbing tool to deep-clean the disposal.
5. Washing Machine 3
It’s easy to assume that washing machines self-clean with every cycle. However, with every wash, your clothes are actually depositing germs in the washer.
“Mold levels can become elevated/higher when damp or wet conditions are present,” Pearce says. “When mold spores land on a wet or damp surface, they will multiply and produce more mold spores that will also be dispersed into the air.”
- At least once a month, run an empty wash at the hottest temperature with a cup of either bleach or vinegar.
6. Refrigerators 4
The fridge can get pretty thick with bacteria — especially on the bottom shelves. Think of the constant rotation of food, where it came from and how often you wash your hands before you reach for the milk. Consider, also, the age of this and other appliances and whether or not you’re due to upgrade.
“Another common indoor mold is Penicillium,” Pearce notes. “This is a blue-green mold that is sometimes seen on bread and fruit. Penicillium doesn’t need a lot of moisture to grow and likes to feed on old or decaying food.”
- Disinfect your fridge twice a month.
- Don’t keep food past its expiration date.
- Never fill the fridge to capacity — it prevents air circulation.
- Store food appropriately, with raw meat on the bottom, eggs in the middle and sodas on the top.
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Gross Things to Disinfect/Replace Regularly
- Toothbrush holders
- Handles & knobs
- Cutting boards
- Above cabinets
- Light switches
- Around stove
- Stove knobs
- Pet bowls
Feeling disgusted and overwhelmed? Many busy individuals don’t have the time to keep up with the germs in their home. You may benefit from hiring a cleaning service to take care of the grimy details for you. And if you’re concerned you might have a mold problem, you should definitely consider a whole-home analysis.
What You Can Do to Reduce Mold Growth in Your Home
- Periodically inspect/check areas with plumbing (inside sink cabinets, hot water heaters, laundry rooms, etc.) for evidence of leaks or musty odors.
- Keep gutter downspouts and exterior drains clear to prevent back-ups that can cause flooding or drainage issues.
- Improve ventilation by opening windows as often as possible (weather permitting) and by running exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens when in use. In some climates, heat and air conditioning can also be used to control indoor humidity levels.
- Household anti-fungal/disinfectants can be used to clean sinks, bathtubs, showers, washing machine door gaskets and other areas in the home that tend to stay damp/wet and can develop mold.
Cheryl L. Pearce, MS, M(ASCP)
Certified Microbiologist and Mold Inspector
Mold Busters, San Francisco, Calif.